If you’re tired of having to wait until evening to order a piping bowl of gumbo in Wise County, the wait is finally over.
The husband-and-wife team that brought the culinary artistry of gumbo and fresh seafood to Boyd has added a lunch partner.
Gogo Gumbo! chef Kraig Thome and his wife, Letty, opened a lunch diner next to their now-famous restaurant in Boyd. The Canteen, located just west of Gogo Gumbo! on Rock Island Avenue, opened for business last month.
“Canteen is what Gogo was supposed to be like,” Letty said. “The name ‘gogo’ describes a restaurant where you have a counter you walk up to and take it to go or eat at one of a few tables.”
They’ve had the idea for years, but it wasn’t until they acquired the space were they able to create the lunch-only cafe.
Soup, salads, fresh products and a couple of hot plates, such as meatloaf or crab cakes, are featured on an ever-changing menu posted on digital screens above the counter. Original stained wood lines the walls and the ceiling. Artwork by a Boyd artist decorates one of the walls.
In addition to soups and sandwiches and salads, the menu still contains both of Gogo’s gumbo flavors, shrimp-crab and chicken-sausage. Kraig’s famous desserts such as his Jack Daniel’s bourbon chocolate mousse pie and banana pudding also made the menu.
“Canteen came out of owning some extra space,” Kraig said. “We thought we’d just store front it and make everything to go, but when we talked to people, they wanted a place to sit down for lunch.”
The location was the equine store that moved one door down. They renovated the interior and connected it to the kitchen, which in turn connects to Gogo.
The opening of The Canteen coincided with the five-year anniversary of Gogo Gumbo!
Their re-location to Boyd was random. And they opened on the edge of a national financial crisis.
Kraig was the executive chef for University Club and Houston City Club before he was the executive chef at Las Colinas Country Club.
“We were in the Galleria in Houston,” Kraig said. “We both had great jobs. And rather than start something there we decided to relocate.”
After searching through hundreds of potential spots, he found a little restaurant in Boyd for sale on CraigsList. The rest is culinary history.
“At first our friends and family from Houston thought we were a little crazy,” Letty said. “And I told Kraig it doesn’t matter where you put a restaurant. I know people will come.”
“We had an idea to open a small restaurant and stick with it,” Kraig said. “We sold everything. The condo in the Galleria. We put everything we had into this. And we’ve never lost money at Gogo which is unusual. Even though we opened during the worst part of the recession. We opened literally two months before the market crashed, and we made it.
“It’s a tough time in the nation for independent restaurants, but it’s never been tough for us.”
“People have gained more of a taste for fresh-prepared food, the fresh product, the fresh fish and not the frozen product,” Letty said.
“Most of the locals have really embraced us,” Kraig added. “They’re smart enough to come out on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. If you come on Friday and Saturday you’re gonna be waiting 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half.”
But the market for Gogo Gumbo! has expanded throughout the Metroplex.
“We did this with the design that we weren’t going to be a Boyd restaurant, we were going to be a restaurant in Boyd,” Kraig said. “Now our circle has grown. We go all the way to Southlake, south Fort Worth, Chico, way past Decatur.”
And they’ve embraced the community as much as the community has embraced Kraig’s deserts.
“I’d rather be a cook in Boyd than a chef in Houston,” Kraig said.
Canteen is open for lunch only, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday at 124 W. Rock Island Ave.
Gogo Gumbo! is open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 116 W. Rock Island Ave.