This Week on The Street November 26, 2012
(A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations.)
By Harold V. Shumacher
New Orleans, Seven Years Later
Time can be measured easily in New Orleans there’s before Hurricane Katrina and afterwards. No single event has impacted the Crescent City more significantly in the past century. Depending on your perspective, the storm was either the city s greatest tragedy or the best economic redevelopment opportunity in recent history. Like so many things in life the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.
Even seven years later there’s evidence of the storm, especially in hard hit areas like the Upper and Lower Ninth Wards, St. Bernard Parish, the Bywater and even in the French Quarter and the Garden District, two areas unscathed by the storm but benefitting from new construction.
Thanks to a huge infusion of federal dollars, foundation grants and individual generosity New Orleans is experiencing a building boom. There’s a two billion dollar medical complex underway, a third street car line under construction, repair and renovation of the existing lines, new downtown residential development and a thriving arts district all occurring in the past few years. The changing population and opportunity to redevelop in this land locked city has been a boon. There is major new retail construction for the first time in 80 years. Whole Foods and Fresh Market have staked their claims, the latter in a former funeral home near Tulane University.
Restaurants and new boutique hotels abound, with almost twice as many restaurants open now as pre-Katrina. The French Quarter is as lively (and bawdy) as ever as tourists, stoked up on brightly colored alcoholic drinks served in oddly shaped glasses, swarm through the crowded historic streets (still home to 20,000 plus permanent residents.)
It would be easy to conclude that New Orleans is “back” unless you get out of the tourist areas and tour the lower Ninth Ward as we did. Then the reality of the storm becomes apparent. Block after block of abandoned and demolished residences. The ubiquitous Katrina Cross (showing the date a building was inspected, by whom and what, if anything was found.) Hundreds if not thousands of long time residents, many of whom were in the service industries, have left and never returned.
It’s not uncommon to see overgrown lots that look as if no one has ever lived there. There are a few bright spots, homes being renovated by organization like Lower Ninth. org and Brad Pitt’s ambitious project to create new housing ( unfortunately resembling a cluster of life size, first year architect student’s wildest dreams, sitting in an open field with little else surrounding them.)
As long time residents re-settle in new environs the composition of New Orleans is rapidly changing as highly educated, technologically proficient young people are flocking to the city replacing older, less educated residents. This “brain gain”, claim city boosters, has made New Orleans the second fastest growing city for young tech savvy entrepreneurs in the country. A generous state sponsored tax and credit programs has led to New Orleans (and Louisiana) becoming one of the top five film and t.v. production centers in the country and the city remains a destination for artists, musicians and performers of all types.
For a first time visitor (or even people who’ve been there previously) New Orleans can be confusing. Forget about directions in this oddly shaped city. Many major streets abruptly change names, at some points the sun rises when you’re facing west and there’s little logic to the street grid other than knowing most streets eventually cross Canal.
Long- time residents make reference to a place being on the uptown or downtown side of the lake or river. Natives will use a local landmark and proceed to give you a five minute family history including salacious details that often include gay, mixed race or certifiably crazy relatives (or all the above.)
Food and restaurants are a frequent topic of conversations. New restaurants abound but classics that we tried including The Acme Oyster House, Pascal Manale’s and the Brennan family’s Red Fish continue to rock on. Two newer restaurants (at least by New Orleans standards) worth a visit are Atchafalaya and Le Lillet ( on and very near Magazine Street.) In fact, it’s hard to get a bad meal here (though we assume like anywhere it can be done.)
This may be the Chinese year of the Dragon but in Atlanta it looks like the year of the Chicken. Three new restaurants featuring the ubiquitous bird have opened in the past few months including Seven Hens (Emory/North Decatur area); Gio’s chicken Amalfitano, from the founders of Antico Pizza (Midtown West) and Shaun Doty’s Bantum and Biddy at Ansley Mall.
And finally, a tip of the hat to recent winners from the Georgia Restaurant Association’s annual Grace Awards. Among the honorees were Herman Russell, Lifetime Achievement Award; Chef Linton Hopkins Innovator Award; Chef Jay Swift Restaurateur of the Year and Proof of the Pudding honcho Guy Thomson Distinguished Service Award.
Recent Transactions for The Shumacher Group, Inc. include….
Sale of Little Five Points Pizza
Sale of Garlic Thai Sushi formerly Little Azio (Decatur)
Sale of American Road House. Virginia Highland
Sale of American Classic Tavern, Lawrenceville
Lease in Decatur to Seven Hens
Sale of College Grille, Duluth
Sale of The Vinings Fish Company to Another Broken Egg
Sale of Tooey’s Lawrenceville
Lease of Saltyard at the Brookwood –Peachtree Road