On life support, Tipitina’s reinvents itself again and again

Ride by the yellow corner building at Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas these days, and you see a line of people spread out on the sidewalk to order coffee at a to-go window. Yes, coffee. Since 1977, this has been the location of the iconic New Orleans’ music club, Tipitina’s. Originally intended to showcase the life’s work of Professor “Fess” Longhair, born Henry Roeland Byrd in 1918, at the end of his career, it quickly grew into one of the most beloved music venues in the city. It has survived changing ownership and changing musical climates, as well as hurricanes, over the years, even briefly closing in 1984.

Silver Lining: New Orleanians are lining up to get their furniture repaired

This is the third Silver Lining, an Uptown Messenger series on locally owned small businesses that are thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. For almost five decades, Uptown Restoration has been repairing furniture at the corner of  Zimpel and Cherokee streets in the University section of Uptown New Orleans. 

Though off the beaten path, the repair shop does a steady business. But this year, it’s been especially busy. Not long after the lockdown in March, more customers began showing up with broken furniture and pieces that needed to be restored or refinished. “With everyone staying at home, and many working from home, they had the time to attend to repairs they had been meaning to do for a long time,” said Uptown Restoration proprietor Bobby Franks. 

For a while, Franks had to rent storage space for the backlog of furniture in the queue to be worked on.

‘Reading Radio’ station on Magazine occupies a unique broadcasting niche

The WRBH 88.3 FM studios, a landmark on the corner of Magazine and Foucher streets, has a distinctive spot in the broadcasting world. It is the nation’s only full-time FM reading radio service and one of only three such stations in the world, according to its website. 

WRBH, also known as “Reading Radio,” turns the printed word into the spoken word so that vision-impaired people can receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers. 

Two other stations share that mission: Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network, a sideband service not on the FM dial, and Vision Australia Radio Network. The latter is a network of eight radio stations whose programming and structure are similar to WRBH but do not operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Australian group recently reached out to WRBH to share information, ideas and forge a relationship. The target audience for Reading Radio includes the blind and illiterate, as well as individuals who are unable to read due to illness, spinal cord injuries, eye muscle damage, learning disabilities, lack of access to print media and loss of vision due to age.

Glowing up with the Columns: Rejuvenation is a natural progression for this storied gathering place

It wouldn’t be overreaching to say the Columns is beloved by generations of New Orleanians, as well as those visiting the city. The large front porch framed by imposing Doric-style columns has been a favorite for cocktails and watching the scene unfold along St. Charles Avenue. Charming and old world, it is a place where first dates, proposals, break-ups and the accompanying drowning of sorrows, sharing of secrets, love-at-first-sight, weddings, debutante soirees and celebratory fetes happen on a daily basis. If walls could talk, the Columns’ walls could fill three volumes, easily.

Silver Lining: Urban Roots branches out as Uptowners find relief in gardening

This is the second Silver Lining, an Uptown Messenger series on locally owned small businesses that are thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other New Orleans businesses considered essential, the Urban Roots Garden Center did not have to close down during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was considered to provide essential services because they sell edibles and fruiting plants. Also, like other businesses in Uptown Messenger’s “Silver Linings” series, this one does not rely on the tourist trade or out-of-town visitors. At the beginning of the pandemic, Urban Roots offered a new service: curbside pick-up.

Viewpoint: Cedric Richmond’s path to the White House began on the UTNO picket line

Louisiana Second Congressional District Rep. Cedric Levan Richmond, who recently became the highest ranking Black staff member to join President-elect Joseph Biden’s administration, was introduced to politics at a very early age. Richmond was just 5 years old in 1978 when his mother, Maple Richmond Gaines — a dedicated New Orleans public school teacher — would wake him and his brother Sidney Jr. before dawn to accompany her to the picket line, where the United Teachers of New Orleans were striking for higher wages and better working conditions. Richmond would hold up a sign while his mother, the strike leader, made sure no cafeteria workers or other early arrivers entered the school building. “Cedric’s father, Sidney Richmond Sr., was an entrepreneur and very involved in the community,” Richmond Gaines said. “Although he died when Cedric was 7 years old, he left an impression on Cedric about the importance of community service.”

Richmond’s stepfather, Ulis Gaines, was an electrical contractor who imparted a similar message, Richmond Gaines said.

Patios, a porch and the PPP offered lifeline to Delachaise bistros

When The Delachaise first opened at 3442 St. Charles Ave. 17 years ago, it had a patch of grass out front where owner Evan Hayes hoped to build an outdoor space. Then 10 years ago, Entergy tore up that section of the avenue to install a new gas line, and Hayes used the opportunity to pave the area and create a patio. “That doubled our business,” he said.

Silver Lining: Maple Small Animal Clinic is busier than ever during the pandemic

This is the first Silver Lining, an Uptown Messenger series on locally owned small businesses that are thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maple Small Animal Clinic has a different pandemic story to tell from many of our local businesses. For one thing, it does not depend on the tourist trade. And veterinary clinics are considered an essential business, so it never had to shut down. The clinic changed its protocol to curbside drop-off and pickup, but it stayed fully staffed and did not need to limit its services.

Magazine Street welcomes new take on Thai from BRG restaurant group

 

Jimmy Cho, the chef and owner of the Cho Thai — a recent addition to Magazine Street in the Irish Channel — has operated the West Bank favorite Banana Blossom since 2009. One of the repeat customers at that Thai fusion restaurant happened to be a partner at BRG Hospitality, the rebranded John Besh group whose holdings include August, Pizza Domenica and Shaya. He liked the food at Banana Blossom so much he approached Cho joining the BRG’s restaurants. Cho signed a contract with BRG in November 2019, and the redesign of the interior space at 3218 Magazine St. was set to begin in the new year.

City plans safer bike paths in Central City and Lower Garden District

The Office of Neighborhood Engagement hosted a pre-construction meeting Thursday to inform Central City and Lower Garden District residents about bicycle infrastructure improvements coming to their neighborhoods. Construction on the project on the East Bank began in August 2020, and the Thursday meeting allowed residents to view the proposals for their area. The project will bring bike lanes and street redesigns to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from St. Charles Avenue to South Broad Street, Melpomene Street from St. Charles Avenue to Camp Street, Baronne Street from Calliope to Phillips Street, South Galvez Street from MLK to Erato Street, and South Broad Street from Fourth Street to Thalia Street.