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By Anthony Nelson

Visiting Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans

Every city has a history. In its streets, in its people, and in the structures they inhabit. While in New Orleans, the establishment that comes up the most when people ask where they can mainline the culinary culture pumping through the city is none other than Mother's Next Door. Founded in 1938 by Simon Landry and his wife, "Mother" Mary Landry, the cafeteria styled eatery enjoyed a long and lucrative career catering to laborers of the wharf. Long before its sale to the Amato brothers in 1986, it had become the place to get a home-cooked meal when out and about in "Restaurant's Row." Today, its rustic, brick façade is a welcome sight to out-of-towners and residents alike. Inside, it still proudly displays trimmings of its past, even showing off the abandoned dumbwaiter in the center of its main dining area. In the back, Mother's is divided by heavy metal fire doors left behind from when the space was a power plant, which only adds to the gone-by-era charm and decor. This place has a lot of room, and filling it are hordes of smiling, full-bellied patrons enjoying an afternoon at mother's table.

Remember when dining out meant more than eating quickly, making sure you left a tip that wouldn't embarrass your party, and then getting out of dodge before the wait staff started giving your tabletop dirty looks? Mother's Next Door remembers. Look around, and all of the empty plates speak for themselves, but the real charm of Mother's is the fact that there is no rush to leave once the meal is complete. Take your time and enjoy the stay. This is comfort food, so it only stands to reason you should get comfortable while here. The ham is world famous, the seafood platter is caught fresh, and the bread pudding blends brandy in a thick, sweet sauce as lively as the kitchen it came from. And when the tables finally do turn, it'll be because you've had your fill.

Not to say that Mother's hasn't had its fair share of hardships. The roaring devastation known as Katrina set its eye on the Louisiana/Mississippi border back in 2005. Due to the increased rain, the waters bordering the 9th ward surged to record-breaking levels. We all know what happened next. New Orleans suffered a great tragedy that warm summer evening. Residents were displaced, driving winds stripped buildings, and streets were turned into extensions of the levees' cold, wet reach. With the city swirling beneath the growing need for normalcy, displaced locals began to make their way back home. Although Mother's suffered extensive water damage and, like so many others, had to close its doors, the owners procured 9 FEMA trailers and used them to house former employees of the restaurant. There they managed to band together and re-open, much to the pleasant surprise of homesick returnees. Together, working hand in hand with the community that's given the establishment it's famed reputation, Mother's Next Door began to rebuild the spirits of its neighborhood one comforting Po' Boy at a time.

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