Louisiana Postcard Collection, Mss. 3645, 3754, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.


Dear Julia,
Can you or Poydras explain how the Chinese resturant on Veterans next to the old Roy Rogers came to have a giant cactus for its sign? Nobody I asked can recall any Mexican restaurant there. Can you solve this long-standing mystery? Samantha Bordelon (Metairie)


In 1970, a fast food chain based in St. Louis built at 1011 Veterans Highway a new Taco King restaurant but there were problems with the lease. A lawsuit ensued and the completed and fully-equipped building was placed on the market. Three businesses – Steak King International, Taco Villa and Joe’s Meat Market – opened and closed there before 1973, when South Seas Restaurant opened at that location.

The new Chinese-American eatery found itself with a perfecty good, nearly-new eye-catching display sign towering over its parking. Unfortunately, it depicted a clearly Mexican man perching in a cactus.  Whether inspired by thrift, Happy Hour, or weird sense of humor, someone “fixed” the former Taco King sign by giving its inhabitant a makeover, modifing his headgear, facial hair and eye shape to look more Asian. The end result didn’t achieve its goal but was memorable. South Seas endured for years before it and the sign were both demolished



Dear Poydras and Julia,
I dimly recall my grandfather telling me there  once was an ostrich farm at City Park. I looked in the published history of the park and searched online without success. Did it really exist? Ernest DiSalvo (Marrero)


During WWI, City Park leased property to the New Orleans Ostrich Farm, hoping to cash in on what the lessees assured them would create a lucrative educational attraction while harvesting and selling plumes for the fashion trade. The farm was at the intersection of City Park Avenue and Orleans Avenue, where Delgado Community College stands today. The man behind the plan was Lafayette M. Hughes, formerly assoicated with the Long Beach Ostrich Farm outside Los Angeles.   

When the Long Beach operation folded, Hughes partnered with Fr. Andrew Quetu, a Franciscan priest who operated a farm at the Mission of San Juan Capistrano.  In 1913, 60 ostrich, with a combined value of $15,000, were transported from Long Beach to San Juan Capistrano but ostriches are apparently ill-suited to the contempletative life. The local press soon took notice of a series of unfortunate avian incidents beginning with a near fatal attack on padre John O’Sullivan. Hughes and his flock migrated to New Orleans in 1915.

In January 1915, City Park granted to Hughes permission to operate an ostrich farm. Three months later, the New Orleans Ostrich Farm was incorporated. Hughes paid for his shares by $15,000 worth of flightless and $5,000 worth of his personal “good will, experience, services and labor.” The farm got built but, like its livestock, never took flight. By July, park officials lowered rent and increased admission prices to aid the foundering venture but, within a month, the New Orleans Ostrich Farm was in receivership. In Dec. 1915, farm assets were liquidated at auction.  



Dear Julia,
My late aunt was a faithful Tonight Show viewer and was quite excited when Johnny Carson opened his restraurant in Metairie. It was called Here’s Johnny’s and wasn’t around long. It was on Vets near the 17th Street Canal. Can you tell me anything else about it? Eean Jones (New Orleans)


In the late 1960s, Gilbert “Gibby” Swanson, Jr., a member of the Swanson frozen food empire, approached Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to lend his name and catch-phrase to a new family-oriented fast-food chain. Carson served as board chair but neither owned nor participated in management of Johnny’s American Inn, Inc., which operated about 300 Here’s Johnny’s locations.  
Family Restaurant Corporation owned three Here’s Johnny’s franchises in New Orleans in 1970. The problem was that diners weren’t breaking down the doors to get ordinary burgers, fried chicken and similar fare, and soon closed.



Send your question to: Julia Street, c/o New Orleans Magazine,
110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 or email: