Mom and Pop shops drive the local economy in New Orleans. Locals are avid supporters of any home grown business over the commercial chains and tourists adore the quaintness and flavor of the local stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Why do we love them so much? They are authentic. They are unique. They are 10x better than Starbucks.
When the “great recession” hit the United States, New Orleans was still in post-Katrina recovery mode. One would think that the recession hit us hard, but with the magnitude of Mom and Pop shops and avid local supporters, the local economy here was still very much alive.
What’s even more appealing about our Mom and Pop shops than supporting our local economy? It’s the fact that you can’t always have them! They are notorious for taking unexpected family vacations and closing at the most random times. One example: Jacques-Imo’s Cafe:
Jacques-Imo’s is one of your staple New Orleans Mom and Pop restaurant. It serves real New Orleans Creole and Soul Food on quaint Oak Street in Riverbend. Naturally N’awlins style is does not take reservations, has lines out the door nightly and is much more a social venue than a quiet night dining out. In fact, many make a night of it. Dinner at Jacques-Imo’s followed by music and dancing at the Maple Leaf Bar where Rebirth Brass Band plays every Tuesday night.
This fabulous little spot on Oak Street comes with a curse I have dubbed “The Jacques-Imo’s Curse.” The food is deliciously New Orleans and the atmosphere is perfect for any NOLA-licious celebration, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I was able to eat there! This fabulous little restaurant has a way of warding off visitors while never experiencing a lull in business. Every time I try to eat at Jacques-Imo’s the place is either closed or I happen upon some unfortunate circumstance that keeps me from making my way to the venue.
Example 1: For my birthday last month I drummed up the idea of having a NOLA-licious themed birthday. The plan was to eat at Jacques-Imo’s and end the night at the Maple Leaf listening to Rebirth, drinking Abita Ambers. My plans were foiled when we found that instead of closing Saturday, Sunday, Monday for Memorial Day weekend, Jacques-Imo’s was closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday instead. No more birthday dinner at Jacques-Imo’s.
Example 2: A friend whom I met traveling abroad was planning on visiting New Orleans and wanted to take me to dinner. She has a fabulous appetite for culture and loves nothing more than to soak in the most authentic food, drink and atmosphere. Naturally I suggest we eat at Jacques-Imo’s for the full New Orleans treatment, yet when we get there the place is closed…for a month! The family decided to take a nice long family vacation in the middle of the hot New Orleans summer.
Example 3: A year or so ago I was planning on meeting some friends at Jacques-Imo’s for dinner and drinks. Not thinking anything of it, we hop in the car to head to dinner. On the way, the New Orleans streets take their vengeance on our car and we get a flat tire. Once again, we had failed to make it to Jacques-Imo’s for our dinner.
Starting to get the picture? The Jacques-Imo’s Curse is strong, yet I still find myself recommending it to out of town visitors, new additions to the city, and occasionally to my friends when we are trying to find a place to dine. I am determined to eat there again…the food is just so damn good!
Do you have a Jacques-Imo’s curse story? Please share! I have to know that I am not the only one that this happens to!