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Blake Pontchartrain: Remembering Reno's restaurant 

click to enlarge A postcard advertising Reno's restaurant.

Postcard courtesy Reno Jean Daret III

A postcard advertising Reno's restaurant.

Hey Blake,

When did Reno's restaurant open? I have a postcard that shows it was located at 728 Gravier St. in 1910.

RENO JEAN DARET III

Dear Reno,

Joseph Reno opened his restaurant and bar in the 700 block of Gravier Street in 1907. An October 1907 advertisement in the New Orleans Item touted its private second floor dining rooms and "special lunch from 11 to 2." Later ads also highlighted its French cuisine, ladies' dining room, merchants' lunch and "polite service."

  In May 1911, Mr. Reno was listed as providing catering services for the restaurant at the Southern Yacht Club. The next month it was announced that Reno, "the well-known caterer on Gravier Street," was opening a restaurant at the Spanish Fort amusement resort area. An ad in the Item promoted the new restaurant, called The Miramar. "This establishment will be conducted upon the same high plane as Reno's Famous Restaurant and Cafe," read the ad, which also promoted the new spot's "splendid accommodations for banquets and large parties, unexcelled cuisine and excellent service."

  Reno's Gravier Street establishment likely benefited from its location across the street from the St. Charles Hotel, a major downtown landmark that opened in 1837. Twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt, the ornate building was a major hotel in the city for more than 125 years. It was known as the Sheraton Charles Hotel in 1965 when businessman Louis Roussel Jr. bought the property. In 1974, it was demolished to make room for a 40-story hotel that never materialized. In 1985, the Place St. Charles office building opened on the site.

  It's not clear when Reno's closed, but the block now is a mix of businesses and a parking garage. Reno's became part of a restaurant row of sorts during its heyday. It was near two other eateries: Lamothe's (at 718-720 Gravier St.) and Old Hickory, at Carondelet and Gravier streets. A bar, the Stag Saloon, was located at 712 Gravier St. from 1907 to 1919. It was operated by Henry Charles Ramos, whose famous drink, the Ramos Gin Fizz, looms large in local cocktail history.

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