The Gumbo Bros, a buzzed-about Brooklyn-based Cajun/Creole restaurant, is opening its second location in Nashville (the Gulch, specifically) on Wednesday, March 3. And while yes, Brooklyn might have been the first location for Gumbo Bros — don’t let that distract you from the fact these guys are from Cajun country.
Chef/co-founder/Mobile, Alabama native Adam Lathan and co-founder Clay Boulware met at LSU, where they were roommates. Lathan spent a great deal of his childhood traveling along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans to visit family and of course, eat all of the city’s fantastic food while soaking in the NOLA culture.
After college, they moved to NY and noticed a lack of options for good crawfish, gumbo, and po’boys. What began at pop-ups, festivals, and catering spun into the duo’s first restaurant in 2016, and Nashville was chosen for their first expansion — the former Bar Otaku space in the Gulch, specifically.
“We want this place to be an escape from the absolute BS that we have all been through this past year. We want TGB to be a place that has elevated, classic Cajun/bar food in a setting that says ‘have a beer at lunch, it doesn’t matter here.’ You may not be on Frenchmen Street right now, but this is as close as it gets,” says Lathan.
The Gumbo Bros’ po’ boys begin with New Orleans’ own Leidenheimer Bakery French bread, then come dressed with lettuce, tomato, Duke’s mayo, and pickles. Diners can choose from classics like fried shrimp, oyster, Mississippi catfish, roast beef with debris gravy, or fried green tomato and remoulade. “Fancy pants” po’boy options range from surf ‘n’ turf (fried shrimp, roast beef, and debris gravy) to the “peacemaker” (with fried shrimp, fried oyster, and pepper jack cheese). The Gumbo Bros regularly flies seafood to each restaurant straight from the Gulf.
Lathan has a trio of gumbos on the menu, all based on the proper recipe he learned straight from his great-grandmother Nanny. That very technique—cooking homemade gumbo for 14 hours—is used in The Gumbo Bros kitchen to this day, and serves as the basis for all three gumbos on the menu: Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo (Cajun-style gumbo with dark roux with smoky andouille sausage, Cajun-spiced chicken, and chicken bone stock), Nanny’s seafood Gumbo (coastal-style gumbo with filé powder, fresh shrimp, and blue crab meat in crab stock), and gumbo z’herbes (a vegan and gluten-free classic New Orleans-style gumbo with kale, collard, parsley, and mustard greens, filé gumbo and roasted veggie stock). The gumbo z’herbes recipe was originally associated with Good Friday when no meat, chicken, or fish could be consumed by the religiously observant.
There are also smoked boudin balls (made with Peg Leg Porker pork), cripsy fried Louisiana alligator nuggets, Cajun waffle fries, Louisiana-made Zapp’s Chips, and bananas foster pudding on the menu.
As far as alcoholic beverages go, the Gumbo Bros continue the nod to its New Orleans theme, with house hurricanes and a slew of daiquiris, alongside Tabasco margaritas on tap. There will also be a rotating selection of local Nashville and New Orleans beers.
The highly anticipated New Orleans-style fast-casual spot slid into the former Bar Otaku location at 505 12 Avenue South, and the space of course has a whole new look designed the feel of New Orleans in mind. Lathan’s father, a contractor and preservationist, salvaged wood salvaged from the Port of New Orleans that forms Gumbo Bros Nashville’s expansiveg bar, white globe light pendants hand-adorned with pelicans dangle overhead. A mural features paintings of New Orleans greats such as Leah Chase, Tennessee Williams, and James Booker, plus tabletops made of 150-year-old refurbished maple planks from a former textile mill in Alabama (also via Lathan’s father) add further interest.
As mentioned, this is the second iteration of The Gumbo Bros, following its Brooklyn, NY home base which opened in 2016 (and has received lots of attention nationwide). Lathan describes the process of open a restaurant during a pandemic while operating another one in another city “like refueling a plane mid-flight. Every time we think that we have something figured out, we get thrown a curveball. We had to learn everything on the fly during the height of the pandemic in Brooklyn so in a weird way, we feel like it prepared us to be better operators and make better choices for the safety of our staff, our customers, and our business.” Lathan says Nashville as the second location was a natural fit, as he wanted to come back to the south and loves the thriving city and its hospitality industry. “The restaurant community is very tight-knit and everyone from other operators, chefs, vendors, and even our landlords really sealed the deal for us that if we were going to bet on anywhere to recover from Covid, that we were putting it all on Nashville.”
Nashvillians can expect to experience the full spirit of Louisiana as The Gumbo Bros offers a gathering place for LSU and Saints fans on game days, hurricanes and daiquiris on tap, an oyster happy hour, and plans for crawfish boils and a jazz brunch starting in the spring.
Starting on March 3, Gumbo Bros Nashville will be open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Three Stars for Gumbo Bros. in Brooklyn [EATER NY]
Gumbo Bros [Official Site]Adam Lathan, Clay Boulware, James Wishon