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The coming closings of many old time new orleans restaurants

Ill list Brennans, felixs, and I think broussards and arnauds will probably go in the next ten years, and quite possibly Antoines. Chow hounds give these places nothing but grief and they will die a horrible death. And then new orleans will be left with a bunch of upstart places just like everywhere in america. outside of galatoires the old school places are always almost always ripped to shreds. chowhounders shame on you.

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  1. Restaurants exist to serve food. Good restaurants serve good food. People who want to eat good food will go to restaurants that serve good food.

    I am not going out to eat in a restaurant that insults me (and my bank account) by serving mediocre food with poor service.

    I have been urging myself to go to the old school places over the last few years. The results have been mixed. My visits to the upstart places have been mixed, but over all they have supplied much better meals and service.

    It is a VERY competitive business. And an irrational one. There are mediocre restaurants that are busy and good upstarts that fail (of course the failure can come from many things other than the quality of the food)

    I don't want to see some of the old places go. I'd love to go into Kolb's again. But they have to be, in some way, competitive.

    20 Replies
    1. re: collardman

      So true.

      Reflecting on the requests from this board (maybe not an ideal cross-section of folk traveling to NOLA to dine), it seems that most are looking for the location of a Tommy Bahama, or Hard Rock Cafe. They want down-scale, similar to what they get in Seattle, or wherever, and be able to wear cut-offs, flip-flops and a tank top.

      Those looking for up-scale, seem to want Morton's, just like they experience in Chicago, or Detroit, and never care about NOLA cuisine.

      Personally, I find this "trend" to be a shame, but then I have my memories (think Kolb's here). Even some places, that had let us down, in my past, have "risen to the occasion," and have earned a spot, higher up on MY list. Stuff changes, from restaurants, to chefs, to personal palates.

      I do love many of the newer restaurants, but also have loved the older group too.

      I will let the newcomers head to a "Hand Grenade" stand, and then to the nearest Hard Rock Cafe, for dinner. Just not my scene. [OT - we are in London 2 - 4x per year, and stay at the Hilton Park Lane. We dine at upper-end restaurants, but have to walk past the Hard Rock Cafe, on the way to Piccadilly, and our evening meal. The lines go around the block, and people actually pay people to stand in line for them, sort of like Galatoire's. Odd, but that is just me.]

      I am sorry, but I do not want to dine in NOLA, in a restaurant that exists in almost any large city, around the world. I call those "Adult McDonalds."

      Hunt

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        You wrote:

        "Reflecting on the requests from this board (maybe not an ideal cross-section of folk traveling to NOLA to dine), it seems that most are looking for the location of a Tommy Bahama, or Hard Rock Cafe."

        Are we reading the same posts? Most people here are asking "Commander's or Galatoire's?" ... or so it seems.

        Maybe I've been living under a rock but what you say here doesn't ring true: local, non-chain places seem to be doing just fine on the whole, both low key spots and fine dining. That Brennan's isn't (apparently) is not an indicator that the so-called up-scale visitors to NOLA are all flocking to Morton's.

        More generally on the topic of the demise of the old timers: I'll point out that praising newcomers isn't the same thing as bashing the traditional places. It's fine to continue to enjoy the classics, I certainly do, but you're a fool to think that the upstarts on Freret and the in Bywater -- for example -- aren't contributing a lot to the city, having an impact that goes far beyond just providing another place to eat.

          1. re: montuori

            Well, I am basing my comments on the vast number of requests for "low-end," or "cheap dining." Obviously, that excludes many of the "Grand Dames."

            Next, we see so many requests for suggestions, where "cut-offs, flip-flops, and tank tops, are accepted," that I am left to assume that many (most?) do not wish to dress for dinner.

            How would you read those common requests?

            Maybe I am just the fool?

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Bill, you and I have exchanged comments enough [as have many others] to know you are in no way a fool. But I myself am constantly on the lookout for great cheap, low-end dining. Not because I am cheap, but because I find them memorable, and yes, I do not wish to dress for dinner, even though I never wear cut-offs,flip-flops, or tank-tops [I know how I make them look] and am no fanny-packer. I consider a necktie barely a step above a noose, and for me any suit might as well be a clown suit.

              I have experienced most of the 'Grand Dames' in the past, do not feel the need to do so again, and am more interested in finding a new Coop's than I am a new Galatoire's.

              1. re: Fydeaux

                I remember a series on TV. Franks Place. What a find that would be. I am coming to NO and plan on hitting some of the Old Great Places but would be tickled to find a small unknown place. Love NO. See ya soon.

                1. re: Fydeaux

                  In NOLA, there are some GREAT, less expensive fare. I will never fault that, and when we lived in NOLA, were happy to enjoy many.

                  Now, travelers to NOLA seem to be looking for something else. Mostly, they appear to want cheap, they want familiar (to them, from where the come), and very casual - no trousers, no jackets, and certainly no ties. They do not appreciate a "fine-dining experience," at least as I know it.

                  I field many requests for what I term "Adult McDonalds," as most want exactly what they know in Chicago, Detroit, or elsewhere. They want Morton's, and just do not care to experience NOLA cuisine. To me, that is a horrible shame.

                  Just using one possible example, why would one want to do something, just like what they have at home, when they could do Parkway Bakery?

                  I do not think that we are that far apart, though I DO have a place in my heart for those "Grand Dames," since I grew up with them, and find that many are unique to NOLA.

                  When I see a myriad posts, along the lines of "We love Hard Rock Cafe, and wonder what we should order in New Orleans," I gasp for breath, but maybe that is just me?

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    This is what I mean. I never heard anything about the Parkway Bakery. Where are there other places like this. I only do research when I'm coming down so I apologize my ignorance.

                    1. re: ibew292

                      Parkway Bakery and Tavern should show up in every thread, discussing po-boys.

                      Like most po-boy shops, it is down-scale, but still very charming, with very good po-boys.

                      New Orleans is full of such places. Most are unique, and offer something special, whether a dish, a charm or maybe just good food, at a good price. It just depends on what a person wants.

                      Good luck and enjoy,

                      Hunt

                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      <<Now, travelers to NOLA seem to be looking for something else. Mostly, they appear to want cheap, they want familiar (to them, from where the come), and very casual - no trousers, no jackets, and certainly no ties. >>

                      Let's face it, you could replace 'NOLA' in this phrase with the name of virtually any other place in the world and it would be just as valid.

                      And anyone who asks what they should order at Hard Rock or Bubba Gump's or Appleby's and still calls onemself any kind of food aficionado [a Chowhound by any other name...] needs to be disabused of that notion immediately. I feel about them as I do about people who travel hundreds of miles and only shop at malls. Or people who think Eddie Van Halen is a great guitar player in a world where the recordings of Danny Gatton, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Jimmy Vivino can be heard.

                      I dont have much to say about the 'Grand Dames'. I have eaten at several; enjoyed them, but have no desire to go back. And when you get down to it, how different is the person who HAS to eat at Commander's every time they visit N.O. but wont try Coop's, from one who will only eat at chains they have 'back home'? They're both set in their ways, and Edesia bless them all.

                      I am not about to 'block bust' any establishment that wont be pleased to have me dressed casually, regardless of how good their food is reputed to be. My personal comfort is the one thing more important to me than the best terrapin soup in the world.

                      So Bill, the next time we are both at Molly's at the Market, I would be honoured to buy you a drink and a bowl of the best gumbo I have ever had other than from my own kitchen. But I'm afraid I wont be able to join you at Galatoire's; I dont have the right clothing with me. (^-^)

                      1. re: Fydeaux

                        <<Let's face it, you could replace 'NOLA' in this phrase with the name of virtually any other place in the world and it would be just as valid.

                        And anyone who asks what they should order at Hard Rock or Bubba Gump's or Appleby's and still calls onemself any kind of food aficionado [a Chowhound by any other name...] needs to be disabused of that notion immediately. I feel about them as I do about people who travel hundreds of miles and only shop at malls.>>

                        No arguments from me, with the possible exception that NOLA probably has more great, and unique restaurants, than nearly every other city in the US. Luckily, we are on CH, or I'd go ballistic on the "shopping" aspect - a pet peeve. I see this all too often in my travels. People fly into, say San Francisco, from Phoenix, just to shop. Instead of going to unique establishments, they head to the Westfield Mall, and shop at the same exact stores, that they left behind in Phoenix!

                        Well, the dining attire IS a big issue, and it seems to be getting bigger, as people want to wear the same clothes, that they would don to do a "swamp tour."

                        Make you a deal - I will buy at Molly's, but you probably have to take me in a blazer. We will not even bother with Galatoire's.

                        Hunt

                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                    I read requests for cheap places or restaurants that don't require much dressing up at face value, figuring that if people really wanted the Hard Rock or Starbucks there'd be no reason to come round to CH looking for recs.

                    Actually, I particularly enjoy discussions about places I've never heard of *especially* when they're low rent. It's pretty easy to find excellent expensive (and local) places but there are hundreds of neighborhood joints in NOLA, some are very good, some are overrated, some are just awful. Reading reviews and recommendations for these places is hugely valuable. Perhaps I'm misguided but I figured people asking about cheap eats pretty much have the fine dining sorted and want to branch out.

                    But also: I'm not ready to admit that civilization is ending because there are people who don't want to dress for dinner. As much as I like to eat well I enjoy motorcycling more, and it's very difficult to pack a dress shirt and jacket in a tank bag. (Though not impossible -- a story for another time.) When we go motoring I'm often the one asking around for places that I can walk into wearing riding clothes and boots. I don't think that because I'm unfit for Commander's that I have to resign myself to Appleby's.

                    I doubt that everyone asking for "casual dress" has the same reason as me ... but they might have *some* reason and so I try not to just assume they're unwilling to put in the effort.

                    And, of course, I didn't mean to imply you were being foolish. If anything, maybe just a tad pessimistic!

                    (The whole thread is a downer. It's true that the old places are closing up shop everywhere but generalizing on the reasons is a mistake. Locke Ober in Boston closed because Shire left and they were adrift without leadership (and had a terrible bar program, and were in what's become the worst location ever); Maison Robert (another staple on the Boston scene), on the other hand, closed because the family wanted to retire. Given what's been in the paper about Brennan's, that seems more like fiscal irresponsibility than declining sales, though no doubt fewer covers isn't helping.)

                    1. re: montuori

                      Well, it is mt suspicion that if Locke's can go then any Big House can. Their problem..apart from teh Filene
                      s diasco..appears to have been thatnp one anted to ventureout threr even though ti is not that far from otherm succcessful plaes. Maison Robert would probably have run intot he smaeproblem if they'd kept it going. I just look at the old places I have known in other cities and see them dying out. NOLA is always a few years behind the times so it might take a little long. But look at what a chacking great dinner at Antoine's was even thirty years ago--and siilar for Locke-Ober--and you don;t see that much anymore. And Antoines is huge so there is high overhead. They've gotteh Protesu lunch that will keep things going and teh Xmas stuff and other Carnival affiars..but wht about July? I don;t think people come from Missouri to have Dinner At Antoine's anymore. ANd part of teh prblem is thatthe Regulars are dying and their children and grandchildren are not taking up teh salck as they should. SOmetimes it takes those regulars to help teh place stay on top (I remember when pompano could be sold from a guy's trunck to the restaurant. I know what the law is but they did it.) WOrd got acound that Doctor so-and-so had x number of wahtever he'd caught... But thqt was a different day.

                      It is just that teh trac record for old places is running poor to form. As to the raiment issue, I suspect that where your view os commonplace and not wrong, it is when people cease having standards that the Gates Are Open. I read a food critic talk about rating restaurants with his months-old-son and thought to myself "What madehim thaink that would work?" And, of course, he didn;t know any better.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        Uh Hazel, it might be time to go back to a full-size keyboard. Just sayin', ya know?

                        1. re: Fydeaux

                          LOL!

                          I sort of felt the same way, and am a big fan of Hazelhurt.

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            Since you ask, I have a patch over one eye and my glasses don't fitso I am flying--if not blind--then myopic. Sorry

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              Sorry to hear that, Hazel! I hope whatever it is is a temporary condition.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                Was this from one of those "unfortunate Champagne cork incidents?"

                                Get well soon,

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I wish it were that elegant. S'far as I know, it is nothing crabmeat sardou ( led up to with an artichoke hollandaise) cannot fix but the Carnival parades are going to be viewed largely from the back of a porch with the protection of a column. Well, I retired from Parade Chasing when I was 35 and have been lured out to show the kids a thing -or-two only twice in 20 years.

                2. A visitors perception of a place often differs from the reality of a place. I know many natives who have never patronized the old line creole places for a wide variety of reasons. You could always eat very well without ever darkening the door of the old war horses. I've been thinking about this topic lately, as I recently found a copy of the Luchows cookbook. Luchows survived in NYC for more than a hundred years before it closed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luchow&#... The cookbook records an extremely meat centric, heavy German cuisine. Tastes change, diners expectations change. C'est la vie.

                  And our "upstarts" are hardly identical to those of SanFran, Portland, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    HC,

                    I agree. I would never mistake R'evolution, or Stella!, or MiLa for anything that we experience in San Francisco (about 2x per month). But... I would never mistake anything there (some great food, IMHO), for Galatoire's, Tujacques, Antoine's, Brennan's, Arnaud's, or Bon Ton.

                    Planning a "farewell tour," and hope to get there in time.

                    Hunt

                  2. Where are you getting this information from?

                    1. Brennan's is obviously in deep financial difficulty. But that is hardly the result of Brennan's getting insufficient love on Chowhound.

                      Felix's, on the other hand has new ownership and has been the recipient of a series of compliments on Chowhound since their re-opening last month.

                      The other restaurants mentioned in your post do get mixed reviews here. These are famed, long-time restaurants that enjoy a lot of forward momentum based upon their name recognition. If they fail to continue to attract visitors and locals, despite the advantages of that name recognition, that will be the result of their own failure to keep pace in a city that offers a wealth of outstanding options.

                      Shame on Chowhounders if we ever STOP offering honest opinions. To think that our opinions (either way) can make or break a historic restaurant like Antoine's or Brennan's is absurd, IMO.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gizmo56

                        Honest opinions are what it IS about. That should not change.

                        That is why I have posted of many of our more recent, great experiences at Brennan's (not a favorite, back in the '70s., when we lived in the City), Broussard's and Arnaud's. When I receive good food, and great service, I post of it, regardless of what many might like.

                        Antoine's holds many memories, and a few ghosts, at least for me. The last trip, pre-K, was not stellar, but that was then, and this is now. Many respected posters have urged me to try them again, post-K, and I plan to do so.

                        I only hope to wrangle enough days/nights, to hit them all. If not, then that is MY problem, and I will try to live with it.

                        While I want to get back for a second visit to R'evolution, that can wait - maybe the following trip.

                        In the past, I tried to do a couple of the my "old favs," and then work in a few of the "new guys," but next trip will not be structured that way - "old school" only, while they still exist.

                        In a nod to Collardman, glad that we did a final trip to Kolb's, before they closed. I am so fortunate to have done so.

                        Soon, maybe WYES will do a series on the "Recent, Late, Great Restaurants of NOLA." I want to experience those, before they become a footnote in the history of NOLA cuisine and restaurants. Then, I will buy the DVD set.

                        Hunt

                      2. More like shame on the restaurants mentioned. Resting on their laurels. They'll get what they deserve.

                        9 Replies
                          1. re: N.O.Food

                            Or, is it a changing clientele? Seems that most, nowadays, want what they have "back home," and in the most casual clothes imaginable.

                            Not many really think about NOLA cuisine anymore. They want something else, regardless of where they travel. I see this on many boards, where travelers want the location of the nearest Morton's, just like they experience back home. To too many, that is a "comfort" choice, and they could care less about regional cuisine, or history.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill, we nearly always agree, but I actually think many visitors come to New Orleans eagerly seeking "NOLA cuisine," rather than a familiar clone of their local Morton's. New Orleans is refreshingly free of those sorts of chain establishments, and most of the competition to the grand dames comes from independent local operators.

                              And if you look in the standard tourist guides, like Fodor's and Frommer's, the grand dames still score quite well, on average.

                              Brennan's obviously has suffered from poor financial management and is now in genuine danger of imminent collapse. Galatoire's, on the other hand, is expanding this year, both enlarging the FQ operation and re-opening the Baton Rouge spin-off. Felix's has a new lease on life with new ownership and operating capital.

                              Nobody wants to see historic restaurants fail. If anything, the famous spots enjoy an extra competitive advantage in the market place, due to their special name recognition. There is no inherent reason why any of the named restaurants should fail, if they keep their game stepped up, for food, service, and atmosphere, and if they are well-managed ( which apparently Brennan's was not).

                              This thread is somewhat maddening to me. Joedontexan tells Chowhounders that they should be ashamed, the replies pile up, and Joedon retreats back under his bridge watching the uproar and has nothing further to say.

                              I don't see any real evidence that supports the notion that the grand dames are an endangered species, provided that they pursue excellence in every aspect of their business.

                              There will always be new restaurants, new chefs, new dishes. At one time, every NOLA classic was a new "trendy" dish, like the first BBQ shrimp at Pascal's Manale. Thankfully, the city's cuisine is not static. New Orleans is not a theme park for old Creole. There is still ample room for the classic dishes served in classic spaces, but there is no shame in honestly reporting when such establishments don't quite deliver the goods, or when newer restaurants do.

                              1. re: Gizmo56

                                Gizmo I have come out from under my bridge. yes I have a few things to say. If you think losing Antoines would not be a big deal your wrong. New Orleans is a very unique city with a lot of history and tradition. Losing a place like Antoines is losing history and tradition making new orleans more and more like just another bland city anywhere america. New Orleans in 1861 was ground zero for southern culture. And believe it or not in my mind still is. My great great grandfather joined the Confederate army in New Orleans in 1861. Did he dine at Antoines which was already 21 years old at this point. Doubtful as he was a poor farm boy, but he might have walked by it. And I dig that! I find comfort on my trips that its still there, I dont always dine there every trip but I want it there, history and tradition. Otherwise without it New Orleans is more and more just a place with some old buildings. I make no apologies as I am somewhat of a traditionalist. And with that in the words of Paul Harvey Good Day!

                                1. re: joedontexan

                                  I never said that losing Antoine's would not be a big deal. I root for all of the historic properties to remain at the top of their game, so that they will still be preserving the tradition for decades to come.

                                  But there is no cause for "shame" when a Chowhounder reports a less than stellar experience at Antoine's, or a great experience elsewhere. If anything, the occasional gripe should push the ownership and management at the grand dames not to "coast" on their considerable reputations, but instead to make certain that all of their patrons will have a dining experience that will make them want to return, even in a city with so many wonderful options.

                                  1. re: Gizmo56

                                    Now, this goes back to pre-K, but I did just that - panned a visit to Antoine's. That broke my heart, and on several levels.

                                    When I was about 5 - 6 years old, I was taken to Antoine's, as a real treat. I enjoyed it. In later years, I was able to return, many times. Same for Galatoire's. Those became a tradition for me, with many great memories (and one, not so great, but "character-building," none the less), and I was devastated.

                                    Hearing that many things had changed (and some, changed "back"), made me glad. We have not fit them into the mix, but hope to do a "Grand Dame Farewell Tour," in the very near future, before some are but footnotes in history.

                                    Hunt

                                2. re: Gizmo56

                                  Yes, we do often agree on many restaurants.

                                  I only hope that most do NOT want the "same old - same old," but see such , even in a wonderful culinary city, as New Orleans. Now, NOLA is not alone, nor immune. I see such requests on the Hawai`i board, where travelers want reports on a Morton's, or a Ruth's. I mean why go to Hawai`i, if one wishes to eat the exact same food, that they have in Chicago?

                                  Your comment on the "financial" aspect of Brennan's is a great one. Many things can sink a restaurant, and even one with hard-bound books, and decades of history. Stuff happens, and some of it is outside the purview of just the food.

                                  I do enjoy the "new" NOLA Cuisine, and applaud the chefs, who are heading in that direction. I have been a fan of Stella! (have not tried the new menus yet), though many decried that they did not do "pure" NOLA Cuisine.

                                  However, and with that said, I still enjoy the more "traditional NOLA Cuisine," and feel sorry, that some might be passing into the history books.

                                  Otherwise, I agree with you 100%. NOLA is NOT a "time capsule," and it should never be.

                                  Hunt

                                3. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Agree wholeheartedly that, given the restrictions of air travel today, people pack to travel in a more casual manner. But a couple of thing are at work here. Certainly people may not be as immersed in local culture (Creole/Cajun) as in time past but much of that is due to a lack of awareness. How many visitors to NO know what Marchand De Vin sauce is? Or Eggs Hussarde?
                                  They might embrace both given the opportunity. And then you have the change in palate of the modern "foodie", wanting a lighter, newer take on a classic cuisine (think Susan Spicer at Bayona). You guys have discussed the Grand Dames of NOLA cuisine. Think they will or need to adapt to these new realities of food and travel?

                                  1. re: sanchoponza

                                    <<And then you have the change in palate of the modern "foodie", wanting a lighter, newer take on a classic cuisine (think Susan Spicer at Bayona).>>

                                    Great point here. Immediately before Katrina, we did the "Grand Dames Tour," but by the end of the week, we were at Galatoire's, and my wife (the NOLA native), asked our server, "What do you have, that is not dredged in butter?" She had hit her "wall." As you comment, often one DOES want a lighter choice. Guess that we had been away too long, and had become used to "lighter fare." While the dining was great, flavorful, and also historic (great memories for us), after a full week, it became too heavy. What we grew up with, tended to overwhelm us, at the end of the trip - a little could go a long way. Is that a bad thing? In smaller doses, no way, IMHO, but a full week... ? Well, my wife was "done."

                                    Do I regret our "tour?" No way, as within 2 mos. many things had changed forever.

                                    Hunt