Original Tujague’s neon sign will be duplicated, most likely won’t move to new location

(Photo: Collin Poellot | CC Flickr)
The Vieux Carre Commission last month issued a preliminary approval to install a duplicate of Tujague’s original neon sign at its new Decatur Street location.

At its May 19 meeting, the VCC reviewed a staff recommendation to “conceptually” designate the sign as a classic sign under the zoning ordinances if the sign is an exact match of the original located at 823 Decatur St.

The building’s owner, Kara Farms, filed the application in March after the Tujague’s moved to its new location at 429 Decatur St. and reopened last December, although the restaurant wasn’t allowed to take the original sign with him.

It’s not clear why Motwani won’t allow the restaurant to transfer the original sign, other than to say it’s “historic,” although he has indicated that he will keep it but remove the “Tujague’s” and the “Est. 1856” and use the sign for a possible new eatery, according to nola.com. A city application filed in March shows he wants to replace the original neon sign with a similarly-shaped “Cajun Bistro” sign.

Tujague’s first opened at 811 Decatur Street and later relocated to 823 Decatur St. in 1914. Established in 1856, the business holds a distinction as the “second oldest” restaurant in New Orleans (Antoine’s, located at 713 St. Louis St., holds the title as “first”).

Brothers Steven and Stanford Latter purchased the business in 1982. Steven died in February 2013 and Stanford sold the building to Motwani later that year, with Latter leasing the space back from Motwani.

Mark Latter, Steven Latter’s son and current Tujague’s owner, announced in October 2019 that the restaurant would not renew its lease with Motwani, who also owns the Willie’s Chicken Shack chain of restaurants.

The new restaurant held its last meal at the old location in the summer of 2020 and reopened at its current location shortly before the new year.

Along with sign, Tujague’s famed wooden bar did not make the transition to the 429 Decatur St. location. The bar was imported from a Parisian bistro in 1856 and was already believed to be nearly 100 years by the time by the time it was installed in its Decatur Street location.

William Reeves, a VCC commissioner, lamented over the absence of the sign at the restaurant’s new location.

“I ate at the new location and enjoyed it very much, but I was definitely uncomfortable because the old sign wasn’t outside,” Reeves said. “I wish we could get it.”

“That’s a difficult situation,” Latter said. “We would love to remove the old sign but that’s just not an option. Glad you enjoyed your dinner, though.”

Vieux Carre Commission temporarily reopens French Quarter office for in-person staff consultations

In-person consultations with Vieux Carre Commission staff members will resume for one day each week starting Thursday after an agreement was reached to temporarily reopen an office on North Peters Street.

Staff will be available for in-person meetings by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the office located in Suite 206C at 400 N. Peters St. The reopening came after a solution was reached between New Orleans city officials and The Berger Company, according to an announcement by the VCC Foundation on Feb. 26.

During office hours, members of the public will be able to meet with a staff member to ask questions, drop off applications or issue permits.

Some restrictions will apply for the services because not all employees will be available. A review of plans and the ability to discuss violations with a staff member will be available.

If someone know which staff member they want to speak to, the public is asked to email that member directly.

Coronavirus guidelines will also be in place, including mask and social distancing. Those who don’t comply may be asked to leave or denied entry.

“Keep in mind, you may not walk out with a permit, but the staff will do their best to assist you and can help with OBES permit entries and questions,” according to VCC Foundation staff.

To make an appointment, file applications or to make an appointment, email vcc@nola.gov.

For more information on the VCC, including public meeting schedules, visit nola.gov/vcc.

Graphic by Eric T. Styles. To contact the author, email dave@thequarterrat.com.

Vieux Carre Commission, French Quarter Management District to hold remote public meetings Dec. 16

(Graphic by Eric T. Styles)
Public meetings for two governmental bodies whose jurisdictions include the French Quarter are scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16.

The first meeting is by the Vieux Carre Commission and will be held via WebEx conference call starting at 1 p.m. CST.

The dial-in number is 504-658-7001 and the access is code is 992 297 424.

Meeting agenda and other materials can be found here.

The VCCs purpose is to preserve and regulate the historic character of the French Quarter and was created following an amendment to Louisiana’s constitution in 1936.

2020.12.16-Vieux-Carre-Commission-Meeting-Agenda

The second meeting will be held by the French Quarter Management District‘s Government Affairs Committee starting at 2:10 p.m. and will also be held remotely.

Those who wish to observe or to participate in the meeting can join via teleconference at meetings.ringcentral.com. The access code is 204 758 9217.

The public can also view the meeting at meetings.ringcentral.com or listen in at 469-445-0100.

An agenda for the FQMD’s Government Affairs Committee can be viewed here. Public comments should be emailed to publiccomments@fqmd.org and will be accepted from the time the agenda is released until the conclusion of its reading.

The FQMD was created by the Louisiana legislature in 2007 for the purpose of revitalizing the French Quarter following Hurricane Katrina.

20201216_Governmental-Affairs-Committee_agenda

Other remote city meetings occurring on Wednesday include the Street Renaming Advisory Committee at 3 p.m. CST. An agenda and live streaming video can be found here.

Then on Thursday, Dec. 17, the French Quarter Economic Development District and City Council will hold public meetings at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. Agendas and live streaming videos can be found here.

NEW WORLD QUARTER Part Too

Here’s an unpublished issue of New World Quarter I drew in 2015. I began to draw the second part as soon as I sent the first to print in China and never went to print because of the low sales of the first issue, which sold for $5 a piece with no ads.

I still have three unopened cases. It’s my last work and I will probably never do another.

NEW WORLD QUARTER Part 1

NEW WORLD QUARTER Part 1

I present to you New World Quarter, a graphic novel published in 2015, two years after the initial Quarter Rat publication folded. While the publication in name ceased to exist, its spirit lives on in various representations, including this one.

The content was written in 2014 and reflected the French Quarter at the time. Much of what you’ll find inside will be familiar, although the settings and circumstances may seem like a far off memory. No longer can we walk inside of a local bar and socialize with our friends, neighbors or random tourists; buy shots at 3 a.m.; or see live music at our favorite venue. Five years ago seems like a decade ago compared to how quickly the world is changing at the moment. Hell, five months ago seems like five years ago.

The French Quarter scenery, however, has remained relatively the same. It was, and still is, the inspiration for the illustrations and dialogue, although some things are missing. Many of our favorite local dives are either gone or on their way out. Johnny White’s, a French Quarter institution for 50 years, is gone. We don’t dwell on such losses, although its absence adds to the melancholy we refer to as “the blues.”

But the French Quarter is more than 300 years old. What started as a small riverfront settlement of about 100 log huts is now a thriving riverfront neighborhood of exquisite buildings containing a deep culture with origins that precede America. The neighborhood doesn’t even look the same as it did; two fires in the late 18th century destroyed the vast majority of its original buildings.

Businesses and buildings come and go, although efforts are made to preserve them. But inanimate objects don’t make the French Quarter, the people do.

The government-induced, COVID-19 pandemic-influenced severe economic downturn is closing small businesses and forcing some of its longtime workers, the characters whose presences are vital to the character of the French Quarter, to relocate elsewhere and maybe never to return. The pandemic didn’t cause this; it just accelerated it.

What’s still consistent in New World Quarter is the Vieux Carre Commission, which still exerts its authority over property owners in order to preserve the historic look of the Quarter, except now their public meetings are held remotely and its building inspectors are wearing masks.

The themes expressed in New World Quarter fall within the fringe realm of conspiracy theories. They’re zany and, in many ways, meant to poke fun at themselves. Yet the authoritarianism we come to associate with these ideas smells eerily familiar to us, given our current situation. Hopefully they stay confined only to the pages of a graphic novel. –Editor