Chef Peter Sclafani III, who left his longtime position in October as co-owner of Ruffino’s Restaurant, has joined TJ Ribs as its managing partner.
Sclafani declines to comment on the move, which has not been officially announced yet.
However, TJ Ribs owner Burke Moran, whose father, the late T.J. Moran, founded the Capital area restaurant chain, confirms Sclafani has been with the company since his departure from Ruffino’s last fall. He says Sclafani plans to bring his signature south Louisiana style to the menu.
“Peter has been working on some new things for us and is getting himself ramped up,” Moran says. “He has a menu waiting to roll out.”
Among the planned changes to the menu at TJ Ribs, which has locations on South Acadian Thruway and Siegen Lane, will be a greater emphasis on fresh, local foods, including alligator and other south Louisiana seafood staples.
Burke says the restaurant company isn’t ready to introduce the new menu yet, adding the focus in recent weeks has been on the performance of the poorly performing Prairieville location, which closed Monday. Now that the closure is out of the way, Moran says TJ Ribs can focus on growing and upgrading.
“We have a lot of plans on the table,” he says.
Sclafani is a veteran of the local restaurant industry and has long-standing ties to the Moran family. He and his former partner in Ruffino’s, Ruffin Rodrigue, began working together in 1998 at Ruffino’s under T.J. Moran, from whom they bought the restaurant in 2009.
Sclafani has showcased his cuisine twice at the James Beard House in New York in recent years and is vice chair of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, which he will lead as chair in 2020.