New Orleans still rocks.
Interesting, though, it apparently is not as busy as it was before the 2005 Hurricane.
Had a conversation with the guy who drove me back to the airport.
He said his business is about 40% of what it used to be.
“Just the weekends now are busy, you know what I’m saying,” he talked in kind of a rhythmic sing-song thing that a lot of Nawlins people seem to have going. He had worked in the French Quarter for like 40 years, so who knows how that has affected him.
I was down there on a Monday, so it was pretty dead.
But it’s a beautiful city. You can still see that, even amongst some of the ruins.
And I think its nickname, the Big Easy, is pretty well deserved.
Everybody certainly seemed pretty laid back, you know.
On Monday afternoon, it was raining and even though it was like 70 degrees and not raining that hard, you could see people just didn’t want to get wet. Being from the snow belt, I ploughed right through it. But again, I was hungry as Hades (I’ve starting using Hades in lieu of “hell” for some unknown reason, except that I think it sounds slightly better) after flying all morning and was looking for a Po’ Boy, which is what they call their version of a sub down there. The doorman recommended Johnny’s, which was about three blocks away from the hotel, but by the time I got there, it was five after three, and they were closing—at 3 p.m. So I wandered a bit more, I was on Royal Street, a block down from Bourbon I guess, which I never made it to for some reason, I just kept turning the wrong way. But I finally found a suitable with a Po’ Boy menu and ordered blackened/Cajun catfish Po’ Boy, which I munched down with a couple local brews. The whole bill was about $18, which seemed reasonable, and the waitress was friendly and laid back, and I heard her telling the recently married middle-aged couple a few tables down that she got so depressed after Katrina, she went to live in California for a few months with friends. She also said it had been a slow day for her, but didn’t seem overly upset—as it is the Big Easy. I sat there and watched the rain come down through an open archway and made some phone calls.
Back to my driver who somehow recognized me as Italian-American and recommended a try and meatball Po’ Boy with red gravy – does that mean sauce?
There seems to be some opportunity down there in Nawlins, as the city’s drawing potential still seems to be there. At least, it was compelling enough that I’d love to go back down there again with a few days to hang out and party. But business seems to be off for some reason, at least according to my driver. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before it returns, which would be where the opportunity comes in.
The guy who manages the Superdome talked at the conference I was at, and the Superdome seems to have really bounced back – I think the Saints sold out every game last year. Granted, it sounds like the Superdome was like priority one when rebuilding the city, but the rest of the city has to follow, right? Well, that is unless it runs out of funding—which the Superdome seems to have had plenty of. But, once again, maybe that’s where the opportunity lies, in the potential to invest in something down there at a reduced rate, and if enough of these types of private investments are made, they could potentially help speed up the city’s recovery and bring it back to its former vibrant self, instead of just a weekend party town. Then again, maybe it’s a city whose time and culture have past—but then again, sometimes it’s not so bad living in the past.