In less than two months, Nanticoke residents welcomed their newest neighbors at the French Quarter restaurant with open arms.
Owner and chef Kelli Fritz worried that opening a restaurant far away from her Berwick home might be a disadvantage to the business, but the locals proved her wrong.
“I know my people (in Berwick) will follow me here to eat, but I don’t have many friends up here,” she said. “But through word of mouth, we’ve been busy.”
The restaurant hugs the corners of South Walnut and East Union streets, which sat vacant for four years prior. Customers who enter the establishment are immediately greeted by the scent of Cajun spices and a cozy atmosphere. A menu full of variety sits on the chalkboard wall with different options written in brightly colored chalk, and Mardi Gras-themed decor covers the restaurant in the signature green, purple and gold color scheme.
Fritz said after so many years working for other people she decided it was finally time to open her own restaurant, with her style of food.
“I lived in New Orleans until I was eight, and my uncle had a restaurant down there,” she said. “For years, people told my mom and I to open a New Orleans-styled restaurant, but we’d been busy working for other people, making them money.”
In November, an opportunity to lease the restaurant South Walnut Street presented itself to Fritz and her husband, Larry, and they couldn’t pass it up.
“It was a long time coming,” Fritz said.
But she couldn’t do it alone. With help from her family and friends, they opened the restaurant after five months of revamping the interior and decorating it to their liking.
Now, the restaurant specializes in various New Orleans- and Cajun-styled cuisine, from the famous Po’Boys — both hot and cold — to Crawfish Etouffee and Jambalaya. But most notably, the French Quarter serves Alligator Bites as an appetizer, to really bring something new to the area.
“We allow people to have samples of gator before ordering,” Fritz said. “And 90 percent of people like it.”
“It’s like a fishy chicken with a steak texture,” her husband added.
Although they are still a budding restaurant, the food spoke for itself when it came to Facebook reviews, which have been mostly five-stars. Fritz said she fears the day they receive a bad review, but said, “you can’t please everyone.”
Even with the more unique dishes, the couple said locals keep returning to the restaurant to try new things. Within the few months they’ve been open, they said many people are repeat customers, from the 911 call center employees that order lunch to the neighbors across the street that eat dinner at the restaurant several times a week.
“The best part is meeting all of the new people, from the people across the street to any new customer that walks in daily,” Fritz said.
— charlotte l. jacobson
The French Quarter
Address: 701 S. Walnut St., Nanticoke
Owners: Kelli and Larry Fritz
Cuisine: New Orleans-styled sandwiches and dinner entrees
Hours: Mondays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 11 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 8 p.m.
Online: Visit the French Quarter on Facebook.