Archie and Danny’s
Metairie: 3322 N. Turnbull
The restaurant at 3322 N. Turnbull in Metairie probably holds the record for housing the greatest number of restaurants that came and went over the years.
It was built in 1968 as the home of Le Charcuterie, a spinoff of from the French Quarter’s popular La Boucherie. The owners learned a surprising truth quickly: just because a lot of people with above-average incomes were moving en masse to Metairie didn’t mean that those people would go out to dinner every night. In fact, most new Metairie people moved out there for the purpose of raising families. That effort takes all the time and money the residents have, as I can confirm from personal experience.
Not only were the customers not there, but the employees needed to keep such a place running preferred to remain closer to home, and continued to work in the French Quarter. Le Charcuterie had less than great food as a result.
I only dined at Le Charcuterie once. I was just learning how to dine out in fancy restaurants, and my college-years budget couldn’t support many forays to such places. All I knew was steak, and just barely. I was a bit intimidated, frankly. The average age of the other patrons was twice my own.
But I was more impressed by the place than Richard “The Underground Gourmet” Collin was. Le Charcuterie brought from his one of his funnier lines: “Any restaurant that calls itself a Restaurant Francais and features as le supreme du chef, the special of the day ‘for the real gourmet’ Hawaiian chicken (chicken with pineapple) had better take up Italian cooking instead.”
After a few years, the owners of Le Charcuterie saw that ambitious food, ceremonious service and beautiful dining rooms were not enough to make the restaurant click. So it became the first major restaurant in New Orleans to associate itself with local football heros as an extra attraction.
Archie Manning (at left in the picture) was in the first year of his brilliant career, and the great hope of Saints fans. He and fellow Saint Danny Abramowicz (right) signed on as ostensible proprietors. The ads made it seem that the two beloved greats would be there in person at all hours to greet the customers. Of course, that was not true even during the off-season, let alone in the thick of things.
When the Saints players appeared, the name of the restaurant changed to L’Auberge. It remained a somewhat fancy, if not especially pricy French restaurant. After a few years of unspectacular results, it was decided that the place needed to lighten up its offerings. Steaks, seafood platters, and New Orleans-style eats made their way onto the menu. At that point the name changed again to Archie And Danny’s. It still refused to become a big hit. In 1974, when Danny retired from football, it ceased to be a restaurant, instead operating as an upscale home-decorating store.
The store didn’t last long either. By 1976 it was a French restaurant again–a very good one called Romanoff’s. (We have an article about that one elsewhere in our Extinct Restaurant archives.)
That went bust in 1978. It was followed by a toned-down, mediocre continental place called the Regency. Then it was the Butcher Shop, a steakhouse. Two Chinese restaurants (both with the word “king” in their names) came next. The latter of the two had the longest run yet, holding on for about ten years. Then came an Indian restaurant called the India Palace. It also was there for many years, but didn’t come back after Katrina. It was replaced by a Korean restaurant called Gimchi. Finally, it renovated and reopened as Andy’s Bistro, which it remains today.
The problem here, I think, is that the restaurant is just far enough off Veterans Boulevard for the restaurant’s gravity to pull in a critical mass of customers.
Meanwhile, we continue to learn that having a professional sports figure as the face of a restaurant is not a guaranteed winner. Go to Manning’s downtown and see if that’s not true.