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Hurricane Katrina 10-Year Anniversary: A Guide to Restaurant Coverage

From the Parkway Bakery & Tavern story to the question of gentrification and restaurants in 2015.


With the 10 year anniversary of Katrina lurking on the horizon—August 29 is the official anniversary of when the storm made landfall and the levees failed—it's time to turn our attention to how the city's restaurants and bars were affected and how drastically the hospitality industry has changed post-Katrina.

Here now, Eater NOLA rounds up all the 10 Year Katrina restaurant coverage—from retrospectives on rebuilding to predictions of where the industry is headed.

Scars that still remain, or not: Brett Anderson tries to take a 'culinary disaster tour' in search of restaurants that display storm memorabilia like flood line markers, framed photos and such, but finds that "documenting lingering evidence of Katrina's destruction on area restaurants was more difficult than I imagined it would be."  []

Is the dining scene better than ever ten years later?: While Creole seems to be increasingly overshadowed in a city of "wood-fire-oven pizzerias, craft-cocktail bars, artisan bakeries, and authentic taquerias," Brett Anderson notes that's because "the palate of residents new and old is now informed by a hankering for things beyond great étouffée,"  which is ultimately a "positive development." [TheNewYorker]

Ten years later, New Orleans' good fortune and shortcomings: "Many say New Orleans has emerged more entrepreneurial and energetic," the Wall Street Journal reports, "But as the $135 billion rebuilding winds down, federal employment data reveal a local economy increasingly skewed to low-wage jobs, especially restaurant work, one of the few sectors now employing more people than before Katrina." [WSJ]

How New Orleans stacks up against other food cities ten years later: Critic Tom Sietsiema reports that city is "strong on both traditional and modern Vietnamese restaurants, po' boy joints and high-end dining destinations," but "could use better bakeries and Chinese and Japanese restaurants." Bonus: Nifty video on the Sazerac featuring Chris Hannah, Neil Bodenheimer, Paul Gustings and more. [WashingtonPost]

Evolving cuisine and restaurant-growth ten years later: High Hat, Maurepas Foods, Namese and more spots get a mention in this article that reports "the growth is coming in more casual, mid-range restaurants, and it's fueled largely by a rebound in tourism as well as an influx of millennials seeking an affordable city with culture." [AP]

Broad Street's diverse comeback post-Katrina: With beloved restaurants including Coco Hut, Eat Well, Crescent City Steakhouse, McHardy's and more along the strip, Rien Fertel reports that "a decade after Katrina, Broad Street has not only maintained its unpretentious patchwork of small businesses, but the neighborhood's demographic diversity has gracefully superseded its pre-storm numbers." [LocalPalate]

Willie Mae's, Bacchanal, and post-Katrina gentrification: "An army of volunteers didn't allow the restaurant to die, catalyzing one of Katrina's more stunning reversals of fortune — one that climbed to a new level with the President's visit today," —Brett Anderson on Willie Mae's. Anderson also posts a Gravy podcast considering "food as a lens" for Katrina and how things have changed in New Orleans. []

Herbsaint [Photo: Brasted]

How New Orleanians reclaimed their culture post-Katrina: Here's a timeline of pivotal cultural moments after the storm, including the reopening of Abita Brewing two weeks after the storm, and Ruth's Chris announcing its move to new corporate headquarters in Orlando on September 30, 2005. []

Food Writer Todd Price's first meal back after the storm: "It was Halloween weekend. We were still not back for good, just for a few days. So we met friends at Herbsaint." []

Critic Ian McNulty on Katrina taste memories that still resonate: "Some may float on the breeze, like the smell of burgers cooking outside Port of Call, recalling that surreal first fall when finding something functional in New Orleans was cause for celebration, even a burger joint. Or it could be the aroma of onion rings drifting out the kitchen doors at Liuzza's and Mandina's, evoking the outpouring of gratitude when these vintage restaurants finally reopened during the long slog that followed." [Advocate]

Lakeview's Pizza NOLA creates a line of K10 themed gelato: Helen Freund reports that three flavors of the "Resilience Collection" include Chocolate City, "a blend of white and dark chocolate gelato interspersed with ribbons of chocolate;" Heckuva Job, Brownie, "Brownies and nuts, enough said;" and Toxic Soup, "featuring gummy critters swimming around in caramel gelato sludge." [Gambit]

Restaurants and neighborhoods that showed resilience in post-K New Orleans: "The creativity displayed by..resilient restaurants" including The Besh Group, Link Group, Ralph Brennan, as well as Willie Mae's Scotch House, chef Nathania Zimet, and the entire Mid-City neighborhood, "has contributed to a stronger, more dynamic dining scene," according to the USA Today piece in the Travel section. "[W]hile scores of post-Katrina newcomers have introduced new styles of cooking, the old standbys are stronger than ever."  [USA Today]

Banks Street Bar [Photo: Facebook]

The importance neighborhood bars played in the months after Katrina: "There was no Twitter in 2005. Facebook was still just for college kids. But the neighborhood bar provided face-to-face crowdsourcing for what was happening, what people were hearing and what was in the works," Ian McNulty writes. Spots like the Banks St. Bar were gutted and functioning with no electricrity, just ice chests and accepting cash only. [Advocate]

How Parkway made it through Katrina: Brett Anderson crafts a great read on how the restaurant's boat "Po'Boys" saved over 30 lives and how this Bayou St. John icon came back stronger after the storm. []

Restaurateurs reflect on rebuilding after the storm: Chefs Leah Chase, Donald Link, and Adolfo Garcia talk to NPR about what it was like to come back in the wake of the storm and what the restaurant scene is like now. [NPR]

Cafe Dauphine & post-Katrina New Orleans: "Café Dauphine's story feels unique—in part because no such restaurant existed in the Lower Ninth Ward before Katrina. In part because it is still a city wherein an African American family opening a white-tablecloth restaurant is newsworthy. And also because there aren't direct parallels to Café Dauphine's of-the-neighborhood, for-the-neighborhood gentrification model in other badly flooded, economically disinvested neighborhoods," writes Sarah Roahen. []

How Katrina created more diverse dining options: "In the decade since Hurricane Katrina... a shifting citywide demographic has created a multitude of new, increasingly diverse norms...from hole-in-the-wall pupuserias... to Korean, Filipino, and Nigerian," Sarah Baird writes, but most of all—more Vietnamese. [TakePart]

10 years later the restaurant scene is all about growth: Ian McNulty reports that huge amounts of growth have led to more diverse cuisines, a stronger relationship between restaurants and fishermen, reinvigorated classics, and edgier New Orleans food. [Advocate]

10 years later the restaurant boom presents a debate on gentrification: The New York Times Kim Severson asks "Have the developers and true-believer transplants brought with them a brand of gentrification that is diluting the scruffy neighborhoods and odd traditions that make New Orleans a terrific place to eat?"  Dozens of commenters then point out that there are no African American chefs pictured in the article. []

Sadly, these restaurants never came back: Beloved restaurants lost to the storm include West End icon Bruning's, Freret fried chicken spot Dunbar's, and more. Todd Price profiles three in more detail: GabrielleChristian's, and Restaurant Mandich. []

These restaurants relocated and/or expanded to Baton Rouge: "In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a handful of New Orleans restaurants came to Baton Rouge," reports Stephanie Riegel, including a shortlived Mandina's location. Today Galatoire's, the Bulldog, Velvet Cactus, ACME and more spots have Baton Rouge expansions. [BusinessReport]

10 years later, a huge tourism boom: "New Orleans had just 3.7 million visitors in 2006, the first full year after Katrina. Last year, there were 9.5 million visitors. The city has 600 more restaurants than 10 years ago," according to the AP. []

Why the post-Katrina restaurant boom may implode: A lack of qualified and trained kitchen staff and rising overhead are two reasons that the New Orleans restaurant boom in New Orleans could be in trouble, according to City Business. [CityBusiness, sub req]