People who might have spotted the giant mug sign from Ted's Frostop (3100 Calhoun St., 861-3615) being loaded onto a flatbed truck and driven away last fall can be excused for thinking they'd witnessed the end of an era. In fact, it was part of a new chapter for a long-running legacy.
That mug is a 14-foot-tall, sheet metal relic from the glory days of the American burger stand, and it's been a kitschy landmark on South Claiborne Avenue since it first was installed in the 1950s. More recently, it became a defiant symbol of Hurricane Katrina recovery.
Originally mounted on a high pedestal over the restaurant, the mug was knocked down by Katrina's storm winds, landing upside down in the parking lot. Rather than right it, the Ted's crew had it repaired as it stood, with frosted top to the pavement. When Ted's reopened in 2006, the logo on its menus and T-shirts was changed to show the mug upside down.
But the mug's move in September 2011 signaled a new start for Ted's Frostop, which now has a new owner, a revamped menu and, as of last week, a newly restored mug sign returned to its original, frosted-side-up stature. Finishing touches include illuminating the sign with neon lettering and making it spin.
"I'm sure a lot of people will be upset that we don't have it upside down anymore, but we want to signal there's a renaissance going on," says Peter Moss, who bought Ted's last year.
Moss is a Royal Street antiques dealer who also owns Cafe Beignet coffee shops in the French Quarter and is a partner in the Steamboat Natchez. He's out to revitalize Ted's, and repairing the mug was one step. He's replaced the pre-formed patties used in hamburgers with fresh-ground chuck and the restaurant's namesake root beer is once again made using the original Frostop recipe and is served in frosted mugs.