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Family Dining 

A trip to Dorignac's Food Center (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216) is something like a family reunion, with managers and check-out staff calling customers by name and shoppers, some of whom have been buying their groceries at the family-owned business for almost six decades, greeting each other.

"We have people who have been shopping here for second and third generations," says store owner Joseph Dorignac III. "We'll have a grandmother as a customer, then her daughter and later her granddaughter."

It has been a local institution in grocery shopping since his father, the late Joseph Jr., opened a small meat market on Jackson Avenue in 1946. He expanded that business in the same neighborhood three times before the family moved the store to its present location in Metairie in 1963.

From the beginning, Dorignac says, the philosophy was intensely customer oriented. "He always did try and handle as many items as he could, with lots of specialty items," Dorignac says of his father. "Whatever the customer asked for, he would try to get it."

That mindset still holds true today. Over the years, the store has expanded to include all types of food items from fresh produce, specialty products, a delicatessen, snack bar, bakery, large meat department and a huge liquor department.

"We have 250 types of beer," Dorignac says. "The wine selection is tremendous; the whole liquor section is great. We keep the prices down by the way we order."

The meat department also draws customers who appreciate having a customer representative at the counter and as many as a dozen people in the cutting room taking special orders and keeping the meat counter stocked. The store also offers on-premises catering orders including drumettes, sandwich trays, and vegetable and fruit trays.

To make sure the store maintains his family's standards, Dorignac is in the store on most days, but he credits his staff with keeping things running smoothly.

"I have very good people that work with me -- the managers at the front of the store and each department has its own manager," he says. "Along with the customer service, our meat department and liquor department are second to none in the area, and the liquor department is one of the biggest and the best."

Despite the successful formula, Dorignac says he has no plans to open a second store. "Right now we're trying to maintain what we have; it's quite an operation," he says. "If you spread yourself out too thin, you're going to lose something -- service or quality."

A host of corporate sponsors are presenting Bike New Orleans, a 25-mile bicycle ride through New Orleans May 18, beginning at Marconi Meadows at City Park and ending with a post-tour festival sponsored by Franco's Lakeview Athletic Club. The after-tour party features free food and beverages, interactive games, exhibits and music.

Registration is $30, with proceeds benefiting the New Orleans Police Foundation. Registration runs from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and the tour starts at 9 a.m.

Although it's billed as a bicycle tour, any non-motorized, self-propelled vehicle can be ridden, including unicycles, tricycles, trailers, side cars and bikes built for two. Helmets are required. Riders can register on the day of the race or visit the Bike New Orleans Tour Expo at Marconi Meadows from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 17.

Sponsors include Franco's, Gambit Weekly, Whitney Bank, PAX TV, Channel 49, WNOE, Bollinger Marine, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Bicycling Magazine, Pepsi, Abita Light, Red Bull, Krispy Kreme, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, French Market Corp., Smoothie King, The Vacation Place, Joe's Bicycle, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines and www.wwltv.com.

 


Wedding Bliss

Shades Bridal Magazine
, which premieres in July, is teaming up with Doubletree Hotel and Fashion Fair Cosmetics to present the 2003 Black Bridal Expo at 1 p.m. May 25 at the Doubletree's International Ballroom (300 Canal St., 581-1300). Admission is $10.

The exposition will include a host of vendors that will offer wedding planning advice, product samples, tastings of cuisine from caterers, on-site makeovers by Fashion Fair cosmetics, door prizes and other giveaways. Future brides also will be eligible to register for a honeymoon package at the Sandals Beach Resort in Montego Bay Jamaica provided by The Travel Network.

 

Expanding Bar Scene

Visitors to the Central Business District now have a new place to relax with libations. Dominic's bar (219 Carondelet St., 566-1876) opened last month in a renovated 1920s building in the CBD, just a couple of blocks from bustling Bourbon Street. The upscale bar boasts one of the largest drink selections in the area.

click to enlarge Started as a meat market on Jackson Avenue in the - 1940s, Dorignac's now offers a full range of - groceries, deli, liquor and household products.
  • Started as a meat market on Jackson Avenue in the 1940s, Dorignac's now offers a full range of groceries, deli, liquor and household products.
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