Iconic Rotisserie Reflects on Two Decades of Success (and Fun)
New Orleans, LA – Whether a native Louisianan or a transplant of sorts, chances are, at some point, you’ve gathered in a Zea restaurant to share a meal and good conversation. In 2017, the well-known (and well loved) rotisserie and bar is celebrating 20 years of creating quality cuisine and unforgettable moments.
The Zea brand began in late 1997, when the Taste Buds – Greg Reggio, Gary Darling and Hans Limburg – felt the itch for a new project. After selling their first culinary concept, Semolina, the three chefs recognized an opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of a late 90’s food trend: the panini.
Over the years, the Zea menu as we know it today has undergone several updates. In its early stages, Zea operated as a “cafeteria style” sandwich and salad spot within its first location in Harahan, LA, formerly a Toddle House. One of the original menu items included the “Galooch” sandwich: French bread was hollowed out and stuffed with meat, veggies and a garlic artichoke spread, then toasted.
“People would often come in expecting our restaurant to still be Toddle House and we would try to convert them. We’d say, ‘We don’t have breakfast, but here’s what we do have!,’” says Greg Reggio, Taste Bud and co-owner of Zea.
Reggio reflects on the original idea for the Zea name, anticipating a lunchtime hangout more similar to a deli – but in lieu of cured meats, rotisserie offerings to craft healthy yet flavorful sandwiches was the vision. While this was a distinctive offering for the New Orleans restaurant scene at the time, the Buds soon realized people were ordering the meats by themselves and seeking different side items.
“Fast casual works really well when you have a simple menu – chicken, a burger or two. Our menu evolved to something a little more complex, so that’s when we decided to add table service,” remembers Reggio.
Next came a second location in Clearview Mall, bringing another big change of pace: a brewery. According to Reggio, “it was simply something to raise the bar on what we were already doing. Partnering with the founders of Abita beer seemed like a natural next step.”
Today, Zea Rotisserie & Bar is known for its inimitable appetizers and signature recipes, such as Roasted Corn Grits and Asian Sesame Oysters. The Sedona Chicken Panini, a Zea original, still graces its menu. Of course, it’s flavorful rotisserie meats also steal the show, and several locations boast ample bar space for a quick happy hour cocktail or an intimate date evening with unique libations.
Eight locations throughout Southern Louisiana include: Metairie, LA; Harahan, LA; Covington, LA; Harvey, LA; Kenner, LA; Slidell, LA; Lafayette, LA; and Baton Rouge, LA. Looking to the future, a Zea will soon arrive in Denham Springs, LA (Late 2017-Early 2018), with other areas in the Gulf States currently being scouted by the Taste Buds team – so non-Louisiana natives can also experience Feel Good Flavor.
From first dates to proposals, Zea is proud to have helped guests create amazing memories. All year long, the brand will be sharing its favorite food memories with fans – including fun facts about some of the iconic dishes on its menu. To commemorate this special anniversary, Zea is celebrating 20 Years of Flavor by encouraging guests to share their Zea stories on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to be entered to win a $100 gift card.
To learn of the specials and menus offered at various locations, visit www.zearestaurants.com/locations. Sign up for Zea’s e-newsletter and follow the brand on social media for fun stories and memories all year long.
About Zea Rotisserie & Bar:
Zea Rotisserie & Bar is a polished, casual restaurant where friends can meet up, share good food and have a great time. Zea is the brainchild of Hans Limburg, Gary Darling, and Greg Reggio, collectively known as The Taste Buds. The first Zea location opened in Harahan, LA in June 1997 and now has grown to locations in the Greater New Orleans Area and beyond including Covington, LA; Slidell, LA; Lafayette, LA; and Baton Rouge, LA. Zea offers modern comfort food, including signature menu items, such as Rotisserie meats, Roasted Corn Grits and Thai Ribs. The Buds provide a great working environment, as well; Taste Buds Management was named among “Best Places to Work” in 2016 by New Orleans City Business as well as a “Top WorkPlace” by The Times-Picayune in 2017. For more information about Zea locations and menu, visit www.ZeaRestaurants.com or www.ZeaTurns20.com.