Authentic Italian food coming to Grand Ridge Golf Club

Troy Gendusa (R), owner of Gendusa’s Italian Market of Kenner, coming to Grand Ridge Golf Club in the Willowdale community in Luling.

Gendusa’s Italian Market II will open in June

Authentic Sicilian food will soon be on the menu at the Grand Ridge Golf Club in the Willowdale community.  “I’m excited about getting them here,” said Club President Robby Gilbert.

Gendusa’s II restaurant will open at the club by mid-June. The restaurant will replace Grand Bistro that recently closed when its owners announced they were dealing with family demands.

Gilbert and Troy Gendusa, owner of Gendusa’s Italian Market in Kenner, say the same menu is coming to the Luling location. They also say locals are already responding to the news.

“My phone has not stopped,” Gendusa said. “They have not stopped coming by here. It’s going to be great. We’re already getting awesome feedback.”

Gendusa said he’s long had his eye on coming to the area and, when he heard about the bistro closing, contacted Gilbert about coming to Luling.

The Luling site would be Gendusa’s second location and will feature many of the same menu items of his Kenner restaurant, which will include homemade meatballs (big as tennis balls), lasagna, chicken piccata, as well as pizza, Italian sausage and cannolis. There also will be daily specials, and nights for steaks and seafood.

“Everything is handmade,” said Gendusa, who makes many of his dishes himself.

Gendusa said the Luling location would expand his business. His Kenner restaurant seats 125 while the club site can seat more than 200 people, fueling a business he believes could outgrow his Kenner location.

“I’m very excited about it, especially with the feedback I’m getting,” he said. “That location could exceed this location in a matter of months.”

If it happens, Gendusa said he’s ready for it. They’re experienced in catering “huge” events in the New Orleans area.

He’s also investing in equipment upgrades for the kitchen, which will include installing a pizza oven. [pullquote]“It’s going to be great. We’re already getting awesome feedback.” – Troy Gendusa[/pullquote]

Gendusa also plans on hiring up to 23 people to staff the restaurant depending on demand.

“In time, I’m going to learn the customers,” he said of a menu that will be adjusted to their preferences. In Kenner, he learned to schedule their seafood night on Fridays, especially the seafood ravioli and homemade cannolis.

“I’m a huge believer in fair price, good food and huge portions,” he added.

Gendusa’s enthusiasm for the venture is welcome news for Gilbert, whose efforts represent the latest move to keep together the club by repackaging it from a golf club, as well as cultivating a family oriented atmosphere.

“We’re trying to save the country club,” Gilbert said. “A lot of work has been done on the golf course and pool, and the greens are in great shape.”

In March of last year, the club bought back the swimming pool in an attempt to save the site and avoid the fate of many golf clubs in the nation that shuttered the doors and went on the market as real estate. The effort is aimed at shifting focus from golf, which fewer people are playing, to becoming a community center.

Grand Ridge was in trouble until Gilbert’s impassioned plea to members and residents of the surrounding Willowridge Subdivision to save what many consider a historic landmark of St. Charles Parish.

Some headway has been made, according to Gilbert.

The club’s near death experience came with it being nearly $18,000 a month in the red, which he said is now at a breakeven point. Membership that had fallen to 75 is now at 430.

“It’s right there in your neighborhood and you know everybody in the place,” he said.

But Gilbert said it needs to keep growing and “continue being nice to attract people. We need it to be part of people’s ordinary lives and it’s making headway.”

He’s encouraged by what he’s seeing and even more hopeful with the arrival of Gendusa’s.

When he visited the restaurant, Gilbert said he was impressed with the restaurant and a sign he saw there, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”


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