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Mandina's (New Orleans)


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I read on that 'hound' site that the original Mandina's is now open. Any info on this? I thought they opened one in Baton Rouge but this post made it seem like NOLa.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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  • 6 months later...

Brett Anderson has written a five-part series on Mandina's struggle to come back. The Mid-City restaurant reopened last February.

Here is a little taste of part one:

Evidence of the rise and fall of Mid-City floodwaters was etched onto the walls of the Mandina family's 75-year-old restaurant, now striped by several brown-yellow flood lines, the highest measuring 5 to 6 feet off the ground. The bar along which generations of regulars rested many an old-fashioned had been lifted from its foundation and set down at a slight angle, like a boat washed ashore.

Chairs were stacked atop tables anchored by heavy metal bases. Because the restaurant's foundation sits slightly above street level, the water stopped just below the tops of the tables, some of which still were set with glass sugar dispensers and bottles of Crystal and Tabasco hot sauce, just as Cindy had left them on Aug. 27, 2005, a Saturday, the final evening of service at the old Mandina's. The flood's most striking visual impression was left on the tabletops themselves, a few of which had warped dramatically, their sharp corners curling downward in perfect symmetry.

"Oh, look at my menus," Cindy moaned, fingering an unblemished paper insert detailing Mandina's regular Sunday specials: shrimp Creole, fried chicken, trout amandine, Italian sausage with spaghetti and vegetables. "All ready for the next day."

This many words about building repair might overwhelm people outside New Orleans, but around here we'll happily read a 22-part series on the rebuilding of a single home (seriously, the paper is still writing such a series and I'm still happily reading it).

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. The final installment runs tomorrow.

One thing that struck me is that the 35 year-old Cindy Mandina really sees the restaurant as a cultural touchstone. Her father, it seems, doesn't have the same emotional attachment to the location. Initially, he wants to tear down the building and mocks local preservationists:

A tear-down appeared to be a forgone conclusion -- two contractors at the meeting were demolition experts -- until Montgomery mentioned that preservationists could cause problems. Tommy, a thorny personality even when he's in good humor, answered, "What are they going to do? Put me in jail? There is no jail!"

I think this is interesting for two reasons. First, I really think too many food journalists are quick to mythologize restaurants and overlook the extent that a restaurant is a business. It needs to make money and the restaurants that have survived long enough to become institutions are probably run by folks with an unsentimental economic sense.

Second, it seems like Cindy's emotional attachment is what helped Mandina's survive as an institution. It's hard to imagine that many people would be so excited to walk into Mandina's if it were an entirely new structure. On the other hand, that kind of emotional attachment often kills family businesses. I was talking to the owner of a long-running food establishment recently. She noted that many family businesses fail in the third generation, because that generation has a lot of nostalgic and emotional ideas about the business that often conflict with the nostalgic and emotional ideas of the other heirs.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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First, I really think too many food journalists are quick to mythologize restaurants and overlook the extent that a restaurant is a business. It needs to make money and the restaurants that have survived long enough to become institutions are probably run by folks with an unsentimental economic sense.

This is exactly what I was thinking while reading the thread about Ye Olde College Inn closing. (I mean honestly, it was a dump, whether you liked it or not.)

But then, we are talking about food here, and as we all know, food is about much more than a bottom line -- to both customers and chefs or proprietors.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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I think this is interesting for two reasons. First, I really think too many food journalists are quick to mythologize restaurants and overlook the extent that a restaurant is a business. It needs to make money and the restaurants that have survived long enough to become institutions are probably run by folks with an unsentimental economic sense.

Second, it seems like Cindy's emotional attachment is what helped Mandina's survive as an institution. It's hard to imagine that many people would be so excited to walk into Mandina's if it were an entirely new structure. On the other hand, that kind of emotional attachment often kills family businesses. I was talking to the owner of a long-running food establishment recently. She noted that many family businesses fail in the third generation, because that generation has a lot of nostalgic and emotional ideas about the business that often conflict with the nostalgic and emotional ideas of the other heirs.

Hmmmm...there is a certain sentimentality/nostalgia that is an important part of the economic equation for some restaurants, like Mandina's. If a place like that suddenly became automated when we go there for the personal, family feel, patrons would stop going and then there would be no economics to be unsentimental about. That's a terrible sentence, but do you see what I mean?

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Hmmmm...there is a certain sentimentality/nostalgia that is an important part of the economic equation for some restaurants, like Mandina's.  If a place like that suddenly became automated when we go there for the personal, family feel, patrons would stop going and then there would be no economics to be unsentimental about.    That's a terrible sentence, but do you see what I mean?

Oh I agree that the sentimental factor is a huge part of Mandina's appeal. (My initial post was not as clear as it could be.)

I was just surprised that initially Tommy Mandina didn't seem aware of this and wanted to knocked down the building and start from scratch.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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