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TEDDY’S GRILL
Gentilly: 5235 Franklin Ave.
Late 1950s-2005

The last time I saw Vincent and Janine Bologna–who owned Teddy’s Grill for twenty-five years–we were all headed to the Convention Center for the annual Restaurant Expo. As we walked they told me that they had decided not to reopen Teddy’s Grill, and instead would put all their energies into their catering business.

The year was 2006. Teddy’s was a mess, thanks to not one but three levee breaks–more than enough to send the Katrina flood waters to a ruinous level. As I write this in 2014, that whole section of town–while continually rebuilding–still shows many scars of its having been a no-man’s-land for a long time.

But Teddy’s endeared itself for enough people for such a long time that I’m still often asked about its future. (Someone just called about it on the radio last week, triggering this article.)

Teddy’s drew its clientele primarily from the Gentilly area, which was a prosperous suburb before Metairie really got started. Later, a lot of customers came from the nearby University of New Orleans.

That’s my Teddy’s story. I lived on and off campus for three years, and whenever the idea of going out to eat was floated among my compatriots, Teddy’s was high on the list of possibilities.

Because at Teddy’s we found, among many other things, a seriously good roast beef poor boy. Teddy’s was one of the few specialists in that essential sandwich that made big claims for the quality of its beef. It had been a grocery store and butcher shop in its early days, and itsroast beef sandwiches reflected that institutional expertise.

Teddy Gabb was the original owner. As supermarkets took away a lot of customers from little grocery shops like his, he found his sandwich business more than keeping up with the loss–a familiar story around town. He ran it for about a decade, then sold the place to Vincent Bologna in 1961. It was a hands-on family operation, with Vincent in the kitchen and Janine at the cash register. Later, their three children came in to help

The Bologna-era Teddy’s was a beneficiary of the rapid growth of LSUNO (as UNO was called then). Particularly in the 1970s, his place sometimes looked like a college hangout. UNO being the commuter school it was, an unusually large number of students had a full appreciation of the poor boy sandwich.

Vincent expanded the shop little by little, adding basic neighborhood-restaurant platters to the menu. These ranged from red beans and spaghetti and meatballs to fried chicken and seafood. The place never became atmospheric–I remember the seating as being mostly at picnic tables–but it was a nicer-looking place in the 1990s than it was in the 1970s and before.

Somewhere along the way Teddy’s began serving–then became famous for–its whole-loaf poor boys. Enough for six people or more, they were an instant party. The most famous customers for the whole-loaf jobs was jazz clarinet virtuoso Pete Fountain, who came in weekly when he was in town for two or three of the loaves.

There was enough business by those days for Teddy’s to get some nearby competition. The Po-Boy Bakery–which evolved after Katrina into Koz’s in Harahan and Lakeview–also got into the whole-loaf thing, making those sandwiches a micro-regional item of food culture. To this day, memories of the two competitors are confused in the minds of many. Easy way to keep them straight: Only Teddy’s had a big bull mounted above its entrance.

6 Readers Commented

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  1. JOHNNY DOLLAR on October 15, 2014

    TOM — I grew up there just about 10 blocks away. Not to debate the point, but we always got our whole loafs from THE BAKERY, whereas TEDDY’S was more of a sit down place to eat. On another note, THE BAKERY started at Filmore and Franklin across from GEM’S SUPERMARKET. Go figure two markets within a block of each other and Avialasiti’s down by Robt. E. Lee and Franklin. When Teddy’s Grocery and Butcher shop closed, the Bakery moved there where it was till Katrina. Now where the BAKERY was Vasquez’ Restaurant opened up, CUBAN food which was an offshoot from VASQUEZ SUPERMARKET which was located at Robt. E. Lee and Franklin. It took over Avialasiti’s location in the early 70’s. Now to close this and I may be wrong VASQUEZ SUPERMARKET was one of the first places in NO to serve a CUBAN sandwich which they did from their meat counter around 77 or 78.

    Don’t know how this works but wish I could share an article like this to FACEBOOK or other social media. Could be a benefit to you on expanding your media presence by having that link.

  2. JOHNNY DOLLAR on October 15, 2014

    GREAT ARTICLE but if I may add some history. Born ten blocks from Teddy’s 1960. Remember Vincent when he had a big head of hair. Knew Mr. Teddy as a tike. Remember Koz as a sandwich maker not owner. The original BAKERY was at Franklin an Filmore across from the GEM SUPERMARKET. It moved to the location at the time of Katrina once Mr. Teddy closed his grocery store / butcher shop in the late 60’s. There were three bulls on the roof at one time. There was also another grocery store at the corner of Robt. E. Lee and Franklin named AIAVOLASITI’s, three groceries in a 10 block area. AIAVOLASITI’s became VASQUEZ’s grocery in the 70’s which off shooted to VASQUEZ’S restaurant where the original BAKERY was. I got my first Cuban sandwich from the grocery about 1977 as something they wanted this gringo to sample and I was sold. Now never got a whole loaf from TEDDY’S GRILL but always from the BAKERY. Loved how TEDDY’S was somewhat an open kitchen. And GEM’S Supermarket had some of the BEST boiled crawfish around.

    on another note as news sites let you share their articles to FACEBOOK and such, wouldn’t that option for your articles expand your content/site to more people.

    thanks
    JOHNNY

  3. david landrieu on October 18, 2014

    I grew up on Venus and Lumbard st and Teddy Gabb was was my uncle and my dad’s sometimes business partner, but not blood related. It was a great neighborhood to grow up in. I played football at Brother Martin and me and several teammates used to go to The Bakery 3 to 4 times a week to see Koz and Mr. Jerry, and dine on the fantastic roast beef, but we also loved Teddy’s Grill. Koz is a great guy and we loved messing with him. I don’t think there are many people on the planet who have made as many poboys as Gary aka ” Koz” Grunick did- he is a legend! Glad to see you are doing well Koz- David Landrieu

  4. Ronda Gabb on January 26, 2015

    I am coming to this article way too late, but what the heck. First of all, hello David Landrieu, my mom and I were talking about you and Uncle Joe not long ago!

    Teddy Gabb JR. was my dad. Vincent worked for dad and if I recall was maybe 19 when he bought Teddy’s from dad, somewhere in the late 60’s. There was even “little Teddy” who worked for dad and Vincent, yet no relation but everyone thought so. The reason the beef was so good was that my grandfather, Teddy Gabb (Sr.), owned Teddy’s Meat Market ( which was the grocery where The Bakery eventually moved), and dad got the best deals on meat! My grandfather’s sister, Rita, had “Rita’s Flowers” right in between the two stores. I know Koz and can’t remember if he ever worked for my grandad but too I think so. My grandparents lived on top of the Meat Market until my grandfather died in 1983, then Koz and his family lived there until Katrina.

    I visited Vincent not long before Katrina with my cousin Peter Gabb and still loved Vincent’s shrimp creole! One of my dad’s best friends was David’s dad and also Roger Sigsworth from Roger’s Gulf Station just down the road. We lived on the corner of Mirabeau and Franklin at 4775 Franklin in a great house that I recently saw in a coffee table book while staying at the Wyndam called “homes of New Orleans of the 1920’s-1930’s”. What a surprise to see your childhood home while sipping on a Bloody Mary in their lobby!

    Gentilly was such a GREAT place to grow up. I went to another extinction for grammar school, Clifton L. Ganus…ain’t dere no more! And Royal Castle, and the Barrell, and Luigis, and Taco Tico, and the Pitt, and on and on…. So many awesome memories.

    Tom, thanks for the great trip down memory lane…
    Ronda Gabb

    TOM SEZ: From the New Orleans Incest Department (theory: only 500 people live in New Orleans), Peter Gabb and I were in the UNO Drama department at the same time.

  5. Bob Hughes on September 1, 2015

    I had the privilege of staying with the Bologna’s a few times and getting to sample many of Teddy’s great offerings. I think of the grill often when I look back on my New Orleans visits. I was very lucky to experience the food and hospitality of the Bologna family.

  6. Chef Shawn on September 11, 2015

    My uncle Al Cahill took me to Teddy’s after baseball games at Milney….he lived on Mithra street by the little park….great Roast Beef and great times.

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