Peewee’s Crabcakes on Old Gentilly Road has ‘the spirit of New Orleans’
By Marielle Songy, Gentilly Messenger
It’s been a busy year for Charles “Pee Wee” Armstrong. I first met Armstrong at his restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard last January.
At the time, Peewee’s Crabcakes On-The-Go served delicious crab cakes and other seafood dishes out of a to-go window. The operation was successful, slinging lunch and dinner five days a week.
Armstrong grew up in the restaurant industry; his parents were cooks at the Marriott hotel and he started cooking when he was 16 and developed his skills at Chef’s Table Culinary Academy. He cooked at Copeland’s for eight years and then began teaching others to cook.
At his Central City location, he wanted to bring good New Orleans food to a neighborhood that isn’t rich in food options.
Cooking and owning his own restaurant was Armstrong’s lifelong dream. Another dream, opening a second location, was realized in September when he opened Peewee’s Crabcakes at 4500 Old Gentilly Road.
The spirit of the Central City location is alive and well, even if the digs are a little bigger. Like the original location, this spot offers food to-go, but also has tables for dining in.
“I wanted to expand and give people a place to sit and eat,” he said.
Like his Central City location, Armstrong wanted to open a restaurant where he felt his food was needed. He chose Gentilly because he thought he could bring something unique to the food scene in the area.
“Gentilly has a lot of take-out food options, and I wanted to add good New Orleans food to that,” he said. “People have been great and have really accepted us. It’s been a blessing.”
The Gentilly menu is expansive — perfect for any lover of New Orleans seafood. Highlights include Hennessy BBQ Shrimp ($11.99), Pontchartrain Fried Soft Shell Crab ($9.99), Stuffed Crabs ($17.99) and Stuffed CatFish ($18.99). Of course, the crab cakes that put Pee Wee’s on the map are available in an appetizer or entrée version.
Armstrong knew that in order to stand out in New Orleans, he would have to offer something a little different. This is how he came up with the idea to offer crab cakes that are made with 98% crab meat.
“New Orleans has great food, and I want crab cakes to be my thing,” he said. “I want to stand out.”
So far, the move to Gentilly has been successful, and Armstrong and his team are loving the area.
“The Gentilly location made me grow as a businessman and person,” he said. “I’m excited to welcome the college students in the area; I want everyone to know we’re here to serve them.”
Because of the success he’s seen at the sit-down restaurant in Gentilly, Armstrong has even bigger plans going forward, including a location in New Orleans East.
“I’m going to be opening another location in New Orleans East in May,” he said. “It’s going to take-out and dine-in, but there will also be a grab-and-go option.”
That’s not all, Armstrong has plans to open two more locations- one in Kenner and another in Baton Rouge, by the end of the year. He hopes to go where people need him and give locals jobs, while he serves up good food.
“Gentilly allowed me to really see what I want,” he said. “I want to put Peewee’s in every neighborhood and give people job opportunities. I want to feed the world and show people that we can make it by doing it the right way.”
Most importantly, Armstrong wants to be an example to his kids and show them that they can achieve anything, if they work for it.
“I don’t take any of it for granted,” he said. “We can feed everyone — we have the spirit of New Orleans.”
Peewee’s Crabcakes is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
4500 Old Gentilly Road