All are welcome at Petra
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018
LAPLACE — It took a lot of convincing for brothers TJ and Jameel Qutob to move Petra Restaurant & Lounge from Metairie to LaPlace, but it was a decision made without regret.
Over the past five years, they’ve established roots in St. John the Baptist Parish while forming connections with customers and opening doors to charitable work.
Located at 1036 W. Airline Highway, Petra Restaurant & Lounge is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
With a comfortable, classy atmosphere and a variety of Italian food options with a Middle Eastern spin, the restaurant is the go-to location for a white tablecloth dining experience in St. John the Baptist Parish.
Petra has also been the site of numerous community gatherings, according to customer and supporter Maria Stelly.
The restaurant’s lounge area and meeting room are used for Lion’s Club and River Region Chamber of Commerce meetings, according to Stelly. She used the venue for a dinner following the St. John the Baptist Parish Sugar Queen Pageant and is currently organizing a banquet for the nonprofit organization Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures.
“Mr. TJ is really a nice, true gentleman willing to work with you with whatever you’re planning, whether it be a cocktail party or a business meeting,” Stelly said. “Even when you have a limited budget, he’s very accommodating and works with you to provide a full package.”
TJ has been involved with community outreach projects for many years, believing businesses should give back to the communities that help them thrive.
He works closely with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office and LaPlace Lions Club to distribute Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, plays host to senior citizens breakfast events, supports Night Out Against Crime and presents gift certificates to local churches.
When local officers were shot in the line of duty, TJ and the Petra team sold benefit meals to raise money for their families.
“To be successful in the community, you need to be a part of it,” TJ said. “Through good times and bad times, we’re there to support the community the same way they support us with their business. We always help anybody, everybody. If a charity knocks on our door, we never say no, as long as it’s legitimate.”
TJ said he’s ultimately in business for the people.
Having worked in the restaurant industry since 1985, TJ got his foot in the door by accepting a job as a busboy at Andrea’s Restaurant in Metairie.
Within months, he was a waiter. The job eventually led to a managerial position.
After working at Andrea’s for 10 years, TJ opened the original Petra Restaurant & Lounge in Metairie in the 1990s.
Inspired by the light and elegant appeal of Italian restaurants, TJ and Jameel crafted a menu of Italian offerings with a Middle Eastern twist as homage to their Jordanian heritage.
Local favorites also appear on the menu, and TJ said fried seafood and steak are most popular with the people of LaPlace.
The restaurant also offers catering and event rental services capable of accommodating 20 to 175 people.
Though initially hesitant to move to LaPlace, TJ has no plans to leave and even declined an offer to move back toward New Orleans.
He does, however, hope to construct a new building in the foreseeable future.
“We’re here to be a part of the community,” TJ said. “We’re here to last.”
In honor of the New Year, Petra Restaurant & Lounge is rolling out an updated menu and a new website this month at petralaplace.net.
For more information, like Petra Restaurant on Facebook or call 985-359-8888.