Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hustling in New Orleans

Tammie the Housekeeper's coat-of-arms

Regular subscribers to our blog have written to ask why I haven't written updates this past week.  I appreciate your concern, regular readers, but I'm not at liberty to say. What I can say is that even though July is the start of our slow season in New Orleans, Frau Schmitt and I have been hustling and I don't mean just like this:

You might think this next bit is apropos of nothing, but there's a reason I'm going to write it:

It's not what you do, it's how you do it.  Be anything you want to be.  It's not what you've got, it's how you use it.  You be you and I'll be me.  It's a matter of style.  

If you think that last paragraph doesn't sound like your humble narrator, you have a good eye and you're right.  I plagiarized it from Ray Stevens.  Of course, now that I've given him the credit, it isn't plagiarism, is it?

The contents of that paragraph are anodyne enough but it isn't the sentiment that attracts me to them.  There's a reason these words have been running through my head recently and it has nothing to do with the brunch we had recently at La Crêpe Nanou.
La Crêpe Nanou
La Crêpe Nanou is a French restaurant on Robert Street, within spitting distance of Robert Street's intersection with Prytania Street.  It's a nice part of Uptown.  We don't normally send guests there because it's a bit out of their way and the restaurant doesn't take reservations.  It's first come-first served.  Some people like the guarantee of a reservation if they are going to go out their way to a neighborhood they haven't read about in the guide books.  We can't blame them, so, while we'll discuss La Crêpe Nanou, we rarely recommend it except to the most adventurous.  Even if you can't get a table, or there's an hour wait, there are plenty of other good restaurants nearby, but, again, those places aren't in the guide books.  It's an adventure that's worth it.

The inside of La Crêpe Nanou is as quirkily appealing as the outside and the food is outstanding.
Exterior of La Crêpe Nanou
There's a replica of the Eiffel Tower over their front door.  I always think that's a nice touch.  I wouldn't mind a replica of the Eiffel Tower to put in our lobby.
Over the entrance to La Crêpe Nanou
Even though July is supposed to be the start of our slow season, and it is slower than the previous six months have been, there has still been a steady stream of guests at the inn.  In fact, they have been as numerous and as varied as the cast of Cannonball Run 2.  How numerous and various?  Check out this clip at 1:35 for a list in alphabetical order if you can't sit through the whole minute and a half before that (sit through it):

I was talking to Tammie the Housekeeper about how we aren't as slow this year as we were last year.  "Are you complaining?" Tammie the Housekeeper said.  "I would think that being busy is a nice problem for an innkeeper to have."

She had made a good point, of course.  Sometimes, I think Tammie the Housekeeper spends too much time with Frau Schmitt.  Frau Schmitt is usually right about these things, too.
Tammie the Housekeeper

Did you know Tammie the Housekeeper's family has a coat-of-arms?  I didn't either until she showed it to me.  Tammie is a Cajun, not a Creole.  Her family comes from out in the swamp, descended from French Canadians, French Canadians who have a long lineage that goes back to the founding of Normandy, no less.  Who knew?  Now I know.  You do, too, gentle reader.  When you stay with us, you are staying with noble gentry.

Shazbot!  All this talk about La Crêpe Nanou made me think of something else:

Na-Nu Nan-Nu,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Technical Difficulties

It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it does.  We're experiencing some technical difficulties of a vague and indeterminate nature that we cannot describe at this point in the diagnostic process.  I know: the suspense is killing you.  Apologies for the lightly nonexistent publishing schedule this week.  As I say, technical difficulties.  We should be back and up online on Sunday.

Why do I bother to put all this here if there is nothing to say?  Because there is nothing worse than a dead blog.  We're not dead.  Far from it.  

If you are looking for something to read, I did just recently rewrite our website's page about breakfast.  

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Finding the best New Orleans B&B

Lillie's Package Store, St. Ann Street, New Orleans, LA
I read a lot of online reviews about B&Bs in New Orleans.  It's a hobby of mine.  They are usually good reviews.  In fact, they are usually excellent reviews.  Why is that?  It's because the hospitality bar is set high in this city.  We love visitors.  We try to treat them right.  As innkeepers, we usually succeed.  That's our business.

Frau Schmitt and myself are professional innkeepers.  We wouldn't be in business for long if we couldn't compete with the other innkeepers in New Orleans.  We are currently ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, and we have been for 15 months and counting, keeping our fingers crossed, but it can't last forever.  I was talking to another innkeeper recently and he said, "I don't envy you being #1 so long.  There's only one direction in which you can go."  True enough.

What we try to offer is a taste of our neighborhood and what it is like to live in New Orleans.  We are newcomers to this city.  We have only lived here five years.  It is long enough to know a lot of things.  People are often flabbergasted by the amount of things we know, past, present and future about New Orleans.  That's our job.  It's also our passion.
What Lillie's Package Store sells
Being an innkeeper is the ultimate small business.  We invite people into our homes and share our lives with them.  Every B&B is unique, reflecting the personality, history, and interests of the innkeepers.  We are not located in the French Quarter or in the Garden District.  We're on the edge of Tremé.  We can talk about anywhere in the city because we go everywhere in the city.  Other innkeepers talk about other things.  If you want to talk about local musicians, we may not be your best choice.  We can talk about the local music scene but it isn't our forté.  We are more interested in what it is like to be a New Orleanian.

Be a New Orleanian wherever you are.

Most New Orleans B&Bs are good at what they do.  Each one is different.  Each one is different from staying in a hotel.  When you stay at La Belle Esplanade, we try to immerse you in what it is like to live here.  As long as you are staying with us, this is your home.  You can, and should, go to the French Quarter.  Be advised, however, that when you go to the Quarter, you'll mostly be meeting people who aren't from here.  You should go to the Quarter, but you should also spend time in the opposite direction.  New Orleanians are friendly and convivial.  They are happy to share their city with you and to show off its charms.
Steel pony
I was riding my motor scooter on North Broad Avenue the other day and I decided to take pictures of the painted electrical boxes that line the street.  I stopped across the street from Zulu headquarters to take a picture of that one.  The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club is a New Orleans institution about which you probably know little.  Click the link.
I'm not going to go into the history and relevance of Zulu here.  If you're interested you'll do the research.  They are a part of our neighborhood, the way so many other things are.  So much happens in New Orleans that many people aren't aware of.  Sometimes, when we're talking at breakfast, trying to explain what New Orleans is to our guests, we realize we have to backtrack a bit and start explaining from scratch.  It's a city with many layers.  It has more layers than an onion.  It has more layers than a universe.  It can make you cry, it's so beautiful.
Big Shot
If you say, "Big Shot," in New Orleans, you may be talking about soda pop or you may be talking about a Zulu officer.  Or, you may be talking about something else altogether.  Someone familiar with New Orleans culture will be able to follow the conversation.  Someone unfamiliar with New Orleans culture will need some explaining.  That's what we're here for.

We don't try to keep you in the French Quarter.  We encourage you to go to Frenchmen Street, but there is a whole wide city out here that isn't written about in the guidebooks.  That's where we live.  We go to the places you read about in the guidebooks, but we live in New Orleans.  Defend New Orleans.

Look, anywhere you stay, you'll be in New Orleans.  Like having a bad meal, it's hard to find a bad place to stay.  We hope you'll choose to stay with us, but we're a small boutique, five-suite operation.  Everybody can't stay with us.  We don't have room.  Arrive as guests, leave as friends.  That's our motto.  It isn't written down anywhere officially, but that's New Orleans' motto, too.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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