Newk’s Eatery signs lease for LSU-area restaurant

Newk’s Eatery, a Mississippi-based fast-casual restaurant chain, has signed a lease to open a location in the old Mr. Gatti’s by the North Gates of LSU.

Matthew Shirley, an agent/broker with Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, said Newk’s will begin remodeling the 4,200-square-foot building on Monday. The hope is to open the restaurant in early 2015.

The chain also is planning a second Baton Rouge location, in a new shopping center next to Towne Center at Cedar Lodge. Shirley said the LSU location will probably open before the Towne Center Newk’s.

Newk’s recently received rezoning approval from the city-parish Planning Commission to sell beer and wine at the restaurant, in advance of signing the lease. About 5 percent of the restaurant’s business comes from alcoholic beverage sales, but that number could be higher for a Newk’s by a college campus, Shirley said.

Newk’s has discussed opening a Baton Rouge location for several years.

The restaurant specializes in hand-tossed salads, oven-baked sandwiches, California-style pizzas and made-from-scratch soups.

The chain was founded in 2004 by Don Newcomb, Debra Bryson and Chris Newcomb, who founded the McAlister’s Deli chain.

Newk’s has more than 65 locations across the South, including restaurants in Monroe, Bossier City and Shreveport. The chain plans to open 15 restaurants in the next year.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.