Mother’s Restaurant opened its doors in 1938 on Poydras Street’s “Restaurant Row”, situated between a thriving waterfront and the courthouse. Owners Simon and Mary (Mother) Landry and his large family cooked up po’ boys for lines of longshoremen and laborers, newspapermen and attorneys.
During and after World War II, Mother’s became a local hang-out for “the few and the proud” – the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marine spirit was in the family – five of the seven Landry children (five sons and two daughters) joined the Marine Corps. Francis Landry was the first woman in Louisiana to be accepted into the Corps. This special association with the Marines earned Mother’s the title of “TUN Tavern New Orleans” in the late ’60s. The original TUN tavern was the official birthplace of the Marines during the Revolutionary War.
Mother’s is not just a part of this great American tradition, but also stands as a uniquely New Orleans institution. The likes of other family-owned local businesses such as D.H. Holmes Department Stores, K&B Drug Stores, MacKenzie’s Bakery, and Werlein’s Music have all departed from the landscape, while Mother’s Restaurant has not only remained almost exactly the same, but has flourished.
In 1986, the Jerry and John Amato bought Mother’s from the Landry’s sons Jacques and Eddie. With the changing of the guard, many things were added but nothing, fortunately, lost. Jerry Amato, chef and proprietor, doubled the already dizzying size of the menu. Now traditional New Orleans dishes like jambalaya and Shrimp Creole line-up next to the po’ boys that Mother’s made famous, such as the Ferdi Special and the debris po-boy (for a history of these and other sandwiches on the Fun Facts page). Breakfast, lunch and dinner items are cooked with fresh ingredients and bold, delicious flavor.
You will still see longshoremen in boots and you’ll find plenty of locals rubbing elbows in line with visitors, veterans, politicians and movie stars. Mother’s remains true to its working class origins. Nobody gets treated better (or worse) than anybody else. As Jerry Amato says, “Everybody gets fed. Everybody comes back.”
So go ahead, join ranks with the not-so-few, but intensely proud – the Mother’s crowd.