French Quarter Cheers the Return of Iconic Restaurant

Chicago Tribune

Scaffolding still surrounds a huge hole in the southeast wall, the staff is a shadow of its former size, only two of 15 sprawling dining rooms are functioning and half the specialty dishes have been lopped off the menu.

But Antoine’s Restaurant reopened its heavy wooden doors Thursday night, four months after Hurricane Katrina closed the historic French Quarter icon and forced New Orleans to its knees.

And in this ruined city famished for good news, the return of Pompano Pontchartrain and Baked Alaska was cause for some relief, and even elation.

“Thank God we are back,” said James Liuzza, a 20-year Antoine’s employee and the restaurant’s new maitre d’, whose predecessor died in Katrina’s floodwaters.

By opening its doors Thursday night, Antoine’s beat out such fabled five-star competitors as Brennan’s, Galatoire’s and Commander’s Palace, all of which remain among the 80% of New Orleans restaurants still closed.