When he asked why she spent so much time on meals, she would respond in French, “c’est la joie,” which translates to “for the joy.” When Harrison opened the Cedar Park restaurant in November 2020, he knew he had to pay homage.
“I thought what better name for a restaurant than to call it simply La Joie because we want to bring that to everyone every single time they eat with us or dine with us,” Harrison said. “We want to just make sure we bring them absolute joy [with] every single bite and every single time they’re here.”
One year later, Harrison said La Joie has tapped into a market craving more fine dining.
“The biggest thing I hear from our clientele is, ‘Thank you so much for coming to Cedar Park and taking a chance on us. We don’t want to see you go anywhere,’” Harrison said. “[La Joie] is more than just a dinner experience. We’re a family out here now.”
Previously, Harrison worked at Olamaie in Austin before it closed due to the pandemic in March 2020, but it is expected to reopen soon.
On top of the pandemic, the wave of social justice activism last year was hard for Harrison, who is Black, to ignore. He said he has typically stayed quiet around social justice issues, but realized the timing of his opening presented an opportunity to encourage others.
“I’m not the most outspoken person when it comes to it, but how I can make a difference is being a beacon of hope that this guy is going to still do it as an African American chef and step out there and go for it,” Harrison said.
Harrison has stayed true to his roots, with some of the most popular menu items including the shrimp and grits, which draws influence from both of his grandmothers, and the gumbo.
“You’re not going to get grandma’s gumbo anywhere else,” Harrison said.
1500 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste. 200, Cedar Park
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 4-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Mon.