Craig Giesecke: Farewell

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Craig Giesecke

This marks my 78th and final column for Uptown Messenger as Kim and I pack up and move back toward the West Coast. She was raised in the San Diego area and we feel it’s time to tighten the circle, pulling family closer and seeking new opportunities. Besides, I am long overdue for a good, no-time-schedule road trip and the adventure it brings.

In a perfect world, we would have time and money for one last, great tour of New Orleans favorite haunts and to try to get around to a few spots we haven’t yet tried. But we don’t have much of either, so such an event will have to wait until we return, which will be as often as possible.

Over the nearly a decade we’ve lived here, I have operated a small specialty food production company, worked at several different restaurants and, of course, run my own. I’ve been lucky, unlucky, blessed, cursed and sometimes maligned. The positives far outweigh the negatives and the list of folks to thank is far too long to possibly remember or accurately list. But there are a few who stand out…

Polly Watts at The Avenue Pub has been a springboard, a supporter and a solid friend since we began working with her in the spring of 2009. Though an overload of business forced us to part ways, she has never stopped ringing the bell in our favor. Thank you, Polly – you’re class.

Attorney Jonathan Shushan has the distinction of being our first customer in several of our operations and has also remained a solid friend and supporter. I’ll miss our long conversations about both food and history.

The local culinary media: Ian McNulty, Todd Price, Lorin Gaudin, Kim Ranjbar, Leslie Almeida, et al. Your reviews, while happily favorable, have also been honest when we fell short of the mark. Thank you for your candor and professionalism. I can only hope the food writing is half as good in Southern California.

Rouses. This company has employed me three times in the past 18 months, giving me a paycheck when badly needed and, for the most part, giving me a little creative space. Special thanks yous to Melissa Montero and Marc Ardoin.

IberiaBank. When times got tough, they stood by and understood until we could make it right. Most folks hate their bank. I’ve loved mine.

Finally – Robert Morris and the Uptown Messenger. Thank you for the platform, the patience and the encouragement. This is journalism how I knew it in my 30+ years in the business.

I frankly have no idea what I’ll be doing once we get to Escondido. I can always work in a kitchen and I can always write, but it remains to be seen how well either of those might pay some bills. My disadvantage is I’ll be a new guy, and an aging one at that. My advantage is I survived and even prospered a little with good reviews in New Orleans – one of the great food cities on the planet. I and we are truly, truly blessed.

…and thank you for reading. The greatest thing about the readers of this page is their intelligence and critical appraisal of what’s here. It’s easy to throw stones anonymously on some website, but that has rarely been the case here.

It is difficult to leave, but we must. Again, thank you.

Craig Giesecke has been a broadcaster and journalist for over 30 years, including nearly two decades at the AP and UPI covering news, sports, politics, food and travel. He has been the owner of J’anita’s for five years, serving well-reviewed upscale bar food and other dishes. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.

12 thoughts on “Craig Giesecke: Farewell

  1. Many, many thanks to Craig for 78 terrific columns. In the opposite order of most New Orleanians, I became a fan of Craig’s writing before I had tried his food, having stumbled across his personal blog prior to my first J’Anita’s experience. In each setting, I strongly admire the wisdom, patience and creativity that characterize Craig’s perspective. His writing was often about the New Orleans restaurant industry on the surface, but it was always an expression of much deeper values.

    Some examples, listed in no particular order:
    – Honesty (with customers):

    – Open-mindedness (even with chains!):

    – The joys and hardships of entrepreneurship:

    – Appreciating simple pleasures:

    I loved when he would share with us what he was eating (usually involving kalamata olives), as well as his advice for making home kitchens more professional:

    Speaking of advice, it would be wrong to overlook his take on the ubiquitous New Orleans hurricane-supply list:

    And finally, I believe his discussion of Gulf seafood following the oil spill was one of the most direct pieces I’ve read on the subject:

    (His entire archive can be found here:

    Craig’s writing voice was an ideal way for Uptown Messenger to ease into the weekend, and I will certainly miss it. I think I can safely speak for many New Orleanians when I say he is certainly welcome back here any time any time, both on this site and in his city.

    • I have followed you around the city, and enjoyed your food at every stop along the way. New Orleans loss is clearly Escondito’s gain. I wish you well.

  2. Good luck Craig, and please let us know what you are up to. I’ve been blown away by your food at the Pub, Rendon and the Pelican and miss it very much. Thanks to your kitchen for packing the St Chuck Duck “kits” for us to take to your expatriate customer in Austin. If the Duck and the Beach Sammich turn up on a menu in San Diego, please send back a column. It would be worth the trip.

  3. Thanks Craig! I for one will definitely miss your “sammiches” (St. Duck, Best Fish etc.), Kimmie’s amazing Guac, and will be keeping track of your progress in Cali on FB, so keep posting!

  4. Craig, I have enjoyed having your insight to working/chefing/owning NO restaurants. We moved away several years ago but return almost yearly and you and your column was another important way for me to stay connected to NO, and one of the more important aspects of the city, its food and its creators. The best to you and yours in CA.

  5. Farewell my friend, keep in touch and I would love to keep reading you blog about food and cooking in Escondito….

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