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New Orleans‚ Restaurant Scene Rises Again

Four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated this historic city, its chefs and restaurant owners have shaken off the sucker punch and are swinging back stronger than ever.

In fact, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau said more restaurants are open now than before the fatal storm.

“Our observations are that despite our drop in population from pre-Katrina numbers, the city reports 1,031 restaurants open today,” said Mary Beth Romig, director of communications and public relations for the CVB. “This is more than ever in our city’s history, not just since August 2005.” Romig cites the educated count of restaurants by Tom Fitzmorris of the nomenu.co website.

Hurricane Katrina plowed ashore east of New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, killing 1,836 people along the Gulf Coast through the storm surge itself and ensuing weeks of flooding after levees protecting New Orleans were breached. Damages were in excess of $100 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

But like boxers shaking off standing eight counts, existing restaurateurs are expanding with additional eateries, and newcomers are entering the market.

Donald Link, chef-owner of Herbsaint, has opened the highly touted Cochon and attached Butcher. John Besh, chef-owner of Restaurant August, has opened several restaurants, including Luke in the business district, and plans in the first full week of September to open Domenica with chef-partner Alon Shaya in the 504-room Hotel Roosevelt. The hotel underwent a $145 million renovation and was re-opened in July by the Hilton Hotel Corp.’s upscale Waldorf-Astoria portfolio.

Frank and Marna Brigtsen bought and reopened the neighborhood staple Charlie’s Seafood Co. in suburban Harahan, La. Also, chef Scott Boswell, whose Stella! just received the top-rated fifth bean from the New Orleans Times-Picayune restaurant reviewer, has enjoyed steady business at his breakfast-and-sandwich restaurant, Stanley, located in the French Quarter’s historic Jackson Square.

 

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