NEW ORLEANS — Ray's on the Ave is a creole- soul food restaurant serving up delicious meals and a great music venue.
But who is Ray?
Ray is Elray Holmes. He co-owns Ray's on the Ave with his wife Tammy.
"We were on St. Bernard Avenue originally. It was like 'You're going to call it Ray's? Yeah, we're going to call it Ray's. We right on the Ave...so Ray's on the Ave," says Holmes.
The original location opened in 2016. After a few years, the restaurant moved to Claiborne near Basin Street but it kept flooding. In 2019, they landed on Broad near St. Bernard.
"To evolve into this location which has so much history in this building, in this area. It was heaven sent. When you go back into the days when it was Pampy's, alot of doctors, lawyers, judges, alot of business decisions were made…alot of political decisions were made in this ," explains Holmes.
Ray says his spot has also become a gathering place for local leaders.
And while those folks are planning they are eating good.
Ray whips all of the New Orleans classics, fried chicken, fried shrimp, and of course — gumbo.
"I love cooking gumbo because I like people's expressions. Everybody's expression is different when they get it and my gumbo is a combination okra/file gumbo, so I call it the best of both worlds," says Holmes.
Food is just one part of who Ray is. At heart, he's a businessman.
He has owned 18 different bars over the years and has his own line of spices.
He opened his first business in 1994.
"That first location was Ray Ray's which is now Bertha's by the way," says Holmes.
Ray is an entrepreneur, a chef, a loving husband, and there's "Ray Boom Boom."
"I'm a musician," says Holmes.
Ray opened a bar on Frenchmen called Ray's Boom Boom room right after Katrina. That spot closed. It's the Maison now, but the name stuck. He performs with Kermit Ruffins all the time.
"My family is a musical family, so like most musical families in the city we had jam sessions and every Sunday we would have a jam session and what we would do is we would switch instruments and we would play each other's horns….
Coming up in the public school system....graduate of John F Kennedy…..Southern University Juke Box. We knew how to read music as well as write," says Holmes.
From the food to the music to the culture, Ray has a hand in everything that makes New Orleans so special.
"Between cooking, managing, and being a musician as well as producing music. I call it a total New Orleans package," says Holmes.