The Ruby Slipper is Not Your Typical Breakfast Joint

When I first walked into the ruby slipper, I was almost instantly floored by the amazing smells that filled the entire dining area. There were only 3 full tables in the entire restaurant, but somehow it smelled like they were cooking a feast in the kitchen. I arrived there at around 11:40am. I decided to get there before noon so I could witness the lunch rush madness. I ordered some tea and a delicious omelette  and sat by myself observing everything.   And sure enough, right at around 12:15 the place started to quickly fill up. It seemed like every minute, the waitress had to seat a new table. The front dining area filled up and people were being directed to sit in the back of the house. I asked my waitress if this was a normal weekday lunch crowd. She said it was a little busier than usual, but not completely uncommon. The crowd was mostly filled with young professions and students. I saw two girls doing homework while they ate. It was nice to see I wasn’t the only one!                                                                                                                           

The atmosphere was very nice and comfortable, but I have to admit—the omelette was delicious! It is no wonder why the people come in droves. It was a simple omelet with mushrooms and cheese, yet it tasted divine. Then I remembered that The Ruby Slipper proudly uses locally made products, and locally-based food sellers. According to their website, their, “sausage (pork breakfast links, chorizo, chicken sausage patties, andouille, and more) is made right in Mid-City, New Orleans by Creole Country Sausage. Their Dairy products come to us from Kleinpeter Farms Dairy; a Louisiana-based, family owned and operated dairy. Their breads are all locally baked and delivered fresh to our door by Leidenheimer, Wild Flour Breads, and La Louisiane Bakery”.  The Ruby Slipper also has a garden across the street from their Mid-City location, where they grow many of the herbs and vegetables used in their kitchen, as well as using a local recycling service and composting coffee grinds. So that’s what made this omelet better than the one at IHOP! Well, that and the service is much better. The Ruby Slipper is definitely not your typical breakfas joint.

                                                                                                                                                                            Since my last blog entry, I have done some research on the location of the Ruby Slipper. The only thing I have been able to find out is that before it was converted into the Slipper after Katrina, it was a rundown cornerstone that was famous for its many loiterers. This makes me wonder what the neighborhood was like before the Slipper. From I could see it was a pretty normal New Orleans neighborhood—there was street parking only, it was relatively quiet, and the sidewalks were pretty torn up. Did the neighborhood like that the corner store was closed down, or do people feel resentful that a neighborhood gathering place (of sorts) was tuned into a hipster eatery?            

Mid-City Restaurant Row Examined

When Professor Beriss first proposed this project, I was not surprised in the least that it involved food. Having taken one class with him before, I was already very aware of his love of all this fried and sautéed. I was, however, unsure of how we could apply anthropology to uncover how the new construction in the mid-city neighborhood would affect the currently open restaurants. Is that even the role of Anthropology? Are we even allowed to ask those questions? What can I even bring to this project? The answers to all knotty questions have been slowly detangling in my mind for the past few weeks.  

Over the course of this semester, the Applied Anthropology class at UNO will be looking at how the so-called Restaurant Row is going to be affected by the new construction of the Laffitte Greenway Project and the Mid-City Market. Both are scheduled to be completed by 2014, and will include the opening of some chain stores and restaurants as well as a grocery store and an Office Depot.

The row of restaurants we are going to be looking at stretches through the heart of Mid-City. I, Emily Bruner, have been paired up with my friend and classmate, Brooke Crepelle, to look at the Ruby Slipper Café  and Katie’s. Having never been to either of these restaurants before starting this project, I was a little worried about how they would fit in with the more popular ones on Restaurant Row (i.e. Brocato’s, Venizia, Wit’s Inn, etc.). I started to ask around to see if anyone had eaten at either of these places. None of my friend’s (even those who live in Mid-City) had heard of either of them. I will admit, the fact that none of my friends has heard of this place did scare me a little. Usually, if a place is really good, people know about it. Right? Turns out, that is not always the case. But more on that to come….

I personally did not discover the Restaurant Row until the beginning of my sophomore year at UNO. And having grown up in the New Orleans area, that is a pretty pathetic fact. But once I did find it, I began to spend most of my time there. I believe that since Katrina, this part of the city has been growing and becoming a very popular spot for people to go to eat, drink coffee, and hang out. It is interesting that so many diverse restaurants would be packed into the same general area. One point raised in class was that the diversity of the neighborhood was reflected in the diversity of the types of restaurants present. They have everything from Italian Creole to Chinese to Pizza joints to breakfast food to smoothies! There really is something there for everyone. That could be what draws so many people to this area in the first place—no matter what you are in the mood to eat, you can probably find it on Restaurant Row.

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