Growing up along Bayou Lafourche in New Orleans, Joseph Stafford learned Southern cooking from his mother at an early age. When he and his wife, Margarine, relocated to Detroit, Joseph continued making batches of gumbo and jambalaya using his family’s recipes. In October of 1970, the two opened Louisiana Creole Gumbo at 2051 Gratiot Ave., bringing authentic, old Bayou dishes to the city. The eatery would become an instant hit.
In 1982, Joseph and Margarine were looking to sell their booming business and retire. Suitors for the business included TV and radio broadcaster Joe Spencer and his business partner Doug Morrison, who were torn between renovating Downtown apartments and investing in Joseph’s gumbo. While Spencer saw great potential in flipping Detroit housing, Morrison was in favor of reinventing the eatery — the duo broke the stalemate with a good old game of heads or tails. Morrison won the toss and the purchased Louisiana Creole Gumbo from the Staffords. More than 35 years later, the owners continue to make the same delicious plates that began Joseph’s career as a celebrated cook nearly 58 years ago.
Daily, the restaurant prepares hot Creole, gumbo, and jambalaya, which is served by the pint and kept warm for takeout. Louisiana Creole Gumbo’s dishes feature a zesty broth flavored with spices, vegetables, and your choice of meat or seafood, served over rice. Vegetarian patrons can also taste these Southern flavors with dishes like veggie Creole and red beans and rice. Homemade drinks and traditional Southern staples, like rib tips and meatloaf, round out a menu focused on comfort food. Newcomers visiting either location — a second Louisiana Creole Gumbo sits on Seven Mile Road in Detroit — should try the Hungry Man’s Platter, a $12 combo featuring red beans and rice, shrimp gumbo, shrimp Creole, beef jambalaya, and a fluffy, homemade sweet roll that soaks up the broth like a sponge. For those that can’t make it to the restaurant’s brick-and-mortars, Louisiana Creole Gumbo recently opened a food truck that transports dishes to the metro Detroit area. The expansion is largely thanks to a $100,000 award from the city’s New Economic Initiative.
If you find yourself in one of Louisiana Creole Gumbo’s locations and have never experienced Creole cuisine, the numerous press clippings hanging on the restaurants’ walls should assure you that you’re in the right place.