Food Fighters – Midnight Menu +1 – It’s New Orleans
If you’re the type of New Orleanian who “goes out” – meaning you spend time in bars or music clubs and tend to see the same couple of hundred faces, some of whom you know by name and some of whom you just recognize – Joe Armitage is a fellow traveler.
Joe has been working in restaurants around New Orleans for, by his own reckoning, 30 years. And he’s only 43. For about the same amount of time he’s been playing in bands around town. So if you go out there’s a fair chance you know Joe. Most recently you would’ve known him as the manager of Sammich, the uniquely New Orleans take on a sandwich shop on Maple Street. Hopefully you enjoyed eating at Sammich and talking to Joe prior to reading this because, if you didn’t know already, as of this week Sammich is no more. Joe’s looking at his next incarnation as a swing of the pendulum back to the music side of his life.
It might have been food and it might have been music that brought Joe and his plus one Aron Lambert together lo those 30 years ago when they were both starting out on a shared parallel food and music track. Aron’s family owns and operates Preservation Hall and Aron plays in the vaunted NOLA royalty that is the Treme Brass Band.
At Ray’s question of what is one of the most standout experiences Aron has had at Preservation Hall, Aron recounts the evening he spent with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters which leads into an examination of the constant fight that takes place in the creative worlds of music and food in New Orleans: keeping it real vs selling out. This argument used to be always locals vs tourists, today it’s old locals vs newcomer locals. The lines are blurred, and as Joe sums it up, “the business model of restaurants and music is just different now. Nobody’s selling records. And restaurants don’t plan on being around past 5 years.”
This conversation is an insightful examination of what it’s like to be in the front line of the food business and the second line of the music business by real New Orleanians who are smart, open minded, and like a beer.
Recorded live at the NOLA Brewing Tap Room (food tip: try the Poutine).