Editor’s note: This report was updated Aug. 25 with a new times for the parade and pre-parade ceremony. The toast is now scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the parade will start at 7:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than originally announced.
The hottest parade of the year, Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, will light up Oak Street and Carrollton Avenue on Saturday (Aug. 27). The Krewe of Outrageous and Kinky (OAK) is reviving the parade and sweat-soaked bacchanal after a two-year hiatus, with a few changes.
Juan’s Flying Burrito, the Mexican restaurant known for its massive burritos and “fly dranks,” is opening a new location at 8140 Oak St in August. The spot is the former home of Live Oak Café, which closed in May due to the pandemic and Hurricane Ida struggles. Since 1997, Juan’s Flying Burrito has been a favorite casual spot known for its burritos, nachos, quesadillas, tacos and other Mexican-inspired fare served in a neighborhood-friendly atmosphere.
The “Creole taqueria” currently boasts three locations in New Orleans: in the Lower Garden District at 2018 Magazine St., the Central Business District at 515 Baronne St., and Mid-City at 4724 S. Carrollton Ave. Another location, further Uptown at 5538 Magazine St., closed in May after five years, citing rent increases and lease changes.
Co-owners Jay Morris and Warren Chapoton also recently opened a location in Pensacola. According to Morris, the space on Oak Street is currently undergoing a renovation that will make its style more aligned with Juan’s atmosphere.
The Live Oak Cafe — the epitome of Oak Street’s laid-back, creative vibe — is closing its doors Sunday (May 8) after its Mother’s Day brunch. Announcing the closure on the cafe’s Facebook page, chef and owner Clare Leavy said that the uptick in business during Carnival season was not enough to overcome the losses experienced during the pandemic. “Simply put, we are out of time and options,” Leavy stated. The cafe is known for its fresh, down-home renditions of classic brunch fare with dishes such as Sweet Potato Benedict and its beloved Shrimp & Grits. And every meal at Live Oak has been served with a side of live music.
Magasin Vietnamese Café recently closed its Magazine Street location, but the Magasin egg rolls, pho, vermicelli and other menu favorites can now be found on Oak Street.
The owners of Magasin, formerly at 4201 Magazine St., and Mukbang Seafood at 8312 Oak St. have merged the two restaurants. The Oak Street restaurant’s menu will pull double duty and offer Mukbang’s buttery boiled seafood and Magasin’s Vietnamese favorites. “The building was sold, and our lease ended last year,” said Mukbang and Magasin owner Kim Nguyen. “We figured the merging of the two businesses would be a great new beginning since the building on Oak is a 3,000 square foot space.
Kim Nguyen is no stranger to restaurants. This third-generation restaurateur grew up in the business in both New Orleans and Texas. Her grandmother owned a restaurant in California, her mother ran Chinese-American restaurants in New Orleans East, and her father owns Lee’s Seafood & Grill in Kenner. Nguyen is the force behind Magasin Vietnamese Café, which has been serving generous bowls of pho and crispy banh mi at 4201 Magazine St. since 2012.
The building at 8201 Oak St — previously home to restaurant DTB and, most recently, Jazzy Pete’s — will soon be Mexican restaurant Mucho Más, from chef Julio Machado. Chef Machado, who owns Tacos Del Cartel on David Drive in Metairie, promises an expansion of the menu that Tacos Del Cartel fans have grown to love. He will be running the restaurant with Danny Cruz and Daniel Borst. “I want to show more of Mexico,” Machado said in a press release. “People have asked for this, and we want to give it to them — more dishes from Mexico, more options.”
The menu at Mucho Más will include Carne Asada, Tasajo, Snapper a la Talla inspired by Chef Gabriela Camara, shrimp cocktail, and a classic Tuna Tostada.
In August 2020, three years after its lauded debut, restaurant DTB, short for Down the Bayou, closed its doors on Oak Street. In November, seafood restaurant Jazzy Pete’s found its Uptown home at the former DTB location. The highly regarded “coastal Cajun” restaurant DTB, founded by chef Carl Schaubhut and Jacob Naquin, closed a year after Schaubhut’s death due to cancer. Although an official reason for DTB’s closure was never given, the restaurant, like most others, suffered business loss and uncertainty during the pandemic.
Oak Street is the second location of Jazzy Pete’s, owned by Peter Nguyen. The first has been a popular dining spot in Slidell for 16 years.
Named in honor of the executive chef’s grandmother and inspired by a trip down the East Coast, Seafood Sally’s recently opened on Oak Street.
CEO Caitlin Carney and her executive chef and partner Marcus Jacobs gained a reputation as innovative restaurateurs with Marjie’s Grill on South Broad in Mid-City. The duo had been wanting to open a second place that showcased their love of seafood but that was conceptually different from Marjie’s (named in memory of Carney’s mother). When they saw that the former location of La Casita at 8400 Oak St. was for rent in the fall of 2020, they sprang into action. They signed a lease and went about renovating the space to their taste and needs.
Haase’s Shoe Store and Young Folks Shop on Oak Street is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Four generations of the Haase family have been a part of its business over the past century. To what do they owe their longevity? Co-owner Kevin Caliva, whose mother was born a Haase, said it’s the level of care, service and relationships with customers that sets them apart from other places selling shoes. “Obviously, we carry some of the same brands that other stores selling shoes also stock, but we offer a unique shopping experience,” Caliva said.
Kevin Greenaae’s love of beer and brewing is obvious. When I met him at his new brewery, Oak St Brewery, 8201 Oak St., he regaled me with the story about how he found himself in New Orleans brewing beer in the middle of a pandemic. Greenaae hails from the Midwest and spent the past 28 years working in the maritime industry. He and his wife, Dana Fos, were living and working in Seattle when Fos, a New Orleans native, told Greenaae she was ready to move back home to New Orleans. Greenaae, who has been brewing beer for 30 years, thought that now was as good a time as any to retire and focus on his passion for brewing.
“I was 50 years old and I retired,” Greenaae said.