Me and my partner, Samantha, have chosen quite a pair of restaurants which couldn’t be any more opposite from one another, yet I think both represent New Orleans in a fair light. Redemption and Juicy Lucy are two of the newer additions to the Restaurant Row in which there has been no previous research by the Restaurant Recovery Row Project (RRRP). So it is quite refreshing to take on two totally new places. Historically speaking, the current building of Juicy Lucy has switched hands multiple times going back to the mid 1930’s, while Redemptions has only had two main previous entities-Christian and Grace Lutheran Church. Also historically, in the context of the city’s restaurant and food culture, there has been a dichotomy in the popular imagination: one being that New Orleans has beautiful long standing classic family owned restaurants and on the other hand known for having a “funky” atmosphere where “true” locals go to get great food before heading out to bars (most cases they are the same place)—usually these notions lean toward the latter. Areas like Mid City disband both schools of thought by actually infusing them together.
Before I even stepped into Juicy Lucy, the first thing I noticed was the noise; traffic passing right behind me, people passing right by me going to various places and in front of me were two tables, one of them occupied by a groups of ladies who were being blatantly being “hollered at” by the cooks from the Italian Pie next door. It was a relatively slow time that Monday afternoon, so servers were chilling outside the store front smoking cigarettes until a customer came. Their uniforms were very laxed, going beyond just jeans and a t-shirt. One server had multiple face piercings and full neck tattoos. He was the one that actually approached me for service. Despite the uber informalities, he was very nice; “ Hi how ya doing? Need a table for two?” to an unsuspecting tourist, they might think he was going to assault them. I informed him that I was an anthropology student from UNO continuing a two year project and that there are other students involved reviewing restaurants in the area. He said the owner was not available that day, I hope to interview him soon. In the meantime, it was lunchtime. When I was seated, I was facing a large wall sized mirror that gave the illusion of the space being bigger than what it was. Music from the local radio station was blaring and there were flat screen tvs by the bar. The wals are dawned in New Orleans/Mardi Gras décor and Juicy Lucy merchandise. When the food comes out, no plates; it’s just a basket lined with blue and white checkered paper. If you’d like, you can have a glass of red wine with your meal, for the wine case is see through and visible from the dining area. Overall Juicy Lucy offers a very no frills space to enjoy a bite to eat, hang out with friends, coworkers, etc and hang out at the bar, or catch a game on tv as with most places in this area. However, one would not know that what lies three blocks down Iberville is a whole other deal.
TO BE CONTINUED: SEE PART II