The city's oldest restaurant is also home to four rooms of Mardi Gras memorabilia, and the connection between Carnival and Antoine's Restaurant on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter runs deep.
“I don't think there was any giant decision or fanfare about it ever,” restaurant CEO Rick Blount said. “Carnival wasn't a giant deal when it first started. It was probably small and grew, and so Antoine's place in Carnival was probably small, and grew.”
Antoine's pre-dates organized Carnival parades in New Orleans. The historic restaurant opened its doors in 1840. It’s not surprising that as friends gathered with dreams of masked parades through the streets, many gathered at Antoine's
“I think kings of Carnival have always liked to gather,” Dr. Stephen Hales said. “I mean, you can't just be king of Carnival on one day and let it go.”
Now the restaurant features four rooms honoring different krewes.
The bar celebrates the Krewe of Hermes. Upstairs you'll find a room dedicated to the krewe that kicks off Carnival each year, the Twelfth Night Revelers. The Krewe of Proteus, the city's oldest night parade, just revamped its room. And the Rex Room is specifically dedicated to the kings of Carnival.
“Every king of Carnival is here back to Louis Solomon 1872 all the way up though Christie Brown, Rex 2015,” Hales said.
With the help of the Historic New Orleans Collection, the room now holds treasures and gems from past parades.
“HNOC brought over some beautiful new items, some beautiful new costume jewelry, beautiful queens gowns, lovely crowns and septors - they've really done a beautiful job,” Hales said.
And they'll be preserved for years to come.
“Post Katrina, we discovered that some of the display cases here weren't exactly up to museum standards, and dust was intruding and so on, so over the past year all of the displays in this room have been freshened,” Hales said.
But the rooms aren't just reserved for royalty.
“Antoine's has a lot of stuff around, and all of that stuff has some little piece of history to it,” Blount said. “And so it’s really fun, I think, for diners and visitors and whoever to walk around Antoines and discover little pieces of history.”
It’s a Carnival collection that keeps growing with every passing year to give diners a taste of our history.
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