Ian McNulty rides into town this week with his yearly recap of New Orleans' dining. If you didn't notice, dearest readers, it was a freakin' insane BOOM YEAR here in the Little Difficult. New Orleans is now up to 1300+ dining establishments (excluding fast food, chains, and take-out/delivery options), from about 800 restaurants pre-Katrina, with both the Bywater and Freret Street making it big. Which begs these fretful McNultyisms? "Why are so many restaurants opening here now, when the industry has been suffering nationally? How does an area with a significantly reduced post-Katrina population support them?"
To recap this mystifying BOOM-DIDDY, Eater offers the good, the bad, and the downright ugliest quotes from McNulty's Year in Dining. From Adolfo Garcia to Michael Doyle, these quotes are best read in a Clint Eastwood voice with an empty jug of nog by your side, but may nary an empty chair be found in your favorite dining establishment this season.
"It's about making sure the food scene in New Orleans is everlasting. A lot of restaurants in town now are forward-looking." ?Philip Lopez, chef/co-owner, Root and upcoming Square Root
"You're just not seeing restaurants opening like this in other places. To have this growth, even when the city's population is still down, it's just flabbergasting." ?Stan Harris, President, Louisiana Restaurant Association.
"We're always asking ourselves what we did in a past life to deserve this success." ?Kim Nguyen, owner of uptown Vietnamese hotness, Magasin.
"New Orleans is reinventing what the city is all about. You see that everywhere, and the restaurants are no exception. We (the Besh Restaurant Group) had two restaurants before Katrina. When we started talking about more, people said, 'Are you sure you want to do this?' But we don't open restaurants for the sake of opening them. Our whole plan is: We only grow if we have talent that wants to do something new with us." ?Octavio Mantilla, The Besh Restaurant Group partner.
"Guys are always telling me now how hard it is to find chefs to hire. I say, Yeah, that's because they're all opening their own restaurants." ?Adolfo Garcia, chef/restaurateur of High Hat, Ancora, a Mano, and more.
"What scares me is people getting into the business who don't have the experience but put their entire life savings into a project. Maybe some of them think, I love to eat and I have 100 friends who will support me. Well, you need 100 friends every night, and 100 of their friends." ? Steve Pettus, managing partner of Dickie Brennan Restaurant Group.
"We had a banker come down here and turn around without even getting out of his car. He pulled up, drove off and then emailed me later saying, 'There's just no way.'" ?Mike Doyle, Chef/owner Maurepas Foods, in regards to getting his restaurant off the ground in da Bywatas.
"You could argue that there's not a lot of other entrepreneurial opportunities out there and the restaurant business has been something that people fall into by passion, not by common sense." ?Jon Smith, former local wine merchant/ real estate consultant on restaurant projects.
"The engine that helps restaurants survive is capital. You have to be able to sustain yourself in the downtime (especially in the summer when convention and events trail off). You'll see restaurants that are here one day and not tomorrow." ? Stan Harris, LRA Prez.