Angel Miranda, the founder and owner of Lola's Restaurant (3312 Esplanade Ave., 488-6946; www.lolasneworleans.com) in Faubourg St. John, died from cancer late in September at age 57.
A native of Seville, Spain, Miranda opened his first New Orleans restaurant, Altamira, in the Warehouse District in the 1980s. That folded a few years later, but he found lasting success with his following venture, Lola's, which he opened in 1994 and named for his mother.
Lola's is a tiny place that has developed a huge following, and Miranda provided many New Orleanians with their first tastes of authentic Spanish cuisine. Even as the number of Spanish restaurants in New Orleans has grown, Lola's has remained popular as both a neighborhood cafe and a cross-town destination.
"When he opened, there was nothing even remotely like it in New Orleans," says Xavier Laurentino, a close friend and owner of the Riverbend restaurant Barcelona Tapas. "You see Lola's today and it's a successful restaurant, but to make that happen he had to work incredibly hard."
Lola's remains open, serving dinner nightly.