While riding Jefferson Transit's Kenner Local bus, I stopped for spring rolls at a place I thought had been closed since Katrina, discovered where film crews get their lights, found three local places for party supplies and topped it off with a whiskey on the rocks at a saloon. The Kenner Local is a great bus—unless you actually want to ride around Kenner...
The best thing about the Kenner Local bus is the sense of camaraderie: Everyone on the bus, including the driver, seemed eager to welcome me into the Kenner Local family. When the driver, Arnold Thomas Sr., was nearing the end of the route, he asked me where I was going. I nervously told him I was with Gambit, writing an article on public transit and needed to ride to the end of the line in Kenner. He told me that the bus going the other way was coming shortly and that he could stop it for me so I wouldn't be stuck in the heat. This driver also guided a woman to Hickory Street after she got out of her car in the middle of Jefferson Highway near Clearview Parkway to ask for directions. Before I got off the bus, Thomas offered advice (see video) to people who think public transit is too unreliable to use regularly:
On the way to my first stop, Kim Anh's Noodle House (6624 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 739-9995), I heard the bus honking at me and just assumed the driver was being super friendly. Turns out, I'd left my purse and a passenger was coming out to give it to me! I have never felt so thankful. Thank you, Kenner Local passengers.
Kim Anh's Noodle House used to be in New Orleans East before Katrina (Kim Anh Restaurant) and was a vendor at Jazz Fest for many years before opening in Harahan seven years ago. The menu is brief and has traditional Vietnamese appetizers, soup, vermicelli, rice platters, bubble teas and a few Chinese dishes. I ordered the hand-squeezed lemonade (they squeeze lemonade by the glass, not the pitcher), pork and shrimp spring rolls and veggie spring rolls. Unlike some other Vietnamese restaurants in East Jefferson, the food and presentation weren't modified for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. Always a plus in my book.
My next stop was to Light Bulb Depot (5900 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-0383; www.lightbulbdepot.com), a locally-owned store which has been in business for at least 30 years. Light Bulb Depot has dimmers, switches and every type of light bulb imaginable: halogen, strobe, black, shatter-resistant, insect-repellent, colored energy-efficient, etc. Unlike big-box hardware stores, Light Bulb Depot bases inventory upon customer request rather than sales. They even have replicas of bulbs from 1890-1920. The fifth light bulb from the left is a replica of a light bulb designed in 1920 to encourage Americans to use electricity instead of gas. There's a magnet inside which makes the light flicker as a gas lamp's flame would. I plan on coming back to get one of those flickering bulbs, but Gambit blogger Hollie Woodsouth should make a visit soon for more celebrity scoop, as I've been told film crews are there daily.
Across the street at Marque's Food Wholesale Market (5821 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 366-3745; www.marquesfood.com), I found wholesale-priced food without having to pay membership fees. Like shopping at any other grocery store, some things will be cheaper somewhere else, but in general Marque's offers many bargains on frozen food, pantry items, cooking and cleaning supplies.
Emmett's Fine Meats and Seafood (5618 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-0901; www.emmettsmeats.com) is a few doors down from the Red, White and Blue thrift store and has been open for a year and a half, offering house-made sausages including boudin and Turducken sausage, party trays, prepared foods and smoked meats and fish.
Happy Hour Supplies is nearby and offers everything necessary—except the booze—to throw a cocktail party, wine tasting, or frat party-esque bacchanal. There are also party supplies at prices to rival Party City and items that can only be found online in bulk, such as cardboard cupcake separators and pink pastry boxes like the ones on the big and small screens.
After this, I took the Kenner Local back to the end of the line in Rivertown so I could catch the RTA's Kenner Loop and take care of other Gambit business. Oddly enough, the Kenner Local only hits Kenner on the tail-end of the route. RTA's Kenner Loop is the only bus that goes down major streets in Kenner such as West Esplanade, Loyola Drive and Williams Boulevard.
Sadly, the Kenner Loop is my least favorite bus of every bus I've ever ridden: The schedule is weird as it doesn't always go to all the stops on each ride, it puts me to sleep because the driver has to drive slowly and not go over the speed limit and the route isn't like normal bus routes where a passenger gets off at a stop and can cross the street to catch the bus going the other way.
Again, I cried on the Kenner Loop. After I was done in Kenner, I wanted to take the Kenner Loop back to Rivertown to take the Kenner Local down Jefferson Highway to The Pour House Saloon. After waiting an hour for the Kenner Loop, I was told it wouldn't take me to the end of the line, where I needed to go. In the RTA's defense, this is how they operate the bus daily. I had a schedule but didn't know this was the case since I'm not too familiar with Kenner and since the route meanders so much. I would've been stuck in Kenner had my fiance not offered pick me up from Esplanade Mall, the only familiar place on the Kenner Loop's route.
The Pour House Saloon (3501 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 222-6650) is a bar where everyone knows each other and where outsiders will feel uneasy upon their first visit, until they are welcomed into the family. When my fiance and I walked in, it felt like I was in a western since everyone turned around and looked at us. When we sat at the bar, I told the bartender I was with Gambit so she wouldn't think I was some weirdo taking pictures. A middle-aged man in the corner saw me taking pictures and said, "Now you'd bitter not git any pictures of me in there and git me in trouble with mah wahf!" I laughed and told him I was just getting the decor, not any faces. His friend asked me, "Now you're not with the NAACP, is ya? The KKK?" I had just been pledged into the fraternity of The Pour House Saloon. It was clear that these guys just wanted to have a good time and unwind after work with their buddies over a steak and potatoes. The Pour House Saloon is just what I imagined a saloon to be, except there were no swinging doors for me to kick in to enter: mounted animal heads, jukebox, wood paneling, stiff drinks, attractive bartenders and even a few cowboy hats.
I hope you enjoyed our bus adventure! Let's do it again next Tuesday! Here are some outtakes from this bus adventure.