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Covering the Bases 

The trio of partners at New Orleans Fine Rugs Inc. (6117 Magazine St., 899-1595) views the floor coverings they sell as art, something that can be cherished for years and passed on as an heirloom to later generations.

"A rug can either be the background or the focal point of a room," says Jay Sanchez, who owns the 9-month-old business with partners Janel Eddlestone and Jamie Flattmann. "Think of it as a piece of art. Art can evoke an emotion -- good or bad and a rug can do the same. Our clients tend to be into the emotional part of it; they don't want it just to work (in a room), they want to love it."

All the rugs sold at New Orleans Fine Rugs are hand woven and made from wool, which holds up over time and is easy to clean. "It can last forever," says Flattmann, who looks at special floor coverings as a good investment. The true testament to the quality and service provided by the owners, however, is that the store enjoys a lot of repeat business from customers, the majority of whom are interior designers looking for the perfect match for a client's home décor. If customers don't find what they want among the multitude of selections in the showroom, the owners will search for the perfect rug for the customer or will custom order or custom design one.

The owners, two of whom where born and raised in New Orleans, each have a decade of experience in the local rug business, working for 10 years for the late Jacqueline Vance, a nationally respected rug purveyor. They agree that much of their business philosophy was adopted from Vance, whose expertise about antique and contemporary rugs and her selection attracted customers from all over the county.

"My inspiration comes from Jacqueline's views," says Eddlestone, including a focus on light antique color schemes of muted golds, corals, blues and other softened colors that blend well with both antique and contemporary settings.

"She's the underlying muse," Sanchez adds. "Our eyes were trained through hers in terms of what New Orleanians want."

Part of their business philosophy is to carry only the best quality, whether it is antique rugs or the more affordable new rugs. "Some people want the antique look but not the price, so we have new ones that look old," Eddlestone says.

"We only carry the finest lines," Sanchez says. "Even within the lines we carry, which are broad, we're very picky. We like extraordinary, not ordinary." Many of the brand names, such as Odegard and Asmara, are exclusive to New Orleans Fine Rugs Inc.

In addition to rugs, the business also offers cleaning and repair services and consultations to help customers get just the right rug design for their interior space. The owners also are happy to answer questions from potential customers, even if it doesn't result in a sale. "We want people to feel free to come in and ask questions and not feel pressured," Eddlestone says. "We want them to feel comfortable asking questions, even if they don't buy from us."


Pet Friendly Hospital

The nonprofit Southern Animal Foundation (SAF) has opened the Frances McDonough Memorial Clinic (1823 Magazine St., 671-8235; www.southernanimalfoundation.org), a full-service veterinary hospital that provides spaying and neutering services at no or low cost to low-income pet owners and animal rescue organizations.

SAF, established in 1995, opened the new clinic late last month as part of its adoption center and shelter for homeless animals. That center was destroyed a year ago in a fire that also heavily damaged eight buildings on Magazine Street and killed numerous pets. The SAF is funded entirely through donations.

Hats Off to the Chefs

Local restaurateurs Dickie Brennan and Chef Duke LoCicero have been named state winners of the Louisiana Restaurant Association's Restaurant Neighbor Award. They now are eligible for a national award that recognizes restaurant operators' support of and service to their communities.

Brennan each year donates more than $50,000 worth of food, gift cards, custom packages, signed cookbooks and services to local causes and charities. In addition, on Sept. 11, he honored New Orleans firefighters and police officers by offering $5 three-course lunches at his Palace Cafe and Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse.

LoCicero, who owns Cafe Giovanni, founded the Chef Duke Foundation for kids, which provides medical, educational and other funding to children in need. That foundation raises about $40,000 a year to help children experiencing financial difficulties.

The National Restaurant Association will announce winners of the national Restaurant Neighbor Award as well as a Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year during a conference in Washington D.C. later this month.

Coffee and a Good Book

The East Bank Regional Library (4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 838-1100) is making visiting its facility even more enjoyable with the opening this month of a coffee shop in the foyer of the building. The coffee shop will be operated by Chateau Coffee Cafe. A grand opening, complete with coffee and pastries, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 23.

click to enlarge Bringing fine rugs to the city's residents is the goal - of New Orleans Fine Rugs owners (top left) Janel - Eddlestone, Jamie Flattmann and (bottom) Jay - Sanchez.
  • Bringing fine rugs to the city's residents is the goal of New Orleans Fine Rugs owners (top left) Janel Eddlestone, Jamie Flattmann and (bottom) Jay Sanchez.
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