Trapani's Eatery, an Old Town restaurant landmark in Bay St. Louis lost to Hurricane Katrina, reopened March 13. The century-old building at 116 North Beach remains a pile of uncleared rubble but Tony and Jolynne Trapani, who started their business there in 1994, will rebuild.|
They hope to be among the first to do so by summer 2007 and are working with an architect.
"One of our biggest goals is to have that same atmosphere," said Jolynne. "We'll recreate what we can of the old restaurant in a 'new' two-story building. We can't replicate that building, it was unique. But we can bring back the ambiance and that unique style of food found only in this region."
Meanwhile, you can have their eggplant or shrimp po-boy, or their best seller, Panéed Trout Eatery, at the temporary address on U.S. 90. The waterfront view and that Old Town ambiance aren't there, but the original recipes from Tony, who also does much of the cooking, are.
"What we've tried to do is keep everything that we could the same, including the food and the hours," she said. "The best part is that we have our entire kitchen staff, some with us more than 10 years. We have five or six of the same wait staff."
The difference is in the customers.
"We're not seeing our typical customers now that summer is here, especially the New Orleans people who had summer homes and now have no place to stay," she said. "And there aren't the tourists walking the streets anymore.
"We're getting locals, out-of-town volunteers and the workers and contractors here to help the Coast rebuild. Our customer numbers are about the same, but the faces are different."
The Trapanis, who started the eatery after college and have two children, also lost their home.
"It's been a long, hard road," she reflected, "but every day it gets better."
- KAT BERGERON