About 65 years ago, my parents would take my sister and me to a restaurant named Happy Landing on Hayne Boulevard near Lakefront Airport. The dining room was on the second floor, because there was no levee to keep the lake out when water levels were high. I remember eating fried crabs. Do you have any information about the restaurant?
Your question brings back happy memories of hot summers, cool breezes off the water and great seafood at restaurants along the New Orleans lakefront. Beginning in 1933, Happy Landing, located in the 6400 block of Hayne Boulevard, was one of those spots. Early advertisements for the restaurant pointed out it was opposite Shushan Airport, which opened in 1934 and is now known as Lakefront Airport.
"Boiled crabs, lake shrimp, river shrimp, crawfish and soft-shell crabs, when in season, unusual crawfish bisque, green turtle soup with sherry wine (if desired), frog legs on toast, tender and tasty Western T-bone and sizzling steaks are some of Happy Landing's specialties," read a 1938 advertisement in The Times-Picayune. "The quality of the food and the manner in which it is prepared and served, in addition to the congenial, informal atmosphere prevailing, has made Happy Landing the mecca of the social elite."
The restaurant also advertised a 40-foot bar, spacious dance floor and private party rooms for as many as 350 guests. Patrons danced to big band orchestras and jazz groups on Saturday nights and holidays including Mardi Gras, Christmas and New Year's Eve.
An early morning fire on Dec. 30, 1961 severely damaged the two-story building. Newspaper accounts said the custodian was inside Happy Landing when the fire broke out but escaped unhurt. The building suffered an estimated $15,000 in damages. The restaurant appears to have staged somewhat of a comeback, with a 1982 ad promoting shows there by musician/comedian Frankie Brent. Since then, however, it has faded into history.