It's Mardi Gras, which means the national news outlet shame game has freshly turned its attention to New Orleans' flash mob of crawfish-smelling booby-exposing drunkards and their elders, the "Oysters Rockefeller set." Reputable news source The Daily Beast reports that New Orleans' well-to-do are handing out "hundred spots" to homeless people, who are now competing with each other (and with college students) to hold places in line for a coveted spot at Galatoire's legendary Friday lunch, which is not exactly breaking news.
This is definitely not the first time the topic of homeless (or college) placeholders has come up in relation to Galatoire's Friday lunch, especially during the insanely-packed Mardi Gras season. Local critics including Ian McNulty have reported on the subject over the years. A Tiger Droppings forum once mentioned somebody who actually organized the homeless people to wait in line, and even tourists on Chowhound have brought up the subject before heading to New Orleans. For what it's worth, waiting in line is a commandment of New Orleans culture, and hiring a "day laborer" is not the standard for most patrons of Galatoire's... right, guys? Erm, like, right, guys? Biaggio DiGiavanni, the exec. director of Osanam Inn homeless shelter ("five minutes away from Galatoire's"), tells the Daily Beast otherwise:
It's competitive and the homeless people are aware of this line and they think if they can make a couple quick bucks they will hang around Galatoire's. Now more people are trying to get those spots.
But naturally this wouldn't be a truly New Orleans experience without this same homeless shelter director turning right around and approving the situation:
"Here's a homeless person and a chance to pick up a whole bunch of money just for standing around... It gives them something to do."
The Daily Beast also seems rather in disbelief that Galatoire's holds an annual table auction for a coveted spot on the Friday before Mardi Gras, which has raised MILLIONS for local charities including homeless shelters, but is simply chalked up to "shocking sums people were willing to pay to play" at this 100+ year old New Orleans institution. This is the second time of late that Galatoire's has been raked over the coals, with New York Times critic Pete Wells calling the restaurant, along with a few other French Quarter grande dames, the "Jurassic Park of Creole Cuisine" just two weeks ago. Main lesson here: Start waiting in line now to get a spot for next Friday, and do dress as a velociraptor. And also, support your local homeless shelters.
Lagniappe: Five Best Lines About Galatoire's From The Article
- "That Galatoire's line, with its high society crowds, now snakes past its new (clothing-optional) neighbor in Larry Flynt's Hustler Club strip joint just a few doors down."
- "A downstairs table during Friday lunchtime is as elusive as lassoing a unicorn."
- "I know some people who have stood out there for 18 hours before—it's crazy...Is it a Rolling Stones concert? No, it's for a table at Galatoire's."
- "Fact is, any schmuck can make a reservation and sit upstairs."
- "I'm an anthropologist and culturally it's amazing... It's old Southern aristocracy that you don't think exists anymore."
Eater has reached out to Galatoire's, and is awaiting comment at this time.