Mitchell Mittelstedt
Dining

Big Eazy Serves New Orleans Fare

Gumbo, bourbon pork chops, jambalaya, fried corn and kale.

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The Big Eazy, a four-year old restaurant, specializes in New Orleans cuisine, according to proprietor and chef Greg Johnson.

This is the first year the restaurant, at 2053 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, is participating in Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week, from April 17 to April 23. The event is sponsored by BlankSpace MKE, an urban art cooperative whose mission is to serve as a “conduit for cooperative economics.”

Johnson had been traveling back and forth between his hometown of Milwaukee and New Orleans beginning in 1975. Eventually, he moved there and stayed for 25 years, before Hurricane Katrina “blew [him] back home” to Milwaukee in 2005.

Johnson met Big Eazy co-founder Tony McGaughy while they were employees at the Hilton Hotel in Milwaukee. After leaving the hotel, Johnson used his severance pay to start a catering business with his wife, Janice Johnson.

“One day we were passing by the place (on King Drive), and it had the sign up there that said, ‘Restaurant only, for rent,’” recalled Johnson. “I said, ‘Man, that’s what I want, that’s what I’ve been wanting.’”

The Big Eazy, which is open Wednesday through Sunday, serves Sunday brunches that have proven to be very successful.

“We can feed anywhere from 150 to 250 people on a Sunday, so if you haven’t had the Sunday brunch at The Big Eazy, you’re missing out on a treat,” said McGaughy.

McGaughy also recommends several dishes for people craving true New Orleans food: the bourbon pork chops with homemade fried corn and kale, gumbo (“not the watered down version that you may get from a lot of restaurants”), shrimp and jambalaya.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

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