Mary Tutwiler

John Georges buys Galatoire's Restaurant

by Mary Tutwiler

He wholesales groceries and home products to drug and convenience stores. He builds tugboats. He regularly buys out the Superdome so home games can be shown on local TV. He sells video poker machines. And now the self-made millionaire and New Orleans mayoral candidate is also one of the most exclusive restaurateurs in the French Quarter.

Maybe John Georges never sleeps. The 48-year-old became the majority owner of Galatoire’s yesterday, the same day he qualified to run for mayor of New Orleans, after which, he spent the rest of the day on jury duty.

Georges bought into Galatoire’s one day after the Galatoire family, who have owned the venerable restaurant on Bourbon Street for 104 years, announced they had sold a majority share to Destrehan businessman Todd Trosclair. According to the Times-Picayune, “by mid-afternoon [of the day the deal was made public] Trosclair said he had been besieged with offers from restaurant fans wanting to purchase a share of Galatoire’s. ‘People are wanting to buy into this,’ he said with disbelief.”

Georges, evidently, was one of them. “I thought it would be nice if I wanted to be mayor to at least invest in my own city,” Georges told the TP.

Both businessmen say that nothing will change at the grand Creole restaurant, from the lines down the sidewalk to the Sazerac-sodden Friday lunches, the lavish service and sybarite menu items like soufflé potatoes with Bearnaise sauce or speckled trout meniere topped with buttery jumbo lump crabmeat.

Galatoire’s chief operating officer, Melvin Rodrigue, will continue to run both the New Orleans restaurant and the post-Katrina outpost, Galatoires’s Bistro, in Baton Rouge. One last, slightly unnerving note from Trosclair: “Maybe we’ll expand Galatoire’s if we see an opportunity,” he told the TP. On the other hand, how terrible could it be, to have a Galatorie’s west, located in Lafayette?