We all in de same pirogue, cher

I’ve never eaten there, but this article outlines the tough times being faced by the city’s oldest restaurant. They’re not the only ones — not by a long shot. You can name virtually any upscale eatery in town and they’re hurting. Hell — a lot of the less formal places are also facing problems brought on or left in the wake of the hurricane, the flood, the insurance hassles, the loss of customers due to shrunken population and tourism, etc., etc., too many damn etcs.

It occurs to me to help by simply going there to eat. I mean, I’ve got a nice jacket and I enjoy spending time in Da Quawtah and it’s not far away and a cab ride’s not overly pricey. I’m a culinary kinda guy and it’s been too long since TBK got a chance to get all girled up. Her birthday’s coming up in February and yadda yadda. Maybe we WILL go there around her birthday (though not ON her birthday, since that’s Endymion parade night). So yeah — pencil us in, garcon…..

….but “pencil” is the operative word here. We’ll get back to you. Really.

Ever since the population started returning and places started opening back up, just about everyone who’s been here and had an extra dollar to spend and brought friends/family to town has been working to spend it locally. That’s what it’s all about, right? We’d rather see our dollars stay home to help the next-door neighbor rebuild than see that cash go flying (in part) off to some chain operation in Dallas, Tampa, Atlanta, Orlando or elsewhere (except Popeye’s, which is now Atlanta-based. Popeye’s rocks). I know the chains hire plenty of locals — but you know what I mean.

The problem is we’ve passed the point of overload. There simply aren’t enough of us living here anymore to keep so many of the local icons up and running. The current population of Orleans Parish remains roughly half of what it was before the flood — and that means only so many people with only so much money buying only so many meals or making only so many other purchases in so many days. If we want a nice night out in the French Quarter and we go to Antoine’s — it means we’re not going to Galatoire’s. Or Tujague’s. Or Muriel’s. Next time we go out, we’ll hit one of the other places — but will all those other places still be around six months later when we can afford to go? Maybe. But the “maybe not” is now looming much larger than before.

Increasing tourism helps, of course. We gotta keep banging that drum, since there are far too many misconceptions still out there. Carnival’s coming up and it’ll be drawing more tourists this time around simply because there’s more space for them than last year. But some of the old places are going to be simply going out for good — and it’ll have nothing to do with how they’re managed, what kind of tradition they have, the quality has suffered or because the locals and the tourists aren’t supporting them. It’ll just come down to numbers.

…and I hate that. My hope is that when they DO go out, their place is taken by some other enterprising man/woman who wants to give it their own local shot. I can’t stand the thought of walking down Royal St and seeing a sign in the old Antoine’s window, saying “Coming Soon! Outback Steakhouse.”

5 Comments so far

  1. roux (unregistered) on December 26th, 2006 @ 8:00 am

    We came down Saturday. It is wierd how few people were in the city. Canal street was practically empty. Even the quarter looked pretty light.

  2. Jack Ware (unregistered) on December 26th, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

    The irony is that the corporate “Outbackesc” places are more able to absorb the shock of a major event like Katrina due to the fact that they virtually blanket the country. But then you see Taco bell making a much smaller, less energetic comeback even though, they have the best odds at having employees and customers if the crime rate tells us anything. (I used to really like Taco Bell but I find it hard to think well of them) And someone told me the other day, that Macy’s is/has quietly backing out of New Orleans entirely.

    Someone should compile a list of all the “national/regional” places that have or are bailing on the city.

  3. Jack Ware (unregistered) on December 26th, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

    It may also be interesting to see which businesses are just trying to hang on through Carnival in hopes to eliminate some of their acquired debt or possibly break even before going out of business.

    In the same vain, many people have told me they’re waiting until after Carnival to move out of the city.

    Spring could be very sad this year for the city

  4. bcvs (unregistered) on December 27th, 2006 @ 1:03 am

    And nobody’s demanding Bush’s and Cheney’s IMPEACHMENT?

  5. Elle (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

    um, is Ray Nagin still in office? He has disappeared from the national radar along with your governor.

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