NEW ORLEANS — When Eric Cooks left the Marine Corps after having served for most of his adult life, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
Returning to the city, he used the “very-few-degrees-of-separation” found here to get started.
“Coming back to New Orleans, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but like New Orleans, my sister’s husband knew a guy who went to school with someone. That’s how it is. He said, ‘I’ll get you a job in a restaurant,’ and, he got me a job in a restaurant.”
Cooks started working at one of the city’s finest – Brennan’s on Royal Street – and he learned from a master, Chef Mike Roussel. He took what he learned there and also went on to work at a number of famous restaurants, making a name for himself along the way.
That led to…
“My wife was like, ‘Let’s open a restaurant,’ and I said, ‘You are crazy.’ Then my sisters told me I should open a restaurant. My family ganged up on me. I was like, ‘fine, great, let’s open a restaurant.’”
After he found the location that would become Gris-Gris in the 1800 block of Magazine Street, he took a big risk for the financing.
Both he and his parents mortgaged their home to make his dream come true.
“We jumped off a cliff and we did it. We flipped the building in 60 days. We came in on June 1 and I said, “We’re opening on August 1st.”
That was three years ago, and since that time Gris-Gris has become a favorite New Orleans neighborhood restaurant.
“We’re definitely refined New Orleans food,” said Cooks. “I wanted to take home cooking and do it in a refined, elevated way, with a great bar.”
Gris-Gris’ menu is small, but he said what they do, they do very well.
On WWL-TV’s recent visit, there was an oyster BLT sandwich with homemade tomato jam, pork belly, oysters, arugula and sugar cane vinegar.