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Where Y’Eat: After School Rush Hour Meets a Sweet Happy Hour

Ice cream and iced coffee at Gail's in LA
Photo by Ian McNulty
Ice cream and iced coffee at Gail's in Lakeview.

What gets you to the finish line on another grinding day, especially here in this cauldron of a season? Maybe it’s a coffee or something sweeter.

For me recently it was a coffee surrounded by the super-cute sweetness of a bunch of grade school kids flocking for a special after-school treat at a “happy hour” devised just for them.

Junior’s on Harrison is the modern family-friendly restaurant in Lakeview at a nexus of after-school activity.

The restaurant also has a walk-up ice cream window called Gail’s, and at back-to-school season Gail's has brought back an annual special with deals on scoops for school kids.

Scoping this out one infernal Monday, I got a coffee and watched kids wearing backpacks larger than their torsos pulling their adults toward the window, peering over the edge as their cups and cones came together. I heard the adults reconnecting over the start of another school year, with talk of which kid has which teacher, what grade the youngest is in now and such.

After-school time brings its own kind of rush to different spots around town. On Freret Street, another part of town thick with schools, midafternoon sees high school kids with the run of the restaurant row here. Freret Street is even home to a "pie happy hour" at one shop, Windowsill Pies. How cute is that?

It's been a long time since I’ve been in school, but just seeing these rituals of the season brought me back, a reminder of the rhythms of life that persist even when so much seems in flux. Every year is a new start for someone, or the last year before moving up. Something as simple as an after school ice cream cone can be a marker in time, even if it’ll only really be appreciated years down the line.

Back at Gail's on that blazing day, it was decision time. Coffee alone was not going to cut it for me. I needed ice cream and I made it a double scoop at that.

After all, being an adult means making grown up decisions like that all the time.

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