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Where Y’Eat: Change for Two Restaurants and What Endures

Adolfo's Restaurant on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans
Ian McNulty
Adolfo's Restaurant on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans

Andrea’s Restaurant and Adolfo’s both serve Italian food. After that, it seems there are only differences, at least on the surface. Yet there is more, and it runs deep, as recent news of profound changes at each has revealed.

Their stories are entwined in my mind now, because given all that hospitality people in this city have been through and continue to endure, sometimes going to the brink can renew the appreciation for what we have.

Andrea’s is a sprawling Metairie restaurant, the picture of suburban ease. People have come here for the Italian cuisine and also for the togetherness of big events held across its many rooms.

Adolfo’s, meanwhile, is a one-room, freehand collage of bohemian funk. It sits above the nightlife bustle of Frenchmen Street, accessed by a narrow staircase that could be its own sobriety test.

It's an intimate cloister that people discover and then never forget.

Adolfo‘s founding chef and namesake died in August at age 63. The restaurant he founded 25 years ago remains open and will continue to be operated by his family.

Meanwhile, Andrea’s chef and founder Andrea Apuzzo, now 71, sold his restaurant after 37 years. He is still at the restaurant, working with the new owner who has plans for a major revamp in the months ahead.

After the news from each, there was an outpouring of emotional response from people who count these very different restaurants as places close to their hearts.

Andrea’s and Adolfo’s, seemingly so far apart, are local, independent and family-run. Those are defining characteristics, the reasons we’re drawn to them. But it also means they are much more vulnerable than big brands.

The future of family restaurants can hinge on one health issue, one life change or simply the march of time, as the experience through the pandemic has magnified.

But with Andrea’s and Adolfo’s, the upshot is that two restaurants, which easily could have disappeared through this, will continue. And that means New Orleans people will be able to continue to make new memories and stories in them – something we like to do here almost as much as eat.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.