A plucky newcomer to the Baton Rouge restaurant business expects to be a smashing success in a building where several other eateries have failed in the past decade.
Ellis Underwood plans to open Ellis U, an LSU-themed restaurant serving traditional American and South Louisiana fare, on Highland Road in the Kenilworth Shopping Center sometime in late April.
Though he has almost zero experience running a restaurant, Underwood aspires to create a thriving dining destination in what many local food industry members consider to be a snakebit location that’s been the home to a failed seafood restaurant, a failed fine dining establishment, and two failed Italian restaurants.
“We’ll offer an atmosphere dripping with all sorts of LSU accoutrements, like photos of former Tiger football players and framed newspaper pages memorializing past LSU sports glory. No one else has tried that angle here yet, I think.”
“Ellis U will feature all sorts of unique dishes like hamburgers, po-boys, and gumbo that you can’t find anywhere else in Baton Rouge,” the 38-year-old Underwood said. “Plus, we’ll offer an atmosphere dripping with all sorts of LSU accoutrements, like photos of former Tiger football players and framed newspaper pages memorializing past LSU sports glory. No one else has tried that angle here yet, I think.”
An accountant by trade, Underwood’s limited food-service experience, which involves serving as a part-time shift manager at Mr. Gatti’s for three months during the mid-1990s, hasn’t deterred him nor his equally wide-eyed investors from pushing headlong into an enterprise that – to just about everyone else – is seemingly destined for utter failure.
“I’ve always wanted to run a restaurant I can call my own, and I’m finally going to give it a go,” said Underwood, who points to his 30-plus weekly viewing hours of the Food Network as experience within the industry. “I know some people may think I’m crazy for doing this, but I really do think Ellis U will flourish in this space because of our unique name and even more unique business model of serving edible food while appealing to people’s sentimentality to LSU sports lore.”