Researching Building History!

One of our assignments for our Restaurant Row Recovery project was to find the history of the buildings that our current assigned restaurants now reside in.  At first, I was super excited to do this part of our research.  I knew it would be very interesting to seek out this kind of information.  The past has always sparked my interest.

As the semester progressed, finding the building histories turned out to be quite the adventure.  At first, I really did not know where to start because I had never done this kind of research before (researching the history of a building).  Mr. David Beriss (our professor) directed our class to a past blog post, written by a previous student, on how to find the history of a building, so that is where I began.  To find the blog that I am referring to, scroll down for a while.  The title of the blog is “Finding the Roots of Place,” written by Seth Gray on July 13th, 2010. Seth’s blog gives very good links and instructions on how and where to go to find the history of a building.

My first attempt to find the building histories was a visit to the New Orleans Notarial Archives ( at 1340 Poydras Street, Suite 500 New Orleans, LA 70112.  After I arrived, I was directed to the conveyance office on the 4th floor by the nice lady who was working the front desk on the first floor.  As I walked into the office, I started to get really excited to find the information and was very sure that I was about to learn so much.  This feeling rapidly disappeared as soon as I opened the first book I was directed to.  I was rapidly bombarded with tons of confusing codes, numbers, and realty terms.  Let’s just say, information overload.  My trip to the conveyance office did not turn out as I had hoped.

Luckily though, after my experience at the conveyance office, I expressed my frustrations with one of my classmates, Erin Kinchen.  She was so helpful and directed me to the New Orleans Public Library (  She had informed me that the city directories were located here, which listed many addresses in New Orleans and what businesses they had previously been (Yes!! That was exactly what I was looking for!). Thank you again, Erin!

The next day I headed to the library and found everything Erin had told me about.  This was actually really fun for me, especially because this was the first time I had ever looked through micro-films (before the year 1960, all of the city directories were only available in micro-film).  After hours of going through micro-films and books, from 1940 to now, I now can present to you the building history of my partner and I’s restaurants: WOW Café & Wingery, El Rinconcito, and Kjean’s Seafood. Success!

218 North Carrollton Ave (El Rinconcito)

1940-1946: Vacant

1947-1955: Gould WM J Dentist

1956-1961: Dentist/ Mid City Hardware Store

1962-1970: Dentist/ TuFrens Beauty Salon

1972-1975: Dentist

1976-1979: Dentist/ Don’s Salon of Beauty

1980-1981: Dentist

1982-1998: no longer listed in directory

1999-2002: Vu Chong H. (possibly Pho Tau Bay?)

2003-2006: no longer listed in directory (but could possibly still be Pho Tau Bay)

2006-Present: El Rinconcito

231 North Carrollton Ave (WOW Café and Wingery)

1940-1944: Wagner Marine Sales & Services CO

1945-1946: Vacant

1947-1952: Haring OE Inc. (parts department)

1953-1955: Colonial Buick Co.

1956-1989: Regal Tire Service

1990-1996: Sound Warehouse Music & Movies

1997-2006: Blockbuster

(Though, the City Directory listed Wherehouse Entertainment Records from 2001-2006)

2007: Clear Channel Radio, Direct Access TV, Sprint, and WOW Café and Wingery

2008-2009: Direct Access TV, Papa Johns, Singer Kitchens, WOW Café and Wingery, and B Athletes Foot

2010: Subway was added

2011-Present: Papa Johns, Singer Kitchens, Neighborhood Pet Market, WOW, and Subway

236 North Carrollton Ave (Kjean’s Seafood)

1940-1988: address was not listed in City Directory

1989-1992: Caballero’s Quality Seafood

1992-Present: Kjean’s Seafood

Hope y’all enjoyed the history! Have a great day! –Rachael Horn

WOW Cafe & Wingery in Mid-City

Today on this beautiful Tuesday afternoon (March 27, 2012) I made my way down Bienville Street, heading to WOW Café & Wingery in Mid-City.  Immediately, I noticed what was happening right across the street from WOW café.  The demolition process had begun for the construction of the Winn-Dixie shopping complex, which will include Office Depot, Neighborhood Pet Market by Jefferson Feed, Felipe’s Taqueria, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pei Wei Asian Diner, and Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt.

As I entered WOW Café, I immediately began to take in the sports-themed atmosphere.  Flat screen TVs lined the walls displaying various sports channels.  Also, local high school football helmets are lined throughout the restaurant, along with sports-themed pictures, such as a NASCAR vehicle decorated with the WOW Café & Wingery logo.  It was not very busy at this time, but it did begin to pick up quickly as lunchtime approached.  There was music playing in the background that was mixed with the humming sound of the daiquiri machines that were located behind the bar.  The bar also served many local beers, such as LA 31, Covington Strawberry, Tin Roof Amber Ale, and Tin Roof Blonde Ale.

After I soaked in the atmosphere of WOW, I decided to take a seat at the bar.  The friendly waitresses then greeted me and then took my drink and food order.  I asked them if I could speak with the manager who was working at this time.  The manager working today was Ross McStay.  I introduced myself to Ross and explained to him about our Restaurant Row Recovery project.  He was very nice and said that he would be glad to answer any questions I may have had for him.


After eating my West Coast Veggie sandwich on Texas Toast, I preceded to ask Ross a few questions.  First, I briefly told Ross about the new plans of development in this Mid-City area.  He said that he was aware of the plans, and was quite thankful that something new was finally being built in the area across the street from WOW.  He said that he was tired of having to look at an abandoned building through the windows of WOW every time he was working.  I asked Ross what his opinions were on the construction of the new complex.  Ross replied that he was looking forward to the new complex and that he was happy to have other businesses built because it will bring more people to the area.  He also said that he was not worried about the competition of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, because the majority of WOWs sales come from their wings.

Speaking of wings, as we all know wings are very much associated with football season.  Ross said that he would definitely say that the busiest time of the year for WOW is football season, and not only when the Saints are playing (even though he said that it can get pretty crazy in WOW during a Saints game!).  Any Sunday or Monday night football game always brings in a decent amount of people into WOW Café in Mid-City.  Ross also told me that there is around a one thousand dollar difference in their sales when you compare football season time to other parts of the year.  I also asked Ross if he felt that the majority of their clientele are residents from the surrounding Mid-City neighborhood.  While he might not have known for sure, he felt that, yes, the majority of the clients are from the surrounding area.

I had a very nice and relaxing time speaking with Ross at WOW Café in Mid-City today.  My partner, Mark Paternostro, and I will also be researching El Rinconcito and Kjean’s Seafood.  More to come about our restaurants in the future!  Next time we hope to present some interviews from the owners of our restaurants.  Thanks for following our Restaurant Row Recovery blog and have a wonderful day!

-Rachael Horn