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A Drink & a Dozen

The history – so far – of Pascal’s Manale

Pascal’s Manale pictured in April 1963. Delivery and drive-up service were part of the restaurant’s offerings in the ’30s. They promised a prompt delivery service of not just their delicious food, but also liquor. If you opted for curb service, you could also have a cocktail served to the car. “We know that when we receive a telephone order for packaged liquors, our customers are usually in a hurry for service and we give them prompt delivery.” (The Times-Picayune, June 18, 1936.)

Frank Manale opened Manale’s Restaurant at the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Dryades Street in 1913. Helped by family, including his nephew Pascal Radosta, he managed it until his death in ’37. Pascal took over and eventually changed the restaurant’s name to Pascal’s Manale. The restaurant has remained under family management through four generations.

Seafood, steaks and pasta dishes have been the mainstay of the Italian-Creole menu since they opened, but their most famous dish – barbecue shrimp – came not from local tradition, but from Chicago. Vincent Sutro, a family friend and regular visitor to New Orleans, was dining at the restaurant in the mid-1950s when he suggested the dish to Pascal Radosta Sr. They went into the kitchen right then and there, and a classic was born. Steeped in a (highly classified secret) butter, herb and pepper sauce, the large, heads-on shrimp don’t resemble what people commonly think of as barbecue, but the dish has been their best-seller for six decades.

The 1950s were also a period of many remodels and updates: a new parking lot, the newly air-conditioned dining room, kitchen upgrades and the “Pascal Dining Room,” built to accommodate banquets, weddings and parties.

What hasn’t changed, however, are the polished-wood bar and the white marble-topped oyster bar just inside the front door, both of which have been there since the restaurant opened 1913. In The large wooden bar was put in as part of a deal with Dixie Brewing Co., in exchange for beer exclusivity.

A drink and a dozen shucked while waiting for a table is as popular and iconic as the dishes themselves. For the past 30 years, a large part of that popularity is due directly to the charm and skills of the “World’s Most Famous Oyster Shucker, the pride of Uptown, Thomas ‘Uptown T’ Stewart.”

 

 

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