New Orleans Regains Its Famous Appetite

Wayne Baquet Sr. is the owner of Li'l Dizzy's Café. i i

hide captionWayne Baquet Sr. is the owner of Li'l Dizzy's Café.

Andrea Hsu, NPR
Wayne Baquet Sr. is the owner of Li'l Dizzy's Café.

Wayne Baquet Sr. is the owner of Li'l Dizzy's Café.

Andrea Hsu, NPR
A health department notice says Li'l Dizzy's is approved for re-opening. i i

hide captionBaquet reopened his restaurant four weeks ago. The building suffered major damage in Katrina and was looted twice. While awaiting insurance money, the owner has used his own funds to gut the place and completely rebuild.

A health department notice says Li'l Dizzy's is approved for re-opening.

Baquet reopened his restaurant four weeks ago. The building suffered major damage in Katrina and was looted twice. While awaiting insurance money, the owner has used his own funds to gut the place and completely rebuild.

As New Orleans comes back to life, the restaurants that have reopened their doors are hopping. Michele Norris visits Li'l Dizzy's Cafe, where owner Wayne Baquet cooks up breakfast for about a hundred customers every morning.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

New Orleanians have always loved their food, but many are eating out much more these days. So many homes are in various states of repair, and so many people are looking for more than mere nutrition. The restaurants are where they catch up with old friends and feast on treats they missed when they fled the city. Gumbo, beignets, and crawfish etouffée. Everyone we've met has said they've gained a few pounds and I must admit, I've been eating early and often myself. This morning I had a southern-style breakfast at Li'l Dizzy's Café on Esplanade and Robertson.

Mr. WAYNE BAQUET, SR. (Owner, Li'l Dizzy's Café): (Unintelligible) here's browning catfish, white scramble, grits and catfish. Coming at you, getting it out the skillet here. Yup. My name is Wayne Baquet, Sr. and I'm the owner of Li'l Dizzy's Café and proud to be a New Orleanian and proud to be back. The minute I opened the doors I was busy. And it just grew and grew and grew and now it's just, you know, today is a test because the holiday is over and we still rocking and rolling. So, you know, we're really doing well.

NORRIS: Does food represent a kind of therapy for people right now?

Mr. BAQUET: Oh, I think so. I think so. People are coming back, they've been out of town a long time and I think as people come back to rebuild, make decisions about what they're going to do in New Orleans, they're stopping by our restaurant and loving it. It's like a family reunion. Everyday somebody comes in here and say, I'm back. I have a table over there right now, Louis right there. You understand, been a customer, him and his family, for years and years and he's just getting back yesterday, he just got back yesterday.

Mr. LOUIS SALMNE(ph) (Resident, New Orleans): Yeah, I just got back yesterday.

NORRIS: So it sounds like this was one of your first stops now that you're back.

Mr. SALMNE: Second. I went to my sister-in-laws last night for dinner and this is the second stop for breakfast. There's no food anywhere else, probably in the world, like in New Orleans. We know how to make it taste better than everybody else. That's all there is to it. Obviously there's only a few thing you can do with bacon and eggs, but it just seems to taste better here in New Orleans than anywhere else.

NORRIS: Louis Salmne enjoying breakfast at Wayne Baquet's restaurant, Li'l Dizzy's Cafe, in New Orleans.

Mr. SALMNE: Wayne, tell them to crack me some eggs baby.

(Soundbite of restaurant chatter)

NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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