The New York Times on NOLA's Rising Restaurant Scene
By Gwendolyn Knapp | nola.eater.com
The New York Times actually acknowledges New Orleans' insanely growing Chia head of a restaurant scene this week. To put it all in perspective writer Shaila Dewan turns to T-Fitz for some boom-time documentation. Tom Fitzmorris' daily industry-abacus currently puts the tally at about 1,400 restaurants open for business in New Orleans, up from around 800 in 2004...yes, that's 70% more restaurants now than pre-Katrina even though the population is actually less. There are 66 restaurants on Magazine Street alone. Over 10% of jobs in the city are accounted for by the restaurant industry. So what is driving the growth? According to Dewan: a steady dose of tourism, an influx of YURP creatures, more people with money ("the population has more college degrees and more households that earn over $75,000 a year than it did before the storm") and even the movie industry.
As for the restaurants themselves, "banks have not reduced financing for new establishments" and these newcomers— Doris Metropolitan, Booty's, and Maurepas Foods are all referenced in the article, though go unnamed— "do not necessarily bother with traditional notions of New Orleans fare. They include Vietnamese storefronts and austerely chic establishments that could as easily be in Brooklyn or Chicago" and staff that is likely fresh off the boat from such places.
Dewan also notes that Grand Dames aren't left out of the boom, citing new ownership and revamps at Galatoire's and Broussard's alike. Dewan mentions that Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts/the brothers Ammari (owners of Broussard's, Kingfish, and more) plan "to open three new restaurants, two in the suburbs and one in the Quarter" by next year. She also notes popular off-the-tourist-grid restaurants like Brisbi's and Blue Crab,— that are helping resurrect West End and Lakefront dining wiped out by Katrina— have business primarily driven by locals.
Of course, "one big question is whether the city's newfound prosperity will stick or slip away as the rebuilding activity tapers off" (a.k.a. ain't dere no more syndrome), but restaurateur Patrick Singley seems certain of at least one more impending neighborhood renaissance anyways, this time on Rampart (and likely stretching into the St. Claude corridor) where his newly reopened Marti's resides: "I'm kind of ahead of it a little ways. I think the big boom will be in two years."
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