Bar None? The Lost Bars of New Orleans

Originally published on Epicurious.com, Daily Dish

Dateline: New Orleans, Louisiana

An intensely Catholic city, New Orleans has over 1,000 churches – and just about as many bars, keeping priests in business throughout town. A good number of these saloons are of the flashy, Bourbon Street variety, though many more are simple neighborhood establishments that have aged right along with their clientele.

At one such institution located in the Gentilly section of the city – a squat, cinder-block and wood-paneled artifact opened in 1964 and christened by Hurricane Betsy – Jeannine and Perroue, sisters from Rouen, France, along with Jeannine's son Bruno, serve up beers and highballs at prices that have barely changed since the Johnson administration. At Art's Lounge and Package Liquor, a 16-ounce beer will set you back $.90 if you buy it hot, but that's $1.00 if you want it cold (the price of refrigeration being a killer). And, as always, no tank tops, loud talking, and cursing are allowed under penalty of banishment. It's a family establishment after all.

Sadly, though, most of Art's patrons are also relics of a bygone era. Once spry quaffers who watched Bruno – and his kids – grow up are now being wheeled to the bar in chairs, and longtime package counter regular, "Oaktree" Ratliffe, died last year of liver cirrhosis. With a decided lack of young blood coming through its doors, how much longer will it be before Art's has to close its doors? We hope we never have to find out.*

Jolène M. Bouchon, August 17, 2005

Art's Lounge and Package Liquor

3901 Clematis Ave., New Orleans, La, 70117, (504) 944-9233
Hours; 7am to 10pm Monday-Saturday and 7am to 6pm on Sunday

*Art's Lounge was in a major flood zone and took on over 4 feet of water during Hurricane Katrina, only eight days after this article was written. Art's has never reopened.