March 2012

A culinary project years in the making is taking shape – and taking chances in Fondren. Fatsumo Sushi will open its doors in April to a crowd who has patiently watched as the Fondren Place space sat idle for many months. Now, the Gulf Coast’s Scott Meinka is taking a hands-on approach as construction crews finish what was started by another. “We were fortunate that the former project developer Brian Baker believed in us,” he said, “and helped us get into Fondren.” Baker’s chef, Jeremy Williams, passed away last August and Meinka, who worked with Williams, called the passing a tragedy. Meinka said “my heart goes out to his family, to Brian, and to their investors.”

Fatsumo Sushi will fit in nicely in this creative neighborhood as Meinka said he and his crew are artists. “Our medium is sushi, but not in the traditional sense,” he said. The Culinary Institute of America trained chef has a strong classical and Italian influence and said his sauces make the dish. “Got to have our sauces here, don’t we?” he asked with a laugh. “Sauces are the essence of American cuisine and our ginger orange marmalade seals the deal.” And what other favorites might he be bringing to our tables? Surf and turf is bacon wrapped shrimp and a pan seared rib eye in a balsamic cane sugar reduction. Room for more? How about sushi? Meinka says their Jamaican Me Crazy roll is fit for dessert with Jamaican jerk seasoning, toasted coconut, avocado, mango, cream cheese and shrimp tempura. “These blends of flavors have helped us develop a following.”

But that’s not all: Meinka says he is up for anything from pan fried noodles to Chateaubriand or a fresh ravioli. Fatsumo will cater and even has plans to develop a gluten free menu. “With Rainbow CoOp here,” he said, “this is the platform for us to try that.” Meinka says he wants this to be an American restaurant that serves high quality without bastardizing the product. And, he says personal service will be the rule. There are no sheets here to order your rolls. “That’s just too impersonal,” he told us. “Our staff is trained and know what they serve. We’re committed – and I’m hands on – and want to make sure it is right.”

Add to that a full bar that Meinka said he believes is right for Fondren, and a few other extras that he said will fit in here. “The colors and decor,” he told us, “will be over the top” unlike future locations that he said will be more simple. And several future locations are exactly what he plans. “We’re in a unique time,” he added, “and Fondren is getting us in the developmental stages.”

Meinka says the reception has been wonderful in Fondren, reminding him of Ocean Springs in its pre- Katrina days. On his walk around the block this week, getting to know the neighborhood, he told us he loved seeing the people strolling around. “I’m very impressed,” he said of the community, and said community is what drives his business. “We love to be a part of charity events and tastings and believe that the best way to engage our customers is to be a part of the organizations they are a part of as well.” Meinka will serve as operating partner and said he’ll “be around”, while another coastal resident, Edward Cooper, will live here as general manager.

Update: Fatsumo Sushi closed in late 2012.