By Joshua Jackson
Continuing its rapid expansion and sharing of specialty soups, salads and sandwiches, Newk’s Eatery has opened
its second Baton Rouge location at 3332 Lake St. last Monday.
Newk’s began in 2004 in Oxford, Miss., under the same minds who created fast-casual restaurant McAllister’s Deli. Since then, Newk’s has established multiple locations in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Arkansas with plans to continue spreading. The Lake Street location is opening only months after the Newk’s Eatery on Corporate Blvd. opened.
As usual, the Lake Street location features everything expected of a Newk’s Eatery including colorful paintings, a fully-visible kitchen, a to-go area called Grab-N-Go, and the signature roundtable with items such as Newk’s breadsticks, crackers and to-go boxes.
The restaurant has a heavy focus on customer satisfaction in a fast food format resulting in the fast-casual concept. After customers order, they place numbers they are given on the table where they’re sitting, and an hourly partner will then bring the food out and bus the table. If drinks are purchased, Newk’s also gives refillable plastic cups, which can be taken home as part of the experience for the customer.
Not only is Newk’s a place for customers to enjoy, General Manager Reggie Holmes says the employees,
known as hourly partners, are encouraged to treat each other as a family and socialize with customers to create an experience for both parties.
“Everything here is about teamwork and building a culture,” Holmes said. “When we do that, it creates a relationship between the customers and our hourly partners that encourages customers to come back for another meal.”
While the relationships may be what makes customers return, the Newk’s menu is no slouch either. Items such as pesto chicken sandwiches, six cheese pimiento macaroni with bacon and the Newk’s Favorite salad are all popular items. The restaurant’s most popular item, the Newk’s “Q” comes in two form —pizza or sandwich. The “Q” boasts a combination of grilled chicken, Applewood bacon, and white barbeque sauce. All of the items on the Newk’s menu are made fresh in the restaurant, something Holmes takes great pride in.
“What separates us from other places to get fast-casual food is the freshness of our products,” Holmes said. “We marinate and grill much of our food and make our desserts in-house. You can’t get that from a lot of other places.”
As everything is made fresh, the Newk’s menu is also a
healthy lunch or dinner option. Newk’s even offers a catering plan for those looking to order on a grand scale.
In its 11 years, Newk’s has gained a large fan base thanks to its menu and store design. Even those who have worked in the industry for years are impressed with the business.
“I’ve been in the hospitality industry about 19 years now and I can tell you that this is the most exciting place I’ve been a part of,” Holmes said. “It’s such an interesting concept and such a successful plan.”
As the Lake Street location sits right next to Louie’s Café and right off of LSU’s campus, many patrons will be students and Newk’s plans to give back to LSU in multiple ways.
“We’re doing a lot of partnering with the university as far as catering in the future, and of course about two-thirds of our staff are LSU students,” Holmes said.