Restaurant vet hopes Government St. will be ‘home run’ for new venture

    Russell Jones, a Baton Rouge restauranteur with 63 years of experience, is coming out of retirement to open a new restaurant on Government Street.

    Russell J’s Kitchen, on Government, across the street from the newly renovated Circle K, is waiting on final inspections and equipment installations, with Jones saying he expects to open around Aug. 15.

    Describing the dishes as “mama’s cooking,” the restaurant will be a breakfast and lunch cafeteria, similar to Picadilly’s, with three homestyle lunch entrees and two sides. Meals will cost around $10.

    “Not fancy, but good to the last bite—that’s my motto,” says the New Orleans native. Jones expects phone-in and fax orders to be his sales “bread and butter.”

    Jones, 80, previously owned restaurants in New Roads, Scotlandville and Baton Rouge. He also helped open and operate the first Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans with Al Copeland and was the first franchisee for the business in Baton Rouge. He split away from the company in the 1970s.

    Once he turned 75, Jones began to consider opening a restaurant for a “home run.” For nearly six years, he drove around Baton Rouge looking for a location, hoping he wouldn’t find the right spot, but, Jones says, the building on Government Street caught his eye.

    “I’ve seen this building’s ownership change several times. Why would a building on Government Street with parking—which is about to explode—not be successful?” Jones says. “I’d like to hit a Babe Ruth before I go out.”

    Russell J’s Kitchen will join nearly a dozen restaurants that have opened on the Government Street corridor in the past year.

    If demand warrants it, Jones is considering expanding the restaurant’s hours for a dinner menu.

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