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Tuesday, December 26, 2006 

No more ANTOINE'S?

Oh, NOOOOOOOO....say it ain't so, cher!

In its 166 years, Antoine's Restaurant has survived the Civil War, Reconstruction, Prohibition, the Great Depression, two world wars and countless other vicissitudes.

But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' oldest restaurant is coping with challenges that threaten its continued existence.

Rick Blount, whose family has run the fabled local institution since 1840, told the Vieux Carre Commission last week that Antoine's is facing "the first major financial threat to the restaurant in two generations."

With 850 seats, a restaurant the size of Antoine's should be serving more than 2,000 meals a night, said Blount, its chief executive officer since early 2005.

Instead, he said, it has been averaging 156 meals a day on the five days a week it is open, down 60 percent from before Katrina. And the times were "very, very hard" even before the hurricane, he said, ever since Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks dealt a body blow to tourism. Nola.com

Metroblogging New Orleans has a post, explaining some of the locals "Catch-22" scenarios.
The problem is we've passed the point of overload. There simply aren't enough of us living here anymore to keep so many of the local icons up and running. The current population of Orleans Parish remains roughly half of what it was before the flood -- and that means only so many people with only so much money buying only so many meals or making only so many other purchases in so many days. If we want a nice night out in the French Quarter and we go to Antoine's -- it means we're not going to Galatoire's. Or Tujague's. Or Muriel's. Next time we go out, we'll hit one of the other places -- but will all those other places still be around six months later when we can afford to go? Maybe. But the "maybe not" is now looming much larger than before.
Catch the Chicago Tribune's series on "
Reviving Antoine's".

A little help, if you can't go down and order up some of their Oysters Rockefeller (it was "invented" at Antoine's, ya know!) is to buy their cookbook on their website.

Take a quick tour of Antoine's on YouTube.

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