Beauty and the Beast: Part II

Merchandise sold in Juicy, next to the bar. Photo By Stephanie Edwards

Just three blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the area busy thoroughfare and into the residential side lies a a quietness, a peacefulness that is otherworldly from what lies a stone’s throw away. Birds chirping, and casual footsteps along the sidewalks awaited me as I approached Grace Lutheran and Christian’s successor, Redemption. What I noticed immediately is how they repurposed the info booth outside the church to house the menus, and the restaurant’s mission statement. As I approached the glass enclosed marquee entrance I already felt out of place and under-dressed. I know they say you can come to church as you are, but this ain’t a church no more! As I was in nothing more than the equivalent of gym clothes I almost turned around and left. However when I went in hostess might as well been an usher because she was very welcoming. As I stepped in , it almost felt magical. It felt like somewhere I’ve been before even though I never stepped in here. Despite the high ceilings, the space felt warm and romantic with a rose on every table and a local painting on every wall. Servers, of course were a far cry from those at Juicy Lucy, with their all black ensemble, clean shaven faces and non-visible tattoos. Also to mention there were no cigarette butts lining the sidewalks. As for Juicy Lucy, staff smoke out in front while waiting for customers. I’m sure Redemption has a designated area in the back for that.

Photos like this are by local artists are hangin on the walls throughout Redemption depicting French Quarter architecture and jazz musicians.

After my first visit, I would then later on return ( in my sunday best, no pun intended)  to interview Greg Picola, the Executive chef and General Manager of Redemption. For a leading chef in New Orleans that works 85-90 hours a week, and to what many say is the main reason people have been attracted to Redemption, he came off as very modest, warm and familiar to talk to. I felt as though I was talking to longtime friend of my mom’s. He even offered me something to drink, at no charge. He has been working for Redemption for 6 months, before that he was renowned for his culinary expertise at The Bistro at Maison de Ville for over 20 years. Before I interviewed him, both Samantha and I talked to Denise, who is Mike Juan’s “Gateway,” as she puts it; She has been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years also, working at such venues in Fort Walton Beach in Florida, California, and 11 years at Houston’s on St. Charles as a manager. She wrote employee manuals and was lead manager during her career. The interviews had their similarities and stark differences.

Both felt that Mid City Market and Lafitte Greenway Project will attract more people to the area, that it can only get better for Mid-city/Carrollton altogether. However as far as the area itself, Denise feels that it is very competitive, she made that very apparent while trying to reassert the strength in that area: ” We sell over 900 hamburgers a week…. there are people that come over the Bonne Carrie Spillway just to come here.” She would also probably feels this way due to the oncoming of a Five Guys burger joint that will open in the market. On the other hand, Greg Picolo does not believe in external competition, but rather a community of restaurants that work to serve the neighborhood. He fells that “…Just as long as people are doing their own thing and not stealing from anyone, it’s alright” he has a concept of internal competition, by you doing your very best and working hard in whatever you’re doing. He did address a issue of the neighborhood that Beriss mentioned in class: the amount of fine dining establishments that have crept up in the area such as Redemption, Cafe Minh, Rue 127, Canal St. Bistro and the like, “It feels these place are more for people who are coming here from other places rather than those who have actually been living here…places like Palmer and there was this place you can get plate of red beans, sausage, and rice for under 10 dollars, all that gone.” As for the future of both places, Juicy Lucy has expanded to Metairie on Houma Blvd which long-housed the Texas Barbeque Company. As for Redemption, they are going to stay at their current location and really work on building up their name and distinguishability. In all I encourage everyone to go to both places and think of New Orleans in terms of both places. If you want to know more, checkout:

Juicy Lucy currently does not have a website , but you can “fan” them on  Facebook, or stop in and tell’em Stephanie sent ya!

One Last Note: I hope this project continues and the the next class or group will keep up with this also, at least until the new area developments are up and running. Peace!



Beauty and The Beast, Both Juicy Lucy and Redemption Represent New Orleans Part I:

Streetview Or Juicy Lucy, Photo By Stephanie Edwards

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.

The Original Juicy Lucy, Photo By Stephanie Edwards

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.