WALKER — Livingston Parish is growing, and some businesses are riding the wave of progress into the next stage of their professional lives. Nick Xiao, the owner of Foo Chow Buffet, which opened recently in Walker, is no exception to that circumstance.
Xiao was previously the owner of 32 Hot Wok restaurants, spanning from Houston to Mississippi along I-10. The majority of his locations were situated in southeast Louisiana, and he placed three of them within the confines of Livingston Parish.
The Hot Wok in Walker opened in 2003, and Xiao has found success with the restaurant ever since. However, patrons and friends alike spoke up and told him that Livingston Parish needed a bigger, more robust Asian buffet. Eventually, Xiao could not fight their pleas anymore, and he decided to focus his efforts on just one restaurant.
“I was stretched a little thin,” Xiao said. “I figure that if I take good care of it (Foo Chow), then I will do better with it.”
Xiao’s Hot Wok restaurants were roughly 2000 square feet each, with limited food offerings. The new location, situated at 28600 Walker South Road, Suite 102, offers an expanded menu which includes a hibachi grill and sushi.
“This one offers twice as much food, and we added sushi and a hibachi grill,” Xiao said. “We want people to pick their own type of food, and we cook everything fresh and different.”
The new restaurant is 6800 square feet and can hold up to 200 patrons. The parking lot can currently hold 100 cars in front and back, and Xiao hopes to get an extended lease for 16 feet behind the development to hold more cars. Xiao is also holding on to the suite next door, which totals 1200 square feet, in case he needs to expand.
That reaction came after Xiao’s restaurant was packed Wednesday for a soft-opening, and the fact that the other businesses in the development have yet to open.
“I have had many, many requests for the suite right next to me, but I’m hoping to hold off and expand,” Xiao said.
Xiao’s development will extend past the Chinese restaurant. Two doors down, in one of the smaller, 1200-square-foot suites, a nail salon will be setting up shop. Anchoring the center on the right corner will be the long-anticipated Albasha greek restaurant, which is slated to be 2600 square feet.
Xiao’s restaurant name came from his original home province in China, Foo Chow. However, Xiao considers himself a man of Walker now, and wants to grow with it.
“People were always pushing me toward a hibachi grill and a bigger restaurant,” Xiao said. “Here we are.”