It’s been a very busy year for new restaurant openings, but along the way another interesting trend developed. Across town, some very old, beloved restaurants saw dramatic changes and transformations. Here’s the rundown on four examples of note:
Frankie & Johnny’s
321 Arabella St., New Orleans
In business since the 1940s, this Uptown favorite was known for its boiled seafood, generous daily specials and down-home atmosphere. It closed suddenly early in 2013, but right around Thanksgiving new management reopened the place. In the interim, it had been given a thorough redo, from the kitchen to the dining rooms. The restaurant retains the same feel, put has enjoyed a much needed overhaul. There’s also now an oyster bar, a small covered patio out front and a view into the boiling room.
Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak
215 Bourbon St., New Orleans
Galatoire’s is one of those New Orleans institutions famous for hardly ever changing anything. But this year saw a radical change as the restaurant expanded next door, taking over the adjacent building to add more private dining rooms and a new lounge and steakhouse. The lounge functions as a much larger, more comfortable bar for the original restaurant, while the steakhouse menu adds a different interpretation of Creole flavor…and of course plenty of beef.
819 Conti St., New Orleans
This stately, one-time mansion has been a restaurant since the 1920s, though Broussard’s has seen its share of changes through all those years. The latest round came this year when a local restaurant company bought the place from long-time owners Evelyn and Gunter Preuss and began a major revamp. Broussard’s reopened this fall with renewed grandeur across its dining rooms and courtyard patio and a new approach in the kitchen. Chef Guy Reinbolt works in a modern Continental style that is elegant, exciting and well worth exploring on a big night out.
823 Decatur St., New Orleans
Last winter, New Orleans was forced to consider the possibility that it’s second oldest restaurant would become another lost restaurant. Tujague’s, the quirky old French Quarter institution dating to 1856, was on the block following the passing of its long-time owner, Steven Latter. But his son Mark Latter was able to work out a new deal for Tujague’s, and after some cosmetic changes over the summer, he reopened the historic restaurant with a bold new vision. The traditional, five-course table d’hote menu is still available, but now the kitchen also works in more contemporary dishes (like gnocchi and roasted and grilled seafood) and steakhouse chops. Service has expanded with new weekend brunch hours. But all the while the character of the place remains intact, and appears to be headed for a more stable future.