Many of the restaurant owners on our “row” do not see themselves in a common light. They are owners from all walks of life. Most do not belong to neighborhood organizations due to cost constraints. Although they are neighbors, they are different as different can be. Indeed, it is difficult to even find a consensus as to whether or not they see themselves as a cohesive “community” of restaurants at all or merely a happenstance group brought about by fortuitous zoning.
And yet, whether they realize it or not, they all have something in common. Each of these establishments are bringing outsiders in. People from outside of the immediate Mid City area have connections with this row of establishments.
Some ties are obvious. Brocato’s is an institution. So is Mandina’s. These are the kind of establishments that one brings out-of-towners to for a taste of New Orleans.
Other connections are more nuanced. For example, many patrons of Venezia now visit when they make it back to New Orleans, a place they left when Katrina displaced them. Something about Venezia makes it worth coming back to; perhaps a desire to relive the nostalgia of late night pizza parties with college buddies back in the fifties and sixties. The owner tells us that these days some people have been known to make the trek across the lake on weekends to stop in for a visit.
Then there are the ties that few will ever notice. As it turns out, Juan’s Flying Burrito gets all of its lighting from two local artists, Mark Kirk and Heather Macfarlane. Furthermore, they provide a link to the artist’s website on their own site to help promote their business.
The owner of Doson’s Noodle House gets many of his ingredients from the Vietnamese community. Brocato’s goods can be found at restaurants and grocery stores throughout the city. In fact, they will even pack their gelato in dry-ice and send to those who yearn for a taste of Italy-or New Orleans. (Check out their site for mail-order Spumoni!)
It would seem that our “restaurant row” is not just a place for Mid City locals, but rather the epicenter of a far reaching web. If you are one of the many who makes the drive across town (or from out of town!) to frequent a favorite hangout on the “row”, please share your story with us. We’d like to know what keeps you coming back.