THE ROOSEVELT REVIEW A publication of The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Editor Topher Balfer Art Director Tiffani Reding Amedeo contributing writers Emily Andras, Sally Asher, Les East, Fritz Esker, Amy Gabriel, Alexa Harrison, Carolyn Kolb, John Magill, Tim McNally, Amanda Orr, Melanie Spencer, Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur Contributing Photographers Sara Essex Bradley, Cheryl Gerber, Brian Huff, Jeffery Johnston, Greg Miles
sales manager Alyssa Copeland traffic Coordinator Lane Brocato
production designers Emily Andras, Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney
Chief Executive officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive vice president/Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde vice president of sales Colleen Monaghan director of marketing and events Cheryl Lemoine Executive assistant Mallary Matherne customer service Brittanie Bryant The Roosevelt Review is produced for the Roosevelt New Orleans by Renaissance Publishing, LLC 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 • Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 • Fax (504) 828-1385 myneworleans.com A special thanks to Etienne “ET” Tardy, Ryan Eugene and Tod Chambers The Roosevelt New Orleans 130 Roosevelt Way • New Orleans, LA 70112 Reservations: 800.WALDORF therooseveltneworleans.com The Roosevelt Review is published by
Copyright 2019 The Roosevelt New Orleans and Renaissance Publishing, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced without consent of the publisher. © The Roosevelt New Orleans
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HONORS & Awards
Combining old-world glamour and contemporary creole cuisine
Preserving the legacy
the fountain lounge
Satiate Your Sweet Tooth
Luxury, history, business, pleasure and family fun, all in one place
Teddy’s Cafe celebrates the Roosevelt’s 125th anniversary with a pink champagne cupcake
Gorgeous gifts for yourself and others at The Emporium
Sippin’ at the Sazerac
For an atmosphere of sophistication and old-world charm, visitors and locals still flock to the Sazerac Bar after 125 Years
The suite life
Luxe rooms with a view fit for royalty
A Luxurious Escape
Relax and recharge in the Waldorf Astoria Spa
Eat, Drink and Dance
A quick glance at some of what New Orleans has to offer
the blue room
A sapphire serenade
The Roosevelt’s beginnings, endings and everything in-between
A Waldorf Wonderland
Holiday magic at The Roosevelt
Huey Long and Friends
The hotel’s most famous guest left lasting impressions on everyone
125 timeless stories Meet Me at the Clock
Cover Photo: by sara essex bradley
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WELCOME TO The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel. You couldn’t have picked a better year to visit as we celebrate 125 years of excellence and grandeur at our hotel. We are thrilled to host you during your stay in the hospitable city of New Orleans. You will join the list of guests that have been visiting our Grande Dame hotel since 1893. We want to ensure your experience with us is second to none and that you will return time and time again to savor this luxurious, classic hotel. Please enjoy this magazine, The Roosevelt Review, a mainstay of communication to our guests since the 1930s. Since re-opening our doors after Hurricane Katrina, we have focused on celebrating our rich, historic legacy while providing our guests with the highest levels of personal service and modern comforts. During a 170 million dollar restoration, we exposed and restored the iconic mosaic tile floor in the lobby and architectural details in the ceiling and the gold adorned lobby. Further, we have reintroduced the Fountain Lounge in order to bring live music back into the hotel along with fantastic New Orleans fare. We have combined this gem of a facility with True Waldorf Service principles to create authentic interactions designed to: • Create the moments that build memories and shape a personal Waldorf legacy • Bring out the best in the entire team and you, our guests • Ensure luxury through anticipatory personalized service • Inspire you to return time and time again Our entire team of hospitality professionals strive to deliver on the above pillars to create the perfect environment that is “better than home.” While our guest, we hope you take full advantage of the many features and services within The Roosevelt. Visit the famous Sazerac Bar, where our bartenders will create tasty libations including the namesake Sazerac cocktail, or Governor Long’s favorite, the Ramos Gin Fizz. In The Waldorf Astoria Spa, professional therapists will treat you and you will leave feeling both relaxed and reinvigorated. Come up to our rooftop pool and bar and enjoy wonderful food and beverages while lounging by our heated pool. It is our simple goal to anticipate and exceed all of your expectations as our guest. All of our 450 full-time hospitality professionals stand ready to enhance your experience in the most “authentic” city in the United States — New Orleans.
Tod Chambers General Manager
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h o n o rs & awar d s
2018 CNN, Top 20 of America’s Most Beautiful Hotels
Hilton Worldwide, General Manager of the Year, 2015
Hilton Worldwide, Overall Services in the Luxury Division, 2013
Travel + Leisure, World’s Greatest Hotels, Resorts and Spas, 2011
2018 CNN, Top 15 Hotels in the World That Go All-Out for the Holidays
U.S. News and World Report, Best New Orleans Hotels, 2015
Hotels.com, Top Rated U.S. Hotels, 2013
AAA Southern Traveler, Best Restored Hotel, 2011
U.S. News and World Report, Best Hilton Group Hotels & Resorts, 2015
Travel + Leisure, America’s Best Hotels for Christmas, 2013
Country Roads Magazine, Favorite Hotel, 2011
CNN, Top 9 Hotels That Go All-Out For Christmas, 2015
Saveur Culinary Travel Awards, Outstanding Hotel Bar, 2013
TripAdvisor, Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame, 2015
Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Best Hotel in New Orleans, 2013
Gambit’s Best of New Orleans Awards, Best Hotel Bar – Sazerac Bar, 2010
2018 Architectural Digest, 15 Most Beautiful Hotel Lobbies in the World 2018 Gambit’s Best of New Orleans, Best Hotel 2018 New Orleans CityBusiness Reader Rankings, Best Hotel 2018 USA Today’s 10Best, #1 Best Hotel Bar, The Sazerac Bar
TripAdvisor, Certificate of Excellence, 2011-2015
Hilton Worldwide, Connie Award, 2012
Hilton Worldwide, Best Conversion, 2010
Hilton Worldwide, Hotel of the Year, 2012
New Orleans Magazine Tops of the Town, Favorite Hotel, 2011 New Orleans Magazine Tops of the Town, Favorite Renovated Building, 2010 and 2011
New Orleans CityBusiness Reader Rankings, Best Hotel, 2017
Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Top 5 Hotels in New Orleans, 2014
Gambit’s Best of New Orleans, Best Hotel. 2017
Fodor’s Guides, 10 Most Breathtaking Hotel Lobbies in the U.S., 2014
Hilton Worldwide, General Manager of the Year, 2012
TimeOut, 15 Best Hotels in New Orleans, 2017
OpenTable, Diner’s Choice Restaurant - Fountain Lounge, 2014
Hilton Worldwide, Genius of “AND”, 2012
Southern Living, The South’s Top 10 Hotels, 2017
Gambit’s Best of New Orleans Awards, Best Hotel, 2010, 2013 and 2014
Hilton Worldwide, Most Improved Guest Satisfaction, 2012
CNN, Top 20 of America’s Most Beautiful Hotels, 2016 AAA, Four Diamond Lodgings, 2011-2016 Travel + Leisure, Best Hotel in Louisiana, 2015 Travel + Leisure, 500 Best Hotels in the World, 2013 and 2015 Hilton Worldwide, Excellence in Quality, 2015
Hilton Worldwide, Hotel of the Year, 2013 Hilton Worldwide, General Manager of the Year, 2013 Hilton Worldwide, Director of Human Resources of the Year, 2013 Hilton Worldwide, Food and Beverage Excellence, 2013 Hilton Worldwide, Event Loyalty, 2013
ABC News, World’s Most Lavish Hotel Lobbies, 2010
Hilton Worldwide, Highest Guest Satisfaction, 2012 Downtown Development District of New Orleans, Chairman’s Award, 2013 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards, Top 10 Best Luxury Hotels in the U.S., 2012 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Best in the World, 2011 Travel + Leisure, Best Hotels, 2011
Food & Wine Magazine, Best Hotels, 2010 Travel Agent Magazine, Hot New Hotels, 2010 Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Bricks and Mortar Award, 2010 Lodging Hospitality Design Award, 2010 Gambit’s Web Awards, Best Hotel Website, 2010 Playboy, America’s Greatest Bars – Sazerac Bar, 2010 Meeting and Conventions, Gold Award of Excellence, 2009
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125 Years of Splendor At 125 years young, the Roosevelt Hotel remains one of New Orleansâ€™ crown jewels by Fritz Esker THE Roosevelt Review 7
New Orleans is a city known for its
iconic architecture and compelling stories. Both can be found at the Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Baronne Street. It is one of the Crescent City’s signature buildings, a place where visitors and locals, the working class and the rich and famous, have mingled together for generations. Tod Chambers, general manager for the
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Roosevelt Hotel, said the hotel has always been a place for celebration. Whether it’s weddings, co-workers having drinks together at five o’clock, political events, or families spending Thanksgiving or Christmas together, the hotel is an epicenter for people enjoying life. While the nature of a hotel means it will often be full of out-of-towners, Chambers emphasized that the Roosevelt is, and always will be, a hotel of the city of
New Orleans. “The hotel has such a special place in the city because of its deep history,” Chambers said. “We want New Orleanians to come through it and see it.” The grand hotel features 504 rooms, including 125 luxury suites — some named for celebrities who once frequented the hotel; signature fine dining and cocktail venues; an entertainment space that rivals any other
in the Gulf South; state-of-the-art meeting and convention rooms; a UPS Business Center; and the Waldorf Astoria Spa, a12,000-squarefoot, world-class spa and fitness center. The Roosevelt also offers private dining and suite butler service, an outdoor pool and courtyard, and a gift shop. This year, the Roosevelt celebrates its 125th birthday. Those 125 years have brought many changes and a few hardships, but the hotel is stronger than ever and looks to keep its place in the New Orleans zeitgeist for another 125 years. The Lobby
Success bred growth, and the hotel added a 14-floor tower in 1908. There were now 400 rooms, as well as restaurants, a lounge and a bar called The Cave. The Cave sought to make patrons feel like they had escaped to a secret, magical world with waterfalls, stalactiteencrusted walls and statues of gnomes and nymphs. Theodore Grunewald, Louis’ son, sold the hotel in 1923 to the Vaccaro brothers, who immediately began plans to redesign the hotel. The Roosevelt
The Roosevelt seamlessly blends the glamour and history of New Orleans with cutting-edge amenities, making it a unique destination for business or pleasure and for tourists and locals alike. Its story begins in 1893, when German immigrant Louis Grunewald opened a new hotel on Baronne Street in the Central Business District. He called it The Hotel Grunewald. For its time, the Grunewald was considered cutting-edge. Standing six stories tall, it had elevators, electricity, 60 baths and 250 guest rooms. The 1894 Book of the Chamber of Commerce described it as “first-class in every respect; and it has been crowded from the start.”
1920s New Orleans saw the city’s skyline transformed by the construction of numerous high-rises. The Vaccaro brothers followed the prevailing trends and demolished the hotel’s original structure. They rebranded the newly constructed 16-floor tower as the Roosevelt Hotel, in honor of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The Roosevelt passed into new ownership once again in 1934 when it was purchased by Seymour Weiss. This new owner’s friendship with Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long is said to have contributed to his rapid rising in the ranks of hotel staff; in just over ten years, he had progressed from his initial role in the
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The Rooftop Pool
barber shop to assistant manager, to general manager and then to business partner. Once he assumed principal ownership of the hotel, business flourished and the Roosevelt’s legendary reputation as “The Grand Dame of the South” was established. The hotel’s performance venue, the Blue Room, opened in 1935 and would host luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Marelene Dietrich and Jimmy Durante. It also became a popular spot for supper clubs and floorshows. With gleaming chandeliers and carefully restored architectural details, the Blue Room still offers live entertainment that appeals to all ages. It was not until 1939 that Weiss replaced the long-closed The Cave with a new bar
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called the Sazerac Bar. The bar itself was (and still is) made of mahogany and surrounded by walnut-paneled walls. It featured an Art Deco-style mural by Paul Ninas that has been since been restored, reminding present-day patrons of the bar’s colorful past. The Sazerac Bar still serves its signature Sazerac cocktail and Ramos Gin Fizz — both invented in New Orleans and made popular worldwide by The Roosevelt — among other delights. Eagle-eyed guests might notice a bullet hole in the wall of the Sazerac Bar. Local legend holds that the hole was caused when the gun of one of Huey P. Long’s bodyguards accidentally went off. Governor Long was a frequent patron of the Sazerac Bar and is said to have kept the Deduct Box
in his suite. The hotel captured the imagination of artists and writers. In Walker Percy’s New Orleans-set 1961 novel The Moviegoer, named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923-2005, the book’s protagonist waxes rhapsodic over dinner and dancing at the Blue Room. The Roosevelt would also serve as the inspiration for the St. Gregory Hotel in Arthur Hailey’s 1965 novel, The Hotel. It would be adapted into a 1967 film with Karl Malden and a 1983 TV series produced by Aaron Spelling and starring James Brolin that lasted five years. In addition to inspiring writers, the Roosevelt broadcasted music and news around the world for approximately 40 years starting
in 1932, when WWL-AM radio relocated from Loyola University of New Orleans to the hotel. Programming included the hotel’s orchestra performances and a daily news and entertainment program called The Dawnbusters. Big band fans worldwide will warmly recall turning to WWL radio at night and hearing the sounds of the Leon Kelner Orchestra, the house band, live from the Blue Room Supper Club. The station’s strong signal meant it could be heard around the world. During World War II, homesick New Orleans soldiers listened to WWL to feel connected to their hometown. One soldier picked up the signal all the way from a ship in the Pacific Ocean. The Fairmont
In 1965, Benjamin and Richard Swig purchased the hotel for the Fairmont
Hotel chain. The name was changed to the Fairmont-Roosevelt, then eventually to the Fairmont New Orleans. The new owners put their own stamp on the hotel. They installed carpeting, modern furniture and new lighting. In 1987, as the hotel neared its 100th birthday, the Fairmont refurbished its rooms and lobby, aiming for an old New Orleans feel in the lobby while painting rooms and suites muted blue and peach colors. The hotel’s signature awnings were replaced by solid gray canopies with the Fairmont logo on them. One of the most popular parts of the Fairmont era was the hotel’s Christmas display. Cotton fibers covered the lobby ceiling, creating the appearance of fluffy winter clouds. Christmas trees and lights lined the walkway. The holiday tradition would continue after the Fairmont became the Roosevelt once more.
The new Christmas display lost the clouds and added lights, giving it a more open feel. The Post-Katrina Rebirth
Like many buildings in the Greater New Orleans Area, the Fairmont New Orleans sustained damage during Hurricane Katrina. Structurally, the building stood tall amidst the devastating wind and water. However, the basement, which housed mechanical and kitchen equipment for the hotel, flooded. That meant no air conditioning or heating, among other issues. In 2007, First Class Hotels purchased the Fairmont New Orleans for $17 million. The hotel would be re-christened the Roosevelt and converted into one of Hilton’s premier brand hotels, Waldorf Astoria. To bear the Waldorf Astoria Hotel name,
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Crescent City Ballroom
The Huey P. Long Executive Boardroom
properties must all bear architectural significance, distinctive décor and original artwork, historic or landmark status and a reputation for product and service excellence. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is among a distinctive group of unique luxury hotels from the Hilton Family of Hotels, each indigenous to its destination and situated in key cities around the world. Home to world leaders, royalty and society’s elite, the elegant assortment of hotels and
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resorts aims to provide travelers with authentic luxury experiences and unlimited opportunities for discovery. The decision was made to restore the Roosevelt’s aesthetics to those of its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. Every guest room was gutted and redone. During the restoration process, several important discoveries were made. Removing
the carpet in the lobby revealed the old mosaic tile. While the original tile was not able to be adequately preserved, an exact recreation of the tile was installed in the lobby floor. Acoustical ceilings were removed, which uncovered hand-crafted plaster work on the columns at all of the elevator landings. The beautiful coffered ceiling was restored in the coffee shop. The work required long hours and a careful attention to details. Roosevelt visitors often gaze in awe at the sparkling chandeliers. During the renovation, each crystal of each chandelier was cleaned by hand by a single man working in The Blue Room. For eight hours a day for over a year, his job was to clean chandelier crystals and re-string the broken ones. Because smoking was allowed in the hotel for most of its existence, there was a lot of tar and nicotine to be removed from the chandeliers. A new addition to the lobby was “The Paris Exhibition Clock,” also known as “The Mystery Lady Timepiece,” a combination statue and timepiece built by clockmaker E. Farcot and sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier de Belleuse around 1867. This timepiece was featured in the Paris Exhibition of 1867, and displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, which was part of the third Paris World’s Fair, held to celebrate the recovery of France after the crushing defeat of the 1870 FrancoPrussian War. All Waldorf Astoria hotels feature a historic clock in their lobbies, dating back to the first Waldorf Astoria in New York City where the clock served as a meeting place for guests and locals alike. In the Roosevelt, “The Paris Exhibition Clock” stands nearly 10 feet tall and features a base made of solid onyx marble. A bronze statue of a woman stands on the base holding a rotating scepter aloft. It is a conical pendulum clock and the largest known conical clock in the world. Working conical clocks are rare, esteemed
for their accuracy and engineering, and highly valuable. “This clock is really a gift from The Roosevelt New Orleans to the community,” said Chambers. “It signals to arriving visitors the luxury that marks all Waldorf Astoria hotels. It also [serves] as a gathering point for locals. The clock must be wound by hand every eight days, so we even expect that to generate excitement.” Much as the lobby is a popular destination for families during the holidays, The Roosevelt’s restored ballrooms are popular destinations for businesses year-round. The ballrooms represent the history of grandeur of New Orleans. Tastefully decorated, they serve as luxurious locations for special events. The Roosevelt Ballroom, the most expansive and glamorous of the three ballrooms, has a unique feature: “air walls,” which quickly and seamlessly convert the room into five smaller spaces to accommodate meetings of various sizes, from a small gathering to a lavish, romantic wedding reception. Gorgeous chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, dripping with crystal and creating soft, shimmering light throughout the room. The Crescent City Ballroom features numerous layout options, including a banquet configuration for up to 700 people,
a schoolroom design with tables and chairs for 527, and a theater style for up to 1,227. The Waldorf Astoria Ballroom is the ideal location for anything from a romantic, intimate wedding reception to a small to mid-sized conference. The room features 6,930 square feet of space and 13-foot ceilings, as well as the same five-star service available to all guests of The Roosevelt. Moving Forward
The Roosevelt re-opened its doors on July 1, 2009, making 2019 not just an anniversary of the hotel’s birth, but an anniversary of its rebirth. But it has no plans to rest on its laurels as it celebrates its 125th anniversary. After a full meeting space renovation in the summer of 2018, all 504 guest rooms will be reimagined in 2019. Chambers said the hotel strives to maintain its classic feel while still being relevant in the modern era. Over the summer of 2019, each guest room will be redone in stages so the hotel can remain open during that time period. The famous high ceilings will remain, but the carpets, curtains, and walls will feature lighter colors. The beds will be all white. The renovations will give the rooms and suites a brighter, airier feel. “We plan to respect the Roosevelt’s historic past,” Chambers said, “while looking forward to its bright future.” RR
The Roosevelt Review magazine is an elegant and entertaining guide to the hotel. The magazine is published by Renaissance Publishing LLC, also known for New Orleans Magazine, St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, New Orleans Bride, Acadiana Profile and Biz New Orleans. Renaissance Publishing also generates daily content for visitors and locals on its website, myneworleans.com. “All of our titles bring New Orleans’ culture to life. The Roosevelt Review is a natural fit alongside our other publications,” says Todd Matherne, CEO of Renaissance Publishing. The publication tells stories — old and new — of the iconic hotel and what it means to the city. The design reflects the classic format of the original publication from the 1940s and ’50s with a modern twist — just like the hotel itself.
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sophisticated souvenirs Gorgeous gifts for yourself and others at The Emporium
Alexa Pultzer, Mignon Faget and Heidi Groat, legendary icons in the New Orleans area for their artistic abilities.
SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS
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Niven Morgan customizes fragrance for the Roosevelt Hotel. Mary Frances and Mud Pie are just two of the distinctive vendors whose merchandise we carry in our Emporium Gift Shop.
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Landmark Ornamentâ€™s custom made Roosevelt Hotel ornament from Poland.
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Sippin’ at the Sazerac For an atmosphere of sophistication and old-world charm, visitors and locals still flock to the Sazerac Bar after 125 Years
Time travel is not yet possible, but anyone looking for a feeling of 1930s and 1940s elegance can do no better than the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt New Orleans. It’s a bar full of old-world elegance - Art Deco light fixtures, club chairs, wood paneling, shadowed spaces and stunning wall-length murals by local artist Paul Ninas depicting New Orleans in the 1930s. But its charm and
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by Fritz Esker
grace are timeless, which is why CNN.com recently listed it as one of the world’s 30 best hotel bars and USA Today named it the #1 hotel bar in America in 2018. What’s in a Name?
The Sazerac Bar gets its name from what is considered by many historians to be the oldest true cocktail drink still in common use. The
drink’s signature ingredient is Peychaud’s Bitters (all other ingredients are readily available). The bitters provide herbal essences and citrus flavor, lending the drink its unique kick. The Roosevelt New Orleans established what is now known as the Sazerac Bar in 1938 as a replacement for the popular nightclub The Cave, which had closed in 1923. Roosevelt owner Seymour Weiss purchased the rights
bottomed, thick glass. It is twice as wide at the rim as at the base. The glass design allows the cocktail’s elegant aromas to drift to the nose freely, enhancing the sipping experience. Stormin’ the Sazerac
to use the name Sazerac for his hotel bar from the Sazerac Company in 1949, and opened the Sazerac Bar in the space that is now occupied by the Roosevelt Emporium Gift Shop. In 1958, Weiss shut down the Sazerac Bar on Baronne Street and the name moved to the inside bar, and the name has stuck ever since. Drink Your Medicine
Peychaud’s bitters came from Antoine Amadie Peychaud, who immigrated to New Orleans in 1795 from Haiti with his family after a
slave uprising. The family embraced their new city and prospered in it. Peychaud opened Pharmacie Peychaud, and by 1838 he was locally famous for an ailment remedy made with mixed brandy or cognac, Louisiana sugar syrup and his secret formula bitters, which would eventually bear his name. He would serve his concoction in a cup known as a coquetier, which was mainly used to serve eggs. While many people will use an Old Fashioned glass to serve a Sazerac, the Sazerac Bar exclusively uses the original 8-ounce, heavy-
As The Roosevelt New Orleans celebrates its 125th anniversary, Stormin’ the Sazerac, one of the most important events in the hotel’s history, approaches its 70th anniversary. For many years, the Sazerac Bar only served women on Mardi Gras Day. After the Sazerac Bar moved onto Baronne Street, Weiss invited women to patronize “The New Sazerac Bar,” and on Sept. 26, 1949, a courageous group of New Orleans ladies stormed the bar, demanding equality and a stiff drink. After that event, women were welcome, and their acceptance began to be custom throughout the city Each year, the Sazerac Bar celebrates these women with its Stormin’ the Sazerac event. There is a three-course lunch, a fashion show, live entertainment and the recognition of the Spirit of the Sazerac, a local woman whose bravery and determination challenges the status quo. In 2018, legendary WDSU meteorologist Margaret Orr reigned as Spirit of the Sazerac. The festivities take place in the world-famous Blue Room, elegant Fountain lounge, and, of course, the Sazerac Bar. It all culminates with attendees storming the Sazerac once again in a second line. To properly honor the original “Stormin,’” participants are always encouraged to dress in late 40s and early 50s attire including hats, veils, peep-toe shoes, and gloves. Continuity and Intimacy
Today, the Sazerac Bar still resonates with visitors because it has stayed true to its roots. The setting, with plush banquettes and elegant barstools, is intimate without being cramped. It encourages mingling and conversation without forcing the issue. The wait staff is top-notch, and some have worked in the bar for decades. The result is an unforgettable experience. RR
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The Fountain Lounge Combining old-world glamour and contemporary creole cuisine
Whether you’re in the mood to sip an icy cocktail while listening to live jazz music or sit down for a sumptuous three-course meal prepared by a world-class chef, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Roosevelt’s historic Fountain Lounge. The classic elegance of the Fountain Lounge, which opened in 1938, transports guests to a time when women and gentlemen donned fancy attire for a night on the town.
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By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur
The dimly lit room, located near the hotel’s glitzy lobby and the famous Sazerac Bar, features wooden floors and cozy, cognaccolored leather chairs situated around small round tables, where small groups can enjoy intimate conversations. Other classic finishes include dining chairs upholstered in rich fabrics, candle chandeliers and a handsome bar with illuminated, glass open-shelves lined with a colorful assortment of top-notch liquors.
Guests can enjoy inspired, Creole cuisine with a contemporary flair throughout the day. During breakfast, they can customize their Eggs Benedict or Eggs Sardou with lump crabmeat, crawfish tails and several types of creamy hollandaise sauce. “That’s fun and interactive,” said chef Jason Schneider, who became the executive chef of The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel in July of 2018.
Chef Jason Schneider
Guests can also peruse the breakfast buffet and fill their plate with sweet and savory morning delicacies, or build their own eggs benedict using their favorite fresh ingredients. The lunch menu offers New Orleans classics, like shrimp remoulade and crawfish bread, along with more modern dishes and the famous Waldorf spinach salad with apples, grapes, candied walnuts and honey yogurt. If you have room for dessert, try the Roosevelt angel food cake — it’s simply divine. Since his arrival at the Roosevelt Hotel, chef Schneider has revamped the Fountain Lounge’s dinner menu. He described it as Creole with “interesting twists” and nods
to some of the city’s ethnic communities. For instance, a large Vietnamese population resides in New Orleans, so Schneider will serve his interpretation of the beloved bánh mì sandwich — a staple at Vietnamese restaurants throughout the city. “With everything we do, we try to interpret it in a modern way. It’s like Creole (cuisine) with a modern twist,” said Schneider. The Fountain Lounge also offers a pre-theatre menu. Guests can dine on smoked chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo, chargrilled steak with asparagus and Russian potatoes covered with sauce béarnaise, and finish it off with a crème
Chef Jason Schneider is no stranger to cooking haute cuisine in luxury hotels. In the early 2000s, he honed his culinary skills as a chef and kitchen manager at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. Since then, he’s worked in Ritz-Carlton hotels in Cancun, Mexico and Miami, along with high-end Hilton and Waldorf Astoria establishments. He even served as the executive sous chef in the Roosevelt New Orleans, from 2009 through 2012. Schneider’s career has even taken him to countries around the world, from Italy to Japan and Thailand. When he traveled to Bangkok in 2010, he cooked for Thai royalty during a gala dinner. He prepared barbecued lobster tail and creamy grits, imbued with both New Orleans and south Asian flavors. Schneider said each of these experiences abroad have influenced his cooking in different ways. “When our guests come to the Fountain Lounge, they have an expectation to taste local cuisine, but there are so many places (in New Orleans) that do that,” he said. “What I’m going to do is incorporate some different techniques, and just put a different spin on it, so that it’s a little more interesting than your typical Creole food.” Returning to the Roosevelt New Orleans was a smooth transition for Schneider. “I’m happy to see a lot of familiar faces,” Schneider said. “I still have good working relationships with a lot of people that were here.” He also knows the local food vendors, which makes it easy to source fresh ingredients for his kitchen. Schneider does note that the hotel’s food and beverage program has expanded, along with its clientele. Even the challenges and busy moments in the kitchen are a good thing to chef Schneider because they demonstrate that his staff can handle any pressure. “I have a strong team that I can rely on,” he said. “It was heart-warming to come back, and for people to be excited to see me,” said Schneider, adding that he must have made a good impression on his colleagues. “I didn’t see anybody’s eyes rolling when I came back.”
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brûlée before dashing to the Saenger Theatre for a Broadway production. If you’re visiting during the holidays, be sure to ask about the Fountain Lounge’s réveillon dinner — a New Orleans Christmas-time culinary tradition. On Mondays, chef Carl Cushenberry prepares his fried chicken — a hotel food favorite for more than four decades — along with traditional side dishes. The Fountain Lounge offers classic New Orleans cocktails, like the Sazerac and the frothy Ramos Gin Fizz — both invented in the Crescent City — along with a robust wine list, and draft and bottled beers from both regional and international breweries. On most nights, live jazz, soul and blues music from world-class musicians — many of them born and bred in New Orleans — will provide the perfect backdrop to your dining experience, one that’s unlike any other you’ll experience in this enchanting city. RR
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Satiate Your Sweet Tooth Teddy’s Cafe celebrates the Roosevelt’s 125th anniversary with a pink champagne cupcake
Located just off the Roosevelt’s Grand Lobby is the delightful and delicious Teddy’s Cafe, a welcoming destination for all sweet-toothed guests from morning ‘till night. Open 6 a.m. - 8 p.m., Teddy’s offers grab-and-go options, as well as dine-in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to local favorites like café au lait and beignets, visitors can
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by Alexa Harrison
also enjoy a cup of signature Roosevelt blend PJ’s coffee, or indulge in a glass of one of the cafe’s featured wines and champagnes. Fresh baked pastries are also made daily, including the signature Waldorf Astoria Classic Red Velvet Cake, Steen’s Bacon Sticky Buns, Almond Brioche Toast or Fresh Fruit Tarts. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the hotel,
Teddy’s will also feature a Pink Champagne Cupcake packaged with the anniversary logo all year long. New grab-and-go provisions like the Smokehouse Salmon Platter, Curry Chicken Salad Wrap or Turkey Club Wrap offer a quick and healthy option. Enjoy a taste of NOLA with Big Easy favorites like Smoked Chicken Gumbo or
Chef Deborah Heyd Teddy’s Pastry Chef celebrates her 10-year anniversary
Creole Turtle Soup. Hungry for something more? The Roosevelt Reuben, Teddy’s Burger, or the New Orleans Style Muffuletta are great for splitting or following a long day of touristing. For an après dîner snack, indulge in French Fries with Garlic Aioli or Loaded Cheese Fries with Bacon. In addition to the year-round menu, Pastry Chef Deborah Heyd features a monthly dessert special. The pastry team works to create seasonal items, whether based on a holiday, the produce or flavors
of the season. In September, for example, Teddy’s theme is “back to school,” so Chef Heyd created one of her favorite desserts — the Apple Cider Mousse. “We will definitely continue to push the envelope with special flavor combinations all year long,” said Chef Heyd. “We are trying to add items that you can take home to remember us by, and maybe to brag a little about where you stayed, too.” Stop in before departing to make your last taste of the Roosevelt Hotel and New Orleans a sweet one. RR
Not only is 2019 the 125th anniversary of the Roosevelt Hotel, it’s also Teddy’s Pastry Chef Deborah Heyd’s 10-year anniversary with the hotel. Ms. Heyd caters more than 30 weddings a year at the hotel, prepares Sunday brunch weekly, serves five outlets within the hotel (including Teddy’s, which has a showcase that changes throughout the day) and hosts regular events in 60,000 square feet of banquet space. “I really can’t believe that it will be my 10-year anniversary,” said Heyd. “To have that go along with the 125th anniversary is quite a highlight in itself.” To celebrate, Heyd said she’ll probably do what she does best: bake a giant cake. “I think the best part of being here for so long is having that continual interaction with familiar guests like the brides and grooms or the families that have come back. It’s fun to create the Gingerbread House and see and chat with the same people each year,” Heyd said. “I think all of those special moments are my highlights. It’s not about the awards won, it’s about the memories I continue to create for families.” A few years into her career at the Roosevelt Hotel, Heyd was sent to another shop for training — an experience she said really opened her eyes. “I came back with a whole new passion and drive to create desserts that were modern and delicious.” That drive and passion has continued to grow over the last 10 years for Ms. Heyd, and visitors just can’t get enough of her sweet treats. Stop by Teddy’s to see what sort of creative confections she has baked today, and take home a little slice of NOLA’s finest.
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the suite life
Luxe rooms with a view fit for royalty
The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf
Astoria Hotel offers special accommodations for guests looking to enjoy the most elegant living surroundings in New Orleans, entertain friends or clients in such a setting or a little bit of both. Five different sets of luxury suites — totaling 125 in number — are available to guests of The Roosevelt, including the King Suites, Luxury Suites, Waldorf Suites, Astoria Suites and Presidential Suites. The hotel’s suites blend the glamour and the history of the Crescent City with cutting-
26 THE Roosevelt Review
by les east
edge, 21st-century, luxurious amenities for vacationers and working businesspeople. Many of the King Suites include bay windows with wonderful views of landmarks in historic Downtown New Orleans. Feel the pulse of this great American city from the comfort of your suite. Each suite provides expansive size and ceiling height consistent with a residential environment. Relax in the king-sized bed and enjoy two 42-inch flat-screen TVs, chair and ottoman, writing desk, alarm clock with MP3
connection, mini bar, in-room safe, two-line phones with voicemail, iron and ironing board and bathrobes. Pamper yourself in the elegantly appointed bathroom, with multi-jet shower and luxury bath amenities, including a flat-screen television. Each King Suite also includes luxury linens with down-filled comforters, five custom pillows, 300-thread count sheets and duvet cover, along with custom decorative bed throws fit for a king. Though numerous five-star restaurants
The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Suite
surround The Roosevelt, representing the best cuisine New Orleans has to offer, you don’t ever have to leave your bed to enjoy a taste of the Crescent City’s finest. Indulge with 24-hour, in-room dining service, offering many New Orleans favorites. The Luxury Suites have the same immediate sense of arrival the King Suites provide, as well as many of the same amenities. The Luxury Suites have spacious parlor dimensions for entertaining clients, conducting business meetings or simply relaxing. Each Luxury Suite also has a familiar residential environment, including two bathrooms, two 42-inch, flat-screen televisions, chair and ottoman, writing desk, alarm clock with MP3 connection, mini bar, in-room safe, two-line phones with voicemail, iron and ironing board and bathrobes. Also available in the Luxury Suites is the 24-hour in-room dining service. Pamper
yourself in the elegant bathrooms with the same amenities as the King Suites. The Waldorf Suites are ideal for receptions or gatherings of up to 50 people. The parlor has a dining room, wet bar and expansive seating area. The bedroom features one king-sized bed and is separated by French doors. This comfortable suite setting is perfect for small family or business gatherings, with all of the luxury amenities found in other guestrooms. The Astoria Suites offer a minimum of 1,400 square feet, bay windows and separate check-in services. Take advantage of these separate check-in services and be greeted with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries as you arrive in your suite. The three Presidential Suites were designed with President Theodore Roosevelt, Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long and legendary New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong in mind,
all of whom frequented The Roosevelt, much like other world-famous personalities. Luxuriate in special services, such as champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, preferred reservations in chef John Besh’s world-renowned Domenica, luxury linens, two 42-inch, flat-screen TVs, terrycloth bathrobes and slippers, refrigerator and wet bar and personal check-in services. The Theodore Roosevelt and Huey P. Long Suites both reflect the storied history of the hotel and feature memorabilia related to the legendary political leaders. The Louis Armstrong Suite reflects the musical legend himself in his native New Orleans. The King, Luxury, Waldorf, Astoria and Presidential Suites offer the best of what dignitaries have come to The Roosevelt to enjoy in each of the last three centuries. RR
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A Luxurious Escape
Relax and recharge in the Waldorf Astoria Spa
Looking for a space to recharge
after a long day of strolling through the French Quarter? The Waldorf Astoria Spa offers an escape like no other. A tranquil and transformative environment, the spa provides a variety of services from couple’s massages to citrus essence facials and organic French clay detox wraps.
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by Alexa Harrison
With a soothing, modern design, 10 private treatment rooms, a couple’s therapy suite, VIP treatment room, hydrotherapy facilities, full-service salon, makeup services and a calming lounge, the spa is a prime pampering destination for hotel guests, other travelers and locals alike. The spa is consistently adding new services
to their already robust menu of options. “This year we added Cupping Massages to the menu,” said Spa Director Jill Haidler. “Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative massage in which a therapist puts special cups on the skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, blood
This is just a sampling of the many services offered at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Massage Therapies WALDORF ASTORIA SIGNATURE MASSAGE 80 min 50 min REFLEXOLOGY 25 min 50 min FOUR HANDED MASSAGE 80 min Facial Therapies HYDRAFACIAL® 80 min 50 min 25 min Intense Hydration 50 min Connon Softness 50 min Papaya Purity 50 min Lisse Supreme 50 min Organic Super Sensitive 50 min Organic Gentlemen’s 50 min Organic Ocean Express 30 min
flow, relaxation and wellbeing.” Other services include the Diamond Rose Ritual, one of the most popular services. A delicate exfoliation using damask rose and diamond dust, this is a luxurious and romantic ritual with outstanding restorative effects that provides dramatic results on the skin. For the weary tourist looking to rest their feet, the Reflexology Massage is a perfect option. This massage uses specific pressure points on the foot to relieve pain, restore balance and improve circulation. New products at the spa include the Natura Bissé skin and body products. A line of products from Barcelona, Spain, Natura Bissé received the Art Bodega Beauty Award in 2016 and is the only skin and body line that has received the Forbes 5-star rating. During your time at the spa, the expert staff will cater to your needs
while also allowing you the time and space to relax and rejuvenate. There are few things more decadent in the city of decadence than putting yourself in the hands of a talented and experienced massage therapist, pedicurist or aesthetician at the Waldorf Astoria Spa to melt away the stress of the day. The Spa is complete with men’s and women’s locker areas, plush robes and comfortable slippers, complimentary drinks, fruit and snacks — with so many different options on the menu, making a day of it is easy to do. Commit to regular restoration with a monthly treatment membership program that reserves exclusive treatments at an exceptional value. Unlike other memberships, The Spa Club grants you access to on-premise fitness and spa amenities on the day of your treatment, in addition to a list of other property perks, including
Body Therapies DETOXIFYING SEAWEED POLISH & WRAP 110 min SUN UNDONE 50 min THE PERFECT BODY 80 min Hand & Foot Therapies WALDORF SIGNATURE MANICURE 80 min Classic Manicure 50 min Mom and Me Manicures 30 min WALDORF SIGNATURE PEDICURE 80 min Classic Pedicure 50 min Mom and Me Pedicures 50 min Shampoo & Style THE Roosevelt Review 29
unlimited access to the exclusive rooftop pool. During the winter months, exfoliate dead, dry skin with the 50-minute Natural Skin Recovery Water Lily Facial. Expecting guests can find comfort in a prenatal massage, helping to alleviate discomfort in the areas most in need of attention during pregnancy. Meanwhile, male guests can enjoy a Gentlemen’s Focus Facial, combining plant extracts, minerals and papaya enzymes to decongest pores and balance skin tone. In town for a Mardi Gras ball, wedding, or other event? The full-service salon is at your disposal for facial and body waxing, makeup application, airbrush tanning and hair styling services. Brides can also book makeup consultations, featuring premier products by the celebrated Louisiana-born makeup artist, photographer and author, the late Kevyn Aucoin. And for that sun-kissed, vacation glow, get the Fantasy Tan, which is one of the best sunless tanning systems on the market. A unique aspect of all Waldorf Astoria spas is the way local ingredients are integrated into your spa experience. Fruits, plants and minerals with a traditional history of soothing or healing properties are often used. Here in the New Orleans-based Waldorf Astoria Spa, strawberries are often used — established as the official state fruit of Louisiana in 2001. “The health-and-wellness industry is a billion dollar industry,” said Haidler. “The consumer is well-educated and willing to spend on things that make them feel good inside and out.” The Waldorf Astoria Spa in New Orleans embodies its world-wide reputation for consistent standards of excellence, ensuring that patrons leave feeling good emotionally and physically. Once your spa treatment is complete, sink into a comfortable lounge chair, sip a complimentary glass of champagne, and listen to soothing music in the relaxation lounge — the perfect end to a perfect spa day. RR
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Eat, Drink and Dance A quick glance at some of what New Orleans has to offer By Emily Andr as
The Roosevelt is a century-old
institution at the heart of one of America’s oldest cities. The hotel has witnessed more than a century of city history — which makes it an ideal location for visitors and locals alike to begin a journey to understand and see more of New Orleans’ history, nightlife, music, events and food. There are the well-known standbys — Mardi Gras,
cheryl gerber photographs
Jazz Fest, the New Orleans Museum of Art, jambalaya, beignets at Café du Monde, alligators and pralines — and they’re well-known because they’re well-loved. But the Roosevelt is immersed in New Orleans and steeped in the culture, which allows it to bring its guests directly to the local beating heart of the city.
By virtue of existing, in one form or another, since 1893, the Roosevelt has experienced a large part of the history of New Orleans. The hotel was a favorite of Huey Long’s, as well as presidents and celebrities. Consequently, the hotel has a strong passion for the history of New Orleans. The National World War II Museum is a spectacular temple to history, as
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is the Historic New Orleans Collection, which boasts four different locations. Little visitors (and their grown-ups) will love exploring New Orleans’ history and some local culture at the Louisiana Children’s Museum; for families with older kids, the Audubon Nature Institute, which includes the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, is a can’t-miss part of the city. For a real taste of local culture, the Backstreet Cultural Museum holds collections memorializing Mardi Gras celebrations past. NIGHTLIFE
When the Roosevelt was still the Grunewald, it held a star venue for the 1900s New Orleans: The Cave. Designed to imitate a subterranean cave, performers took the stage surrounded by waterfalls and stalactites. They played to packed houses, locals and tourists alike out for a night on the town. Although The Cave remains only in memory, the Roosevelt is still in an ideal spot for memorable local nightlife. Aside from the conveniently-located Sazerac Bar and The Fountain Lounge, those looking for a dance club can find places to move and groove at The Metropolitan or the Chris Owens Club. For those looking for a more laid-back evening,
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try the Howlin’ Wolf for some blues, jazz, and cabaret. And for guests willing to take a cab (or a streetcar!), Oak Wine Bar brings creative cocktails, a vast wine selection and, of course, live music.
In New Orleans, where there’s bars, there’s music. The Roosevelt has a long history with musical performances and guests — these halls have housed Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and countless more. A classic choice for any visitor or resident is Pat O’Brien’s, the home of the Hurricane and a rollicking piano lounge. It’s a quick hop, skip and jump over to Preservation Hall for some legendary New Orleans jazz — or if you’re more inclined to explore Latin, the blues, or some other genre, you can certainly find it in the clubs and on the sidewalks of Frenchman Street. If you don’t mind a little bit of a ride, Tipitina’s is packed with locals and tourists alike. (We particularly recommend stopping in to catch a fais do-do and experience a bit of Cajun culture.)
smaller, more local festivals can have just as big an impact. The Allstate Sugar Bowl is an annual tradition in the city, bringing together football teams from all over the country to compete in the Superdome. French Quarter Festival, held every April, is a favorite for residents, grown-ups and kids alike; the New Orleans Oyster Festival, held in June, will astound even the most avid eater. Music fans will want to check out Satchmo Summer Fest (August), which brings jazz, brass, food and even the local delicacy of the snowball together for festing heaven. One tradition for the Roosevelt in particular is The Storming of The Sazerac, an annual affair where women in 1940s attire gather to storm the Sazerac Bar the same way the women of New Orleans did in 1949, when the hotel’s general manager announced that the bar would at last be open to women year-round. Of course, Christmas is a magic time in New Orleans, but this is especially true at the Roosevelt. Whether it’s a child attending their first (or third) Teddy Bear Tea or an adult struck with child-like wonder at the block-long lobby’s fantastical Christmas display, the air is electric.
New Orleans is famous for larger festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations — but the city’s
Of course, in New Orleans, it all comes back around to the food. Going out drinking? Don’t
Cafe du Monde
advice from the Concierge Personal favorite local festival or event? I think it probably has to be French Quarter Fest; it happens when the weather is nice, you can’t beat the free admission, and it’s all local-oriented. It’s New Orleans at its best. And it fits my motto, which is “eat, drink and dance.” Frequent unknown guest suggestion? One of the secret things I love to tell people about is Super Sunday [a day typically coinciding with Super Bowl Sunday, during which Mardi Gras Indian tribes lead colorful processions through city neighborhoods]. I think that that’s one of the greatest things going on in New Orleans. It’s so local and so appreciated but it’s just not well-known by tourists in general. Visually it’s fantastic, and culturally it’s completely unique.
forget to enjoy a legendary Port of Call burger, a Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House, or cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75 (before or after dinner at Arnaud’s itself). Shopping down at the Riverwalk, or in the historic French Market? No way you’ll be able to resist Mother’s for their baked ham, Café Amelie for their gorgeous courtyard and Creole fare, or Antoine’s…everything. But if somehow none of that sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, don’t worry — there are a thousand options. New Orleans is home to more than 1,200 restaurants. So if Herbsaint, Cochon, Compere Lapin or Peche aren’t for you, try Galatoire’s or Brennan’s. Hanging around uptown? If you’re not feeling Commander’s Palace, La Petite Grocery or Gautreau’s, you can check out
Vincent’s, Casamento’s, or Jamila’s Mediterranean. Mid-City offers up Parkway Bakery and Tavern, Toup’s Meatery, Café Degas and Liuzza’s. (Oh, and don’t forget to get a legendary cannoli and a cup of gelato at Angelo Brocato’s.) If you’re not sure? Ask your friendly Roosevelt concierge — and if you’re out and about and need advice, don’t be afraid to ask a local. At the end of the day, it’s impossible to segment New Orleans out into categories. The history creates the food, which bleeds into drinks, which blend into music, which lead into events and festivals, which celebrate and lift up history and food all over again. So now that you’re here, don’t worry: there aren’t any wrong choices for a day spent in the city. RR
Flexibility in recommendations? I like to get visitors out to the local neighborhood restaurants — I want them to be able to experience my New Orleans. There’s, of course, a lot of room for the classics, but there’s so much more to offer too. If you feel like you don’t fit into a particular crowd, there are venues that cater to everyone, places where they’ll be comfortable. There’s something here for everybody. Most ideal things about the Roosevelt? First, the location. The French Quarter is so close; you can cross Canal and be right in the American sector. Second, we have a great bar absolutely mired in local history, named after an excellent New Orleans cocktail. Third, the spa is just fantastic, a slice of Nirvana here in the hotel — and we have a pool that’s heated in winter and cooled in summer. It’s a great home base if you want to go out and do everything, and it’s also a great place if you just want to stay in. We have a little bit of everything. Favorite part of being a concierge at the Roosevelt? What I just love is that so many people come here, and then when they’re saying goodbye I always like to ask them if we’ve met their expectations as a hotel and as a city. And invariably, I really love this, they say “Yes, absolutely, we can’t wait to be back again.”
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The Blue Room
Entering the elegant golden
doors leading to The Blue Room is like taking a step back into another era. If you listen closely to the sounds of this grand ballroom on the first floor of the The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, you can almost hear the echo of decades past: the sounds of a band striking up a tune, the swish of party gowns, the pouring of martinis neat, the lighting of cigars. All the euphoric and celebratory sounds seem to
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A Sapphire Serenade by Am y Gabriel
be preserved in the soft brocade walls. Much to the delight of those devoted to the venue, The Blue Room, which originally opened on New Yearâ€™s Eve in 1935, was re-invigorated with a significant renovation in 2009. Once again, the historic space is now available to play host to the cityâ€™s most elaborate events, anticipated weddings, private dinners and social gatherings. Wonderfully overstated, with its grand columns, century-old crystal chandeliers,
signature royal blue carpeting and timeless elegance, the ornate ballroom began as a premier destination for the emerging supper club scene. Notable couples, dignitaries, local politicians and societyâ€™s elite would don their most fashionable garb and gather to wine and dine on gourmet delights, swapping stories on current affairs in between spins on the dance floor. The stage that resides in the center of the room has welcomed some of the most famous performers of the 20th century.
Incredible talent such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, Jimmy Durante and Carol Channing has graced that stage. Reaching miles of airwaves past those fortunate enough to attend a star-studded event in person, the historic room was also home base for the radio broadcast “Live from The Blue Room,” which catered to World War II soldiers by way of Armed Forces Radio. From the Leon Kellner Orchestra to the Glenn Miller Orchestra, weekly listeners tuned in to experience the magic of radio wave entertainment. Presently, thanks to the upgrades made to the venue, the entertainment booked, as well as those leading speaking engagements are able to benefit from several noteworthy enhancements. State-of-the-art upgrades to the acoustics and lighting all make for an even more technologically-sound event space. Not just for the cremede-la-creme of the Crescent City culture, there was even a time when the ballroom was transformed to house a skating
rink, making for a whimsical escape from the intense warm weather synonymous with New Orleans. And perhaps the most evocative piece of historic hearsay is that beneath The Blue Room, there was a space called “The Cave,” which many chronicle as the first nightclub in the United States. For years, excited children would flock to The Blue Room, which was festively outfitted in sparkling holiday decor for the Roosevelt’s famous Teddy Bear Teas. Dating back to the 90s, the annual series — which is now held in the Crescent City Ballroom, begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving and features a tea, snack and dessert menu that children of all ages anticipate. From bite-sized sandwiches served on plated tiers, bowls of sugar cubes and giant stuffed animals seated on the chairs to a visit from Santa along with a second line parade, it’s a holiday tradition not to be missed. The Blue Room continues to be part of the lives and memories of guests of The Roosevelt. Now spanning generations of families from great-grandparents to great grandchildren. RR
photo courtesy of the historic new orleans collection
THE Roosevelt Review 35
Jan and Bob Carr
making history The Roosevelt’s beginnings, endings and everything in-between Written by Amanda Orr, Reported by Tim McNally, Carolyn Kolb, Sally Asher and John Magill
There is more documented — as well
as legendary — history about The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel than can be contained in a few pages. The Roosevelt has earned its iconic status in French Quarter history as the place where radio captivated an entire city for the first time, where the
36 THE Roosevelt Review
bartenders were true artisans and everyone from emperors to Hollywood stars insisted on staying when they were in New Orleans. According to legend, it’s the hotel that drove Louisiana governor Huey P. Long to construct a highway so he could more easily commute from Baton Rouge to The Roosevelt. It’s also the hotel that
inspired multiple novelists and in turn, Aaron Spelling, who launched a successful TV series. Beginnings and Prohibition Era
In 1893, Louis Grunewald, a German immigrant, opened The Hotel Grunewald on Baronne Steet, across from the stately dome
and steeples of the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception . The hotel was on the cutting edge of technology and luxury with six floors, elevators, electricity and 60 baths to accommodate 250 guest rooms. The 1894 Book of the Chamber of Commerce called it “first-class in every respect; and it has been crowded from the start.” In 1908 the hotel added on a 14-floor tower, which increased guest accommodations to 400 rooms complete with restaurants, a lounge, and a bar called The Cave. The bar was designed to give patrons the feeling of escaping to secret world with waterfalls, stalactite encrusted walls and statues of gnomes and nymphs. When Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920 The Cave went from serving alcohol to serving soft drinks, but even those tame offerings came to an abrupt and comedic halt in 1922, when the Grain Dealers’ Association conference was held at the hotel. Prohibition agents busted in on rooms 1263 and 1265 to find full bars with 27 barrels of beer and many bottles of Sazerac and Scotch—it took four trucks to haul away the contraband. The following day, a wreath hung on room 1265 with a placard: “DIED. The whole Damn Barley Corn Family ... The remains may be viewed at the home of their tender Uncle Sam. Mourners. Hangovers. Expectant Heirs are invited to attend services.” In early 1923, at the urging of his doctors — and perhaps full of disillusionment after the raid — Theodore Grunewald, the son of the founder, sold the property to the Vacarro brothers; Joseph, Felix and Luca, who immediately started plans for redesigning the hotel. Once the hotel was deemed dry, “Prohibition Agent No. 1” Isadore “Izzy” Einstein and his partner Peter Reager chose to stay at The Roosevelt while in New Orleans. Newspapers announced their arrival, essentially tipping off bootleggers. To remedy this, the men registered under assumed names and disguised themselves as prizefighters, laborers and fruit peddlers. In 10 days during the winter of 1923, they led more than 45
successful raids. Prohibition was repealed in 1933. The Roosevelt and the first radio station in New Orleans
A high-rise boom transformed the New Orleans skyline in the 1920s and the Vacarro brothers joined in on the construction spree by demolishing the original hotel structure and replacing it with an adjacent 16-floor tower, which is where the present day main entrance is located. It was rebranded The Roosevelt Hotel, in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, and as the South’s finest hotel, it had every imaginable amenity. The hotel’s performance venue, the Blue Room, opened in 1935 and has hosted performances by the most sought after musicians and entertainers for decades including Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich and Jimmy Durante. Through the Blue Room, The Roosevelt had an especially far-reaching advertising method attracting guests and performers from the furthest reaches of the world. WWL-AM Radio, founded at Loyola University by Jesuit Priests and New Orleans’ first radio station, moved its operations from the school campus to the hotel in 1932 and remained there for nearly 40 years. As part of the relocation package, WWL agreed to broadcast music from the hotel’s orchestra performances as well as have their radio announcers refer to the station as “WWL Radio, broadcasting from The Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans,” on-air, every 15 minutes. Since WWL was a Clear Channel Station with 50,000 watts of power, the signal could be heard at incredible distances. “We got fan letters from India, England, all sorts of foreign countries. It was amazing how well they could hear the station,” Vince Alletto, former WWL announcer said. There are stories of deployed servicemen who relied on the radio station as a link to their hometown during World War II. “A friend of mine told me he could hear WWL’s Blue Room broadcast in the Pacific. He told me, ‘I almost fell off the
ship,’” Margie O’Dair, former WWL variety performer said. In 1956 the comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin performed in the Blue Room and Picayune reviewer, Sid Myers, predicted they were going “to the top and fast.” The pair’s “Laugh-In” show became the epitome of the next decade’s TV. Bob and Jan Carr, whose brief stint at WWL included hosting a morning show in the Blue Room at The Roosevelt, recall an instance when the station’s wide reach came as an unwelcome surprise. “We interviewed a gentleman who was sitting with his wife, having breakfast. He was kind of gregarious, but the wife seemed like she did not want to be interviewed. We found out later that the man was not with his wife, but [the real wife] did hear the broadcast – in Houston – and it caused their divorce,” Jan Carr said. The Roosevelt, Huey P. Long, and the King
If the Blue Room was the crown of The Roosevelt, the Sazerac Bar was the brilliant crown jewel. The Vacarro brothers set about replacing the long-shuttered Cave bar and opened a new bar in 1939, now known as Sazerac Bar (see sidebar). The bar itself was, and still is, made of mahogany and surrounded by walnut-paneled walls. The original Art Deco-style mural by Paul Ninas has been restored and remains a vivid reminder of the bar’s colorful past. A slight indentation in one of the stone support columns has been preserved, and remains to this day, in the Sazerac Bar. Lodged into this column was a bullet accidently discharged by a bodyguard of Louisiana Governor Huey Long. In those days, the bar was primarily a “men’s only” clubhouse, with women being welcomed only one day a year. Seymour Weiss purchased the hotel from the Vacarro brothers and decided to make the bar co-ed, starting on Sept. 26, 1949. That day, a group of ladies unhappy that the Sazerac was a men-only facility, entered the bar en masse. Forever to be known as “Stormin’ the Sazerac,” they demanded – and received – service and beverages.
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Sazerac 125 To celebrate The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s 125th anniversary its historic in-house bar, The Sazerac Bar, is now serving a commemorative “Sazerac 125” cocktail, offering a few discerning guests and locals a chance to take a sip of history. The “Sazerac 125” features the famed Thomas Handy Rye, named after the New Orleans bartender who was the first to use rye whiskey in the Sazerac cocktails. The Sazerac Bar is proud to include this locally inspired rye whiskey as the base for the “Sazerac 125.” The $125 drink will be sold in limited quantities with only 125 available for sipping, and guests are provided with a keepsake special Sazerac 125th Anniversary glass after purchase.
The cocktail takes the classic New Orleans drink to new heights with a unique recipe: 2 oz Thomas Handy Rye 1/4 oz simple syrup (mixed 1:1) 6 dashes Barrel Aged Peychaud’s Bitters Splash of Herbsaint Legendre.
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Under Weiss’s ownership, The Roosevelt entered its heyday as a cultural center of the South, due in part to the owner’s deep friendship with Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. Both men shared a belief in their city’s future and both stressed New Orleans’ position as a “Gateway to the Americas.” It was also under Weiss’ ownership that music icon Elvis Presley had a chance to enjoy The Roosevelt’s hospitality in 1958. When his movie “King Creole” was filming in the city, Elvis and his entourage stayed on the hotel’s 12th floor for a week. The Fairmont, back to The Roosevelt
The hotel was acquired by the Fairmont chain in the 1960s and its name was changed to reflect that (The Fairmont). It was during the Fairmont era that novelists Walker Percy and Arthur Hailey became entranced by the hotel’s architectural details and stories. Percy’s novel, The Moviegoer, was about Binx Bolling, a young stock broker in postwar New Orleans who is in need of spiritual redemption. The novel won the US National Book Award and Time magazine included the The Moviegoer on its list of “100 Best Englishlanguage Novels from 1923-2005”. “Her idea of happiness is to drive downtown and have supper at the Blue Room of The Roosevelt hotel. This, I am obliged to do from time to time. It is worth it, however. On these occasions Linda becomes as exalted as I am now. Her eyes glow, her lips become moist, and when we dance she brushes her fine long legs against mine. She
actually loves me at these times — and not as a reward for being taken to the Blue Room. She loves me because she feels exalted in this romantic place and not in a movie out in the sticks.” – The Moviegoer The Roosevelt served as the real-life inspiration for Arthur Hailey’s fictional St. Gregory hotel in his 1965 novel, Hotel. The novel was then adapted into a feature-length film in 1967 and Aaron Spelling turned the novel into a successful television series in 1983. The series lasted five years. The hotel once again remained nationally relevant during the Fairmont days, but as so often happens, things go full circle, as the property was converted into one of Hilton’s premium hotels in the Waldorf Astoria Collection and renamed, The Roosevelt in 2009 after a $145 million project to restore its former grandeur after Hurricane Katrina. It was during this restoration that workers were able to uncover decadent details that had been buried by the years, such as hand crafted architectural elements. Carpet was removed in the lobby to reveal the now gleaming mosaic tile that welcomes guests. Though the name of the property has changed several times, providing guests with luxurious accommodations and amenities has remained a constant in the hotel’s history. The Roosevelt, a beacon of luxury in the South, represents a continuation of the story of one of the most historically significant blocks in America’s most historically significant city. RR
Why Sazerac? The Sazerac is considered by most historians to be the oldest true cocktail drink still in common use. Seymour Weiss purchased the rights to use the name Sazerac in his bar’s name from the Sazerac Company in 1949. The key to the drink, since all other ingredients are readily available, is Peychaud’s Bitters. Bitters contain herbal essences and citrus flavor, which causes the liquid to be bitter. Antoine Amadie Peychaud is credited with creating the ultimate ingredient for what has been a 220-year run of good times. Peychaud came to New Orleans in 1795, from Haiti in the West Indies, after fleeing with his family from a slave uprising. At this time, New Orleans was still under Spanish rule, but in true New Orleans fashion, the family was welcomed and prospered. He became an apothecary and opened Pharmacie Peychaud. In 1838 he became locally famous for his ailment remedy consisting of mixed brandy or cognac, Louisiana sugar syrup and his secret formula bitters, now known as Peychaud’s Bitters. He served it in a particular cup known as a coquetier, used primarily to serve eggs. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the drink is the glass used to serve it. Traditionally an old fashioned glass is used but in the Sazerac Bar, at The Roosevelt, the original glass is used exclusively. It is an 8-ounce, heavy-bottomed, thick glass, twice as wide at the rim as at the base. The glass allows the elegant aromas of the cocktail to move into the nose without inhibition, an important part of the sipping experience.
chery l gerber photograph
Sazerac Recipe 1 cube sugar 1 1/2 ounce rye whiskey 1/4 ounce Herbsaint 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters Lemon peel, for garnish Pack an Old Fashioned or Sazerac glass with ice. In a second glass of the same style, place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the rye whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/ bitters/ sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel. Enjoy!
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a Waldorf Wonderland Holiday magic at The Roosevelt by carolyn kolb Paul Broussard photograph
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look out the window onto Common Street and see the giant one in front ment to the Swig family and the of the Sears store.” The Tobiases’ Fairmont chain in the 1960s. (One fifth-floor lodging conveniently quip of the time had it that S-W-I-G featured windows that faced Common stood for “Seymour Weiss is Gone.”) Street. The Roosevelt’s take on the holiday The Roosevelt — and its previous season was certainly noticeable to the population of children who grew up in incarnation The Grunewald — no doubt decorated for the holidays, but the hotel. the first mention of lobby decorations Louisiana State Court of Appeals Judge Max Tobias’ family lived in The in The Roosevelt Review is in the January 1938 issue. In it, there is a Roosevelt. “I came there when I was photograph with the caption, “The born in 1947, and I left while in my Roosevelt lobby as it looked as a second year of college,” he says. The apartment stayed in family hands until Christmas Promenade.” Star-like lights are strung from the ceiling, 2000, after the death of his mother. the chandeliers are lit, and small The Tobias family had a home Christmas trees, decked with lights, in Covington, and spent every line the hall. weekend there, so young Max could The January 1939 issue features a play outside. At The Roosevelt, he remembers, “I had a tricycle. I used to photograph of the lobby decorations, ride it in the hall.” As for pets, he says, which seem to consist of tinsel icicles, “You could keep a bird or a turtle or a large silver bells, greenery and lights. There is a large Christmas tree at the fish; at various times I had all three.” thatched roof hut that served as an Neither Seymour Weiss nor the Tobias family observed Christmas, but entrance to the Hawaiian Blue Room, and the caption notes that “this is the holiday was still marked for them acclaimed by everyone as the most with the hotel’s seasonal decorations. unusual and most beautiful Christmas “I remember they put up a wire decoration ever achieved in the cage, a semi-circular arch from South.” University Place to Baronne Street In January 1941, “Thousands (now Roosevelt Way). They would stuff that with spun glass, and decorate of people thronged The Roosevelt Hotel’s beautiful lobby to see the it with lights and ornaments. They Christmas decorations.” had flocked trees on either side, all “The pattern most New Orleanians the way down, and ornaments and lights on the trees,” Tobias says. “They remember was set in 1949: the Angel Hair ceiling. According to changed it slightly in the early ‘60s. The Roosevelt Review: “Each year this At some point they remodeled the block long lobby is transformed into downstairs, and the display decreased a glistening and beautiful holiday in size and extravagance.” wonderland. Its multicolored ceiling of There was no Santa, “but if you wanted to see a Santa Claus you could Angel Hair and lights are viewed and
A visit to The Roosevelt’s lobby Seymour Weiss sold the establish-
during the holidays has long been a New Orleans tradition. Recalls Gary Baker, who grew up in the city: “That was what we did at Christmas: We went downtown to The Roosevelt to see the decorations, and we would walk through the lobby. Then, we would go see Santa Claus. Afterward we went to dinner at Kolb’s, and a man with an accordion would play for us.” Elsie Martinez, in the 1986 book “Uptown/Downtown: Growing Up in New Orleans” — co-written with Margaret LeCorgne — remembers The Roosevelt lobby during holidays as “completely decked out in Angel Hair like a white cotton candy cocoon.” The hotel lobby has the privacy and splendor of a mansion yet is simultaneously open to the public for strolling. From 1994, through Christmas of 2004, the hotel was outfitted with a white ceiling tufted with fluffy cotton intermingled with sparkling lights. The canopy “was surrounded by elves, angels, toys, Christmas trees and all the other icons of the season,” according to a WWL Radio commentary by Tom Fitzmorris. A Santa sleigh was the perfect backdrop for a holiday photo – and perhaps cookies and hot cider. Gone after Hurricane Katrina, that spectacle returned with embellishments as The Roosevelt reopened. Beginning early in the hotel’s history, families lived in the hotel, though for the most part they left when longtime owner and manager
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photographed by thousands of visitors from far and near.” Thousands of New Orleanians “just drop in to see this magnificent display” according to the monthly publication. It required three working days to complete all the decorations, but “an overnight crew can dismantle it in a matter of hours.” John J. Bryner, chief engineer, supervised the work, but “the idea for decorating The Roosevelt’s lobby each year at Christmas was conceived many years ago by Seymour Weiss, president and managing director of the hotel.” There is a photo of Weiss signing a giant lobby Christmas card. In the photo of the lobby the usual giant silver bells are now hanging from the fluffy white ceiling. In another photo, Oswald Olean, foreman of the paint shop, is shown decorating a flocked white Christmas tree with Bryner. For the 1955 Christmas, according to The Roosevelt Review, “Yuletide is traditionally the season of beauty and gaiety at The Roosevelt. Hotel artisans transform the main lobby into
a breathtaking spectacle of snow, holly green and glittering lights.” Civic Christmas parties, especially those for orphans, also were celebrated at the hotel and it’s where WWL radio and TV station held its “Toys for Tots” party each year. Sadly, the happy holidays were put on hold during the Swig tenure. Marilyn Barnett, who worked in public relations for the hotel during its Fairmont period, acknowledged that the Swigs made changes, including the removal of the fantasy lobby. “I said, ‘That’s a rough thing to do to New Orleans. Those decorations brought people in from all over just to walk up and down,’” Barnett recalls. In spite of those pleas, the old lobby decorations were discarded. Barnett instituted one new holiday tradition: “We would have groups of schoolchildren come to sing carols in the lobby. That was as far as the Fairmont went.” Although the return of the lobby decorations was greeted with glee in 1994, the stuff of magic this time was cotton.
Angel Hair itself is no longer used, since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission deemed the thin glass fibers a skin and gastrointestinal irritant. So why do we New Orleanians remember it so fondly? According to blumchen.com, Angel Hair “enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1940s, when it was used to swath each electric Christmas tree light bulb in puffy clouds of these super-fine glass fibers.” The effect made “the light from the colored bulbs glow through the gleaming puffs of spun glass … like a mini aurora borealis!” This Christmas, the Waldorf Wonderland Lobby will be just as magical as it always was — just as beautiful and much safer. With chandeliers as a focal point, the holiday decor embraces the architectural details that were uncovered through the hotel’s restoration. Revel under the white birch branches with thousands of twinkling lights, accented with a forest of flocked trees. There are also wreaths, gingerbread villages and poinsettias. RR
The Roosevelt’s Teddy Bear Tea features a special tea party with children’s menu items and a traditional tea. Children receive a commemorative Roosevelt Teddy Bear. Plus, storytellers, trumpeters and photos with Santa make this a must-attend yearly event.
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Pho to COURTS EY OF General Pho tographic Agen cy/G etty Images
Huey Long and Friends Hotel’s most famous and infamous guest left lasting impression
by Carolyn Kolb
Huey P. Long was a memorable Louisiana
Governor, U.S. Senator and political character. He was also a faithful patron of The Roosevelt. For years, The Roosevelt Hotel served as Long’s New Orleans business and political headquarters. In fact, Long spent the night before his 1935 assassination in his suite at The Roosevelt, and the evening before he broadcast his last radio address to his people across the state from studios in the hotel. Before he left New Orleans for Baton Rouge on that fateful last afternoon, he played golf with his longtime friend and campaign moneyman Seymour Weiss, The Roosevelt’s owner and manager for many years. Long was intertwined with The Roosevelt in a special relationship, and in a way, the hotel was Long’s real home. Both by his habits and by his nature, Long was a person who felt comfortable living in a hotel, and The Roosevelt suited him very well for years. Before he became a politician, Huey Long was an excitable and gregarious show-off. He liked nothing better than to have the attention of a crowd and was always ready to seek out someone new to captivate. He was a talker, and he managed to make money that way as a traveling salesman. It was a calling that suited him, as he could use his persuasive skills to charm an everchanging audience. It was never a boring job, and it was a good one for Long. Dr. Betty Field has a good overall view of Long and his way of life. She is the author of
“The Campaigns of Huey Long: 1918-1928,” her master’s thesis, and “The Politics of the New Deal in Louisiana,” her doctoral dissertation. She says it’s not surprising he might like living in a hotel: in his working life, Long went all over the state. “You couldn’t travel too far without finding a hotel to stay in, and he really knew the hotel map of Louisiana. And he had contacts at hotels,” she explains. “Hotels were always downtown, in the middle of the business district — not on the outskirts.” While there, Long could meet the local businessmen and merchants, and even entertain them when he could afford it. Hotels were the place for important events and political meetings, and he could attend while there. Some of the hotels might even have impressed him; he was a small town boy, after all. At other establishments, Long might have reason to complain. “On one occasion, while on Railroad Commission business in Natchitoches, he composed a poem about the prevalence of bedbugs at the town’s leading hotel,” Field says in her thesis. “The poem amused his friends and when repeated caught the fancy of his backwoods followers, so Long continued the practice of his bedbug verse. During this campaign, after staying overnight in small town hotels, he was known to issue solemn morning bulletins on the state of ‘Mr. B. Bug’ in that establishment.” When Long was beginning his political career in the 1920s, another small town Louisiana boy
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was starting out, too. Seymour Weiss was a Jewish boy from Avoyelles Parish with little education and had been a shoe salesman in Alexandria. He came to New Orleans seeking work, and eventually headed the barbershop at The Roosevelt. Weiss soon moved up to management; his association with Long helped his career considerably. Whether it was because of their small-town roots, their joint experience in sales or some sense of shared destiny, Weiss and Long became fast friends. Weiss was the ultimate political confidante: Long allowed him to watch over the money, and Weiss made himself into a consummate hotel host. After having his campaign headquarters there and being a frequent guest, Long moved into the 12th-floor suite he would call home until the end of his life. Living in a public place and having a public life meant Long’s personal habits and routines were not often private. Newspaper reporters mentioned his informality, and Dr. Field notes, “you can see photographs of him lying on a bed surrounded by papers with people talking to him.” Long’s tendency to dress as he pleased, even while receiving visitors, occasioned one of his better-known scandalous performances. As T. Harry Williams tells the story in his biography Huey Long, a German Navy ship arrived in town, and its commander, Lothar von Arnauld de la Periere, accompanied by the local German Consul, Rolf Jaegar, went to call on Long. When they arrived, formally dressed, at his Roosevelt suite, Seymour Weiss, wearing a Louisiana militia uniform, greeted them. Then Long came out of his bedroom, clothed in green pajamas, a red and blue robe and blue slippers. After the meeting, an irate Jaegar went to Weiss’ office, protesting that Long had insulted them by his dress. Long, as expected, was unapologetic, but he allowed Weiss to dress him in suitable clothing (even replacing his chosen red tie with a gray one.) Then Long paid a formal call to the German ship. The event was widely reported. In Long’s defense, a visiting Polish Countess told a reporter that Benito Mussolini also wore bedclothes when receiving guests. Long reigned over The Roosevelt entirely. The Atlanta Constitution reported in March of 1931 that he had brought the press with him into the hotel’s kitchen to demonstrate 46 THE Roosevelt Review
the proper method of cooking and eating “pot-likker,” described by the newspaper as “all the juice created by cooking turnip greens and salt meat for several hours.” Long showed his audience how to dunk corn bread in the resulting brew as he “took command of the pot-likker kettle.” Whatever his arrangement with Weiss, Long seems not to have personally paid for his accommodations. Apparently, that was his habit. New York newspapers were surprised when Long announced that he always stayed for free at the New Yorker Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel replied that it was honored to have senators and governors as its guests. Having Huey Long as a guest certainly brought in the crowds. A Long adversary, State Representative Cecil Morgan of New Orleans, later commented, “the anti-Longs were there to see what the pro-Longs were up to and vice versa. If you wanted to have any notion of what was going on, that was the hotel you hung around.” Long could promise a good show. One of his most shocking performances was his 1927 fight with former Governor J.Y. Sanders, which began in the hotel lobby and continued into the elevator, all in front of a crowd of onlookers. The fight began when 60-year-old Sanders called Long a liar. Long responded with a punch and ran toward the elevator with Sanders in pursuit. In spite of efforts to pull the two apart, both men continued the ruckus in the elevator. The same area of The Roosevelt lobby was the scene of a similar fistfight in 1934, when U.S. Senator John Overton and Burt Henry of the Honest Election League got into a brawl involving pro- and anti-Long viewpoints. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that boxer Jack Dempsey was staying at The Roosevelt at the time, commenting, “Too bad I wasn’t present to referee.” Other opportunities for violence never came to pass. Ulic Burke, a district leader of the anti-Long “Old Regulars” (Regular Democratic Organization, known also as the Choctaw Club) left a bullet casing as a “calling card” at Long’s suite, but took no further action. It was also at The Roosevelt during a luncheon of the Young Men’s Business Club that New Orleans Mayor Semmes Walmsley surprised his audience
with his frustration with Long’s methods of campaigning and offered to “choke those words down his cowardly throat.” Luckily that fight never came to fruition. Long’s suite at The Roosevelt was regularly the site of Charity Hospital board meetings. It was at one of those meetings that the board voted to rescind the Charity appointment of Dr. Alton Ochsner, who was at the time on the faculty of the Tulane University School of Medicine. Ochsner’s exclusion lasted two years. There was much friction between Long and his hospital political appointees — including physicians — and the Tulane medical school faculty. This may have been one of the roots of Long’s insistence on having a state medical school in New Orleans. In fact, Long’s suite at The Roosevelt was where the decision was reached to establish the LSU Medical School. A joint meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Charity Hospital Board of Administrators was held there on January 23, 1931. Long presided, and within two hours, the boards completed their deliberations to create the new medical school. The planning and design of Charity Hospital was something in which Long took a great interest, even occasionally visiting with its architect. Enrique Alférez, a sculptor active in New Orleans in the 1930s (whose work is found on Charity Hospital), never had a good relationship with Long, and occasionally the two came to verbal blows when they happened to be in the architect’s office at the same time. As Alférez related the story to Dr. John Salvaggio for his book New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, one evening Alférez was drinking at The Roosevelt hotel bar with the editor and a writer for Long’s own newspaper, the Louisiana Progress. Long, by this time a U.S. Senator, came in to the bar with his entourage. Alférez said something offensive to Long, at which point one of Long’s group members asked Alférez to leave, pointedly bumping into him. Alférez could feel a gun in the waistband of the man, who pulled it out and put it on the bar. A drink was then pushed in front of Alférez and he was told, “Better drink this.” Alférez did, and found that he was slowly sinking to the floor. “I realized immediately that I had been slipped a Mickey Finn (a
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knock-out drug).” As he described it, he managed to crawl through the lobby and out the Baronne Street entrance, where he got into a cab. The next thing he remembered was being in bed at Charity Hospital where a doctor was telling him they had pumped his stomach, and given him an antidote. According to Alférez, Long’s men were so annoyed he had gotten away that they beat up the editor of Long’s own paper. Alférez took artistic revenge when he designed an aluminum mural over the entrance to Charity Hospital. The design shows Louisianians at work (fishermen, trappers, farmers) and at play (golfers, runners, and a baseball player). Alférez included a duck, flying over the baseball player. The flying duck, he explained, was for the government workers. When they knew they were going to have to be making a “contribution” to the deduct box (a regular occurrence in the Long years, when state workers were required to regularly contribute a portion of their salary to his organization), they would cross their wrists and wave their hands. “De ducks” were flying. Alférez put the duck over a baseball player as his own sly commentary, suggesting that after Long’s death, Mayor Robert Maestri, had used money from “deducts” to build Pelican Stadium. Ralph McGill of The Atlanta Constitution was the journalist in charge of covering the aftermath of Long’s escapade in 1935 when 3,000 Louisiana National Guard troops in full military gear occupied New Orleans on Long’s orders. McGill noted that The Roosevelt bar had a radio-controlled signal that automatically opened the door as a customer approached. The door-guarding methods at the voter registration office in New Orleans had been less efficient, and Long’s men had taken over quickly. The troops were called out, and a version of martial law was declared in the city by executive order of Gov. O.K. Allen, in a proclamation written by Long and issued from his suite at The Roosevelt. Safe-guarding voters’ rights and cleaning up corruption were the excuses, but the attack was essentially Long’s revenge on political enemies. During the siege, Long received a New York Times
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reporter in his shirtsleeves. The reporter’s article described Long’s “flailing arms and popping eyes” as he defended his right to take over the city with troops. Garry Boulard’s book on the episode, Huey Long Invades New Orleans, relates that the Long family home suffered a broken window from gunshots during the events. Long does not seem to have brought his family to The Roosevelt suite often. His son – who also became a U.S. Senator – Russell Long, remembered going to a movie with his father at the Orpheum Theater and noticed that the elder Long had snuck out in the dark and went back to the hotel. Even if Mrs. Seymour Weiss made her home there, the Long family does not seem to have. Long used his Roosevelt connections for one of his favorite improvement projects: Louisiana State University. Long enjoyed dancing to the music of The Roosevelt’s orchestra. The orchestra leader was a dapper musician from Costa Rica, who was a graduate of a music conservatory in Spain and had been head of the pit orchestra at the nearby Saenger Theater. His name was Castro Carazo, and he and Long hit it off instantly. Carazo reminisced about Long with his biographer, T. Harry Williams, saying Long preferred sentimental tunes such as “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” “When he was dancing in the Blue Room, and I’d play it, he was in heaven. He would look dreamy and blissful and look at me as if to say ‘thank you’ and dance with his eyes half-closed,” Carazo says. Carazo and Long even collaborated on songs. Once, Carazo was summoned to Long’s suite at the Heidelberg Hotel in Baton Rouge and was asked to write a campaign song. Carazo dashed off a tune in 26 minutes, Long wrote the lyrics in halfan-hour, and the song “Every Man A King” was born. They also wrote “Touchdown for LSU,” and Long brought Carazo to Baton Rouge to direct the university’s band. Carazo began with an 85-member group and built it up to the 240-musician Fighting Tiger Band with Long’s assistance. Reporters would occasionally see Long passing out dollar bills to band members serenading him
in the lobby of The Roosevelt. When not in his suite, Long could be found almost anywhere in the hotel. Bartender Joe Scaffidi of the Blue Room described Long as a regular customer, who “would come into the club every time he stayed at the hotel. Usually he’d have a couple of drinks and talk … He’d talk to anybody who was there.” Elevator operator Charles Palmisano remembered that Long wandered the halls of the hotel at all hours, meeting with politicians in different rooms, sometimes ordering drinks and sandwiches. “He really just wanted someone to talk to,” Palmisano says. Huey P. Long’s death on September 10, 1935, marked the end of an era. In years to come his allies would find themselves in trouble with the federal government, and several of his cronies went to prison. Seymour Weiss was one of them, but in later years he would receive a pardon. He continued operating The Roosevelt until its sale to the Swig family in the 1960s. Russell Long graduated from Fortier High School and went on to LSU. In his campaign for president of the Student Government Association while in college, he called on his father’s old friend Weiss. Russell needed a headliner for an election-eve party. Ted Lewis was appearing at the Blue Room, and Weiss made sure the performer made the trip to Baton Rouge. Russell won the election with 57 percent of the vote. The Roosevelt continued to host political events, candidates’ suites and luncheon meetings, and offered up its bars, restaurants and the Blue Room where deals could be made and information exchanged. On September 22, 1935, shortly after Long’s death, the Washington Post published the following statement from Seymour Weiss: “I have not now nor have I ever had any political ambition nor any desire for political leadership. My interest in politics was due to my personal friendship for Huey P. Long, the best friend I ever had, and in the future I shall devote my efforts to my hotel business.” It was a sincere farewell from a devoted friend.
ramos gin fizz Huey P. Long had a particular affinity for a cocktail perfected and forever associated with the Sazerac Bar. Henry C. Ramos invented the Ramos Gin Fizz in New Orleans in the 1880s. It was such a favorite of the governor’s that once, while on a visit to New York, he could not find one made to his liking. He summoned from the Sazerac Bar his favorite “gin-fizzer,” Sam Guarino, to the New Yorker Hotel. The hotel incorrectly proclaimed to be the home of the Ramos Gin Fizz. Long instructed Guarino to teach the staff how to make the cocktail so he could enjoy a well-made Ramos Gin Fizz whenever he was in Manhattan. Three hours later, the “New York sophisticates,” as Long called them, were drinking an authentic, properly prepared, New Orleans-invented Ramos Gin Fizz.
Ramos Gin Fizz recipe 2 ounce gin (preferably Old Tom) 1 ounce heavy cream 1 egg white 1/2 ounce lemon juice 1/2 ounce lime juice 2 teaspoons sugar 3 drops orange flower water Club soda, to top. Combine all ingredients. Shake with cracked ice for at least one minute, and strain into a chilled Collins glass. Top with just a bit of club soda.
125 timeless stories 1920 Mr. Grunewald opened a theater on the 12th floor of the hotel. The new, little theatre was a site of free morning musicals presented by Grunewald Symphony Orchestra each Friday at 11 a.m. 1922 A Prohibition Raid occurred during the Grain Dealers Association Conference. Described extensively in the essay “Weathering a Dry Spell” by Sally Asher, prohibition agents “busted in on rooms 1263 and 1265 to find full bars with no less than 27 barrels of beer and many bottles of Sazerac cocktails and scotch. It took four trucks to haul away the contraband.” 1923 The hotel was renamed The Roosevelt in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt whose accomplishments in the Panama Canal heightened trade between New Orleans and Central and South Americas. 1925 On October 1, 1925, the new hotel building on Baronne Street opened with celebratory galas. The press boasted The Roosevelt as the “Grandest Hotel in the USA.”
1893 The original hotel opened up as the Grunewald Hotel in December 1983. The hotel was six stories tall with 200 guest rooms. 1894 The hotel hosts its first big event, an 1894 Mardi Gras celebration. 1907 Tower 2 (Roosevelt Way) opens on New Year’s Eve. The tower had 400 rooms which made the total hotel 600 rooms.
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1908 The Cave opens in the basement of The Grunewald. Regarded as one of America’s first nightclubs. The Cave came complete with waterfalls, stalagmites, stalactites and a line of chorus girls dancing to a Dixieland Jazz band. 1919 Plans were considered in 1919 to replace the original Grunewald Hotel on Baronne Street with a 23-story building that would have 880 rooms. Grunewald was unable to complete these plans on his doctor’s advice.
1923 Lavish ceremonies at The Roosevelt took place in the Romanesque Room, which was on the site of the present Blue Room. The success of the Romanesque Room led to the closing of the Cave. 1925 Airline Highway construction begins. Governor Huey Long is rumored to have begun construction to make his drive from the capital in Baton Rouge to The Roosevelt Hotel shorter. 1925 Mailbox chutes installed in lobby. It has been in continuous function since then. Every floor has a drop and only the post office has a key.
1925 Original tiles installed in the lobby. Tiles remained on lobby floor, but were covered by carpet many years later.
1935 The Roosevelt acquired the exclusive rights for the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz in Louisiana.
1930 Hotel lobby Holiday decorations began. The holiday display was one of the most popular in New Orleans and continues to this day.
1935 Grand ballroom becomes largest meeting room in New Orleans. This meeting room is now The Waldorf Astoria Ballroom, which is a popular choice for wedding receptions at the hotel.
1930 “The Green Silk Pajamas” – now on display in the Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge. Governor Long wore the pajamas while “entertaining” the German Consul in his suite at The Roosevelt. The consul found it disrespectful, but Hotel Manager Seymour Weiss loaned Long a swallowtail coat, allowing him to save face and avoid an international incident. 1933 Prohibition lifted, Food & Bev director accepts first legal delivery as crowds cheer and take pictures. 1934 On December 12, 1934, the hotel was sold to Seymour Weiss who was president and managing director of The Roosevelt for 31 years, after beginning his career working in the hotel barbershop. 1934 Standoff between now Senator Long and New Orleans. The city and the Louisiana state government were prepared to go to war over control of the city. At 10PM, while Long was in his suite at the Roosevelt, National Guardsmen under his control broke down the doors of the registrar of voters office. Guardsmen outnumbered city police forces 2,500 to 500.
1935 “Head Bartender Sam Guarino is flown to NYC by Senator Long to teach the bar staff at the New Yorker Hotel how to make Ramos Gin Fizzes. “And this is gentlemen, my gift to New York.” 1935 Huey P Long Assassinated in Baton Rouge. On his deathbed he told GM and owner Seymour Weiss he would reveal location of his deduct box later. Long died before he could lead anyone to the box, which has not been found to this day. It is thought to have over $1 million and be hidden somewhere in the hotel. 1938 The first liquor license ever issued in the United States, granted to William Claridge of Groton, Connecticut in September 1794 was reproduced and presented to Seymour Weiss. He considered it one of this hotel’s most treasured antiques. 1938 Another treasured antique, the Ascot Cup, was purchased for the bar. It contains 80 pounds of sterling silver; this cup from 1878 was the last silver trophy for the race; a silver horse used to sit atop the trophy, but was stolen during an offsite restoration in the early ‘90’s.
1938 The Blue Room was redesigned into the Hawaiian Blue Room. Its décor gave the effect of a South Seas rendezvous with moving clouds and twinkling stars. Beach scenes formed backgrounds for the bandstands and the bar, while special effects produced an illusion of lightning along with the sound of thunder, followed by a rainbow and clearing skies. 1938 The Main Bar opened at The Roosevelt, featuring four murals by painter Paul Ninas, beautiful paneling of African Walnut and its unique curved bar. 1938 The Fountain Lounge opened. It was built in the room formerly known as the Fountain Terrace, and enjoyed the most modern facilities obtainable for a cocktail lounge or supper club. 1938 Gustave Vellino, world famous chef at The Roosevelt passes away. Vellino competed with the chefs of Antoine’s, Arnauds, Broussard’s, and Galatoire’s among others. At this time The Roosevelt was the only hotel in the world which offered its guests a complete and exhaustive Creole menu along with standard dishes. 1938 Legendary boxer Jack Dempsey honored with “Jack Dempsey Night” in the Blue Room. 1940 Joe Dimaggio and The New York Yankees stop by The Roosevelt to get a personalized cooking class from The Roosevelt’s chefs. Dimaggio was a restauranteur in San Francisco during his playing career.
1932 WWL studios were moved to the Roosevelt Hotel. WWL broadcast the popular daily news and entertainment program “The Dawnbusters,” which aired for 25 years, in addition to live supper clubs once the Blue Room opened. Fred Lobdell for their more than 40 years each of continuous and faithful service. Both were employed in 1906 by the Grunewald Hotel. 1948 Duke and Duchess of Montoro, Spain spend royal honeymoon at Roosevelt Hotel. 1940 The Metropolitan Opera is in New Orleans and the performers stay at the Roosevelt. The lobby became a who’s who of celebrities as fans flocked the scene. 1940 Every evening at 11:30 in the Roosevelt’s Fountain Lounge, added to the delightful music of Arthur Ravel, comes the newest rage of after-theatre folk- “The Arthur Murray Champagne Hour.” The prizes for the contest were first place, Champagne; second place, a medal; and third place, dance certificate at the studio. 1940 WWL Radio opened up their new studio on the second floor of The Roosevelt New Orleans. 1940 The New Blue Room Opens! Made to host the best parties in town, the beautiful new room was designed by New York’s Jac Lessmann and built by the Roosevelt’s men under the guidance of Chief Engineer John Bryner. 1941 Hollywood comes to The Roosevelt! Stars from the cinema capital descended on the Roosevelt Hotel for the Premier of Universal’s “The Flame of New Orleans” at the Orpheum Theater across from the hotel.
1941 Plymouth Car Show held in the Blue Room. 1942 First Christmas Meeting of The Roosevelt Employees. Management handed out $30,000 in bonuses to 700 employees. Each employee of over 5 years of service received a service award pin. 1942 A breakfast raised $4 Million ($60 Million in 2018) for War Bonds. Over 1,000 men and women jammed the Grand Ballroom on September 25th for what started out to be a $1 Million War Bond Breakfast and ended in a last-minute sprint pushing the figure to $4 Million to break all national records by about three-quarters of a million dollars. 1943 The Roosevelt sends its Blue Room Show to LaGarde Hospital to perform for service men and other individuals. 1944 CBS-WWL and the American Hotel Association, in cooperation with the U.S. Treasury Department, presented a half-hour coastto-coast radio program on behalf of the Fourth War Loan Drive live from The Blue Room. 1944 Senator Harry S. Truman spent two days in New
Orleans at The Roosevelt while attending a Flood Control Meeting. He became President just 5 months later. 1946 New Orleans celebrates first post-war carnival! Mardi Gras maskers and revelers filled facilities of The Roosevelt throughout the day and night. 1946 The Roosevelt New Orleans went under a $1 million remodeling program. Updates to the Blue Room and air conditioning added throughout hotel. 1946 The newest in fall and winter apparel that will be worn to school and college by girls and young ladies was presented for students in the Roosevelt’s Grand Ballroom recently. Models were from the schools of New Orleans. 1946 It was the opening of The Roosevelt’s ultra-sophisticated New Blue Room. The new Blue Room was cheerful, colorful, smart, intimate and lavish and something of which café society and the Roosevelt management was proud of. It was opened with a party for employees of The Roosevelt, custom each time the Blue Room was rebuilt. 1946 The “Skyway Express” Ice
show opens inside the New Blue Room. Music, dancing, and professional figure skating proved to be very popular during the summer months. 1947 Madame Nina Ricci, noted Parisian designer, showcased her complete French Couturiere’s collection of originals during The French Fashion Show in The Roosevelt Grand Ballroom. It was a gala benefit dinner and style show which afforded New Orleans society the privilege of viewing the collection. 1947 Members of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, 1946 champions of the American League, stopped by The Roosevelt. The Red Sox were here for several exhibition games against the minor league New Orleans Pelicans during Spring training. 1948 Frank Sinatra “The Voice” relaxes in his Roosevelt suite after a New Orleans Mardi Gras, and Jack Dempsey “The “Manasa Mauler” is on hand as well to referee a wrestling match. 1948 Cited for More than 80 years service! J. U. Jordy, Resident manager of The Roosevelt, presents gold, diamond-studded service pins to Della Walker and
1949 TV comes to the Roosevelt. The Roosevelt’s Fountain Lounge and Blue Room took on all the aspects of a major television studio each week when WDSU-TV’s Remote Mobile Unit “shoots,” a simultaneous radio and television show, broadcast directly from the hotel. 1949 “Stormin’ of the Sazerac” The Sazerac Bar opens in space currently housing the hotel gift shop. Weiss decides to allow women into the bar (previously only allowed on Mardi Gras Day as was custom in New Orleans), leading to the Stormin’ of the Sazerac. A vanguard of ladies waited in line to be first in the new bar and break the century-old custom. The event is now recreated every year in late September. 2019 will be the 70th Anniversary of the original event. 1949 Louis Armstrong performs in the Blue Room in December. 1950 The Roosevelt Hosts the largest New Year’s Eve event in New Orleans, with one party in its Grand Ballroom and one in The Blue Room. Music was broadcast coastto-coast on CBS and WWL. 1951 The Roosevelt opens new cigar and liquor stores in the lobby.
1952 More than 450 Roosevelt Hotel employees volunteered to give a pint of blood to the American Red Cross Blood Bank. The Red Cross set up its equipment in the University Room of the Hotel and began the huge task of interviewing, examining, typing and testing the steady stream of personnel. 1953 Greece’s Paul and Frederika captivate New Orleans! While in New Orleans, the royal couple occupied The Roosevelt’s International Suite. The Queen’s bedroom was furnished with rare antique furniture of the Louis XV period. 1953 Movie Star and icon Marilyn Monroe first appears on the cover of the February 1953 Roosevelt Review. Monroe would appear again on the cover of the December 1954 issue. 1954 The Shell Building was completed next to The Roosevelt on the corner on University Place and Common Street. The hotel negotiated for seven floors of the building and increased its accommodations to 900 rooms. Today this building, at 925 Common St., is an apartment building and the hotel has no accommodations inside. 1954 The huge International room was built on the second floor of the Shell Building and connects with the Mezzanine floor of the hotel. This room accommodates over 2,200 for meetings and 1,250 at banquets. This room is now known as the Crescent City Ballroom, which hosts the annual Teddy Bear Tea event.
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1957 Seymour Weiss, president and managing director of The Roosevelt, greets the stars of the “I Love Lucy” program. “Lucy” and her friends made guest appearances at the benefit ball at the hotel for the Crippled Children’s Hospital.
1935 Blue Room opens (formerly the Venetian Room). This room was the first ballroom to have air conditioning in the South.
1954 Actress Audrey Hepburn appears on the cover of the August 1954 Roosevelt Review. 1954 Among the many celebrated visitors to New Orleans stopping at The Roosevelt, were movie, radio and TV comedians Jerry Calona and Bob Hope. Hope would be honored posthumously in 2003 by having the Hollywood Burbank Airport named after him. 1954 Hollywood came to New Orleans and transformed part of The Roosevelt into a sound stage as Columbia Pictures filmed many of the scenes for its forthcoming picture, “Riot on Pier 6” in the hotel. 1954 The 75th Anniversary party of the discovery of the electric light bulb by Thomas Edison is celebrated at the Roosevelt. 1955 Former president Harry Truman attends National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods conference at hotel and is honored. 1955 Vice President Nixon speaks 52 THE Roosevelt Review
before a capacity crowd at a luncheon in the International Room of The Roosevelt. 1956 Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visits hotel to speak at a Bond for Israel dinner. 1956 Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts addressed attendees at a $50-a-plate Democratic fundraising dinner in the International Room of The Roosevelt. Officials from all levels of the government and the Democratic Party attended the dinner. 1956 Seymour Weiss is honored by local Police Association in recognition of the outstanding service rendered to the members of NOPD and the families of deceased members. He is awarded honorary life membership in mutual benevolent association. 1956 The Roosevelt hosts the Air Force Association award banquet. 2000 of the top airmen across the country come to New Orleans for the event. 1957 Singer-comedians Phil Harris and Bing Crosby visit the hotel.
1958 Mr. William Barron Hilton, son of hotelman Conrad Hilton, and his wife Mrs. Marilyn June Hawley were welcomed to The Roosevelt by its president and managing director, Seymour Weiss. This trip was 50 years before The Roosevelt would officially become a Hilton managed property. 1958 Elvis Presley stayed at The Roosevelt for a week while he was shooting scenes of the picture “King Creole” in the French Quarter. Local fans were ecstatic, mobbing the sets and essentially confining Presley to his room at the Roosevelt Hotel when he wasn’t filming. To escape the fantastical crowd, Elvis would climb through the window of an adjoining building, cross the roof and enter the hotel via a fire escape. 1959 Sazerac Bar on Baronne Street closes and the name moves to the Main Bar inside the hotel. 1959 Rocky Marciano, legendary boxer that inspired the name and fighting style of movie character Rocky Balboa, stays at the Roosevelt while in New Orleans to address the national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police. 1960 The Blue Room hosted a party celebrating the launching of New Delta Line Vessels. A gala in the Blue Room of The Roosevelt featured activities that celebrated the launching of the S.S. del Rio, the largest vessel built on the Mississippi River.
1961 The Roosevelt hosts the Miss Greater New Orleans pageant. Carolyn Natal wins the honor. 1961 Miss USA, Sharon Brown, visits hotel. She would go on to be the 4th runner up in the Miss Universe pageant. Originally from Minden, Louisiana, Brown is one of only 3 Miss USA’s from Louisiana. 1962 Seymour Weiss, President and managing Director of The Roosevelt, greets Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson upon his arrival at The Roosevelt. 1963 NBC News conducts World News Forum from The Roosevelt Hotel. 1964 Author Arthur Hailey spends two months at the Roosevelt while writing Best-selling novel “Hotel”, the story of a New Orleans hotel and management’s struggle to regain profitability. 1965 The hotel was purchased by the Swig family of San Francisco, and a $10 million restoration began. The name of the hotel is changed to The Fairmont-Roosevelt, before eventually becoming The Fairmont New Orleans. Carpet was added in the lobby. The Fountain Lounge was renamed the Rendezvous Lounge 1969 Sonny and Cher perform in the Blue Room. TimesPicayune reporter avid Cuthbert proclaimed, “Sonny and Cher started their act here. It was at the Fairmont. They copied Louis Prima and Keely Smith. When they came to the Fairmont, they needed an act. And they didn’t quite have an act. Dick Stabile, who had been the orchestra leader for Martin and Lewis, helped them put together this act. And it was Cher making fun of Sonny. And Cher singing beautifully, and Sonny … She’d tell him,
‘Sing your little heart out, froggy.’ 1972 The Fairmont Hotel hosts after dark jam sessions for Jazz Fest during the festival’s first year at the Fairgrounds. 1978 Freddie Mercury And Queen: A Night At The Fairmont. Queen debuted the video for “Fat Bottom Girls” during one of the most legendary post-concert parties in rock history. The story, as told by OffBeat Magazine’s Randy Savoie: “Queen’s publicist was charged with the mission to round up every available ‘freak and eccentric’ from the many houses of ill-repute in and around Bourbon Street and bring them back to the Fairmont as soon as humanly possible. The mission would force many Bourbon Street bars to close that night for a lack of employees. Morning had broken, and with it the arrival of a $200,000 bill from the Fairmont.” 1982 James Brown performs a two week stint in The Blue Room in December 1982.
1984 The Auburn Football team, guests at the hotel, win the Sugar Bowl and are presumed national champions. The team returns to the hotel and is swarmed by fans in the lobby in celebration, but are eventually “robbed by the selection committee.” Bo Jackson is one of numerous stars on the team. 1989 The Blue Room officially closes as a Supper Club. 1990 Teddy Bear Tea is introduced at the hotel. It has been an annual holiday tradition ever since for families in New Orleans. 1991 A scene from Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK is filmed in the Sazerac Bar, featuring the late John Candy. 1993 The hotel celebrates its 100th Anniversary. 1998 Regis and Kathie Lee record live from the hotel while in town for NATPE convention.
1944 Former waiter in the Blue Room, Buttons Leblanc, opens Buttons Blue Room in the South Pacific while stationed there for World War II.
2009 On July 1st, The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel officially reopens, almost four years after Hurricane Katrina. 2017 The family of legendary New Orleans musician Fats Domino’s flips the switch at the annual holiday lobby lighting ceremony. Fats passed away one month prior at the age of 89.
Waldorf Astoria Ballroom of the Roosevelt. 2010 Mitch Landrieu holds his post mayoral race party at The Roosevelt, where he wins the election, becoming the 61st mayor of New Orleans. 2012 The street outside the hotel’s main entrance is renamed to Roosevelt Way after many attempts to change it by the hotel. It had previously been named University Place because of Tulane University being located there until 1894. 2013 The Sazerac Restaurant is renamed The Fountain Lounge, paying homage to the popular dining and entertainment venue in the original Roosevelt Hotel.
1999 Chubby Checker (“The Twist”) performs at hotel during millennium NYE festivities.
2004 All The King’s Men, a film loosely based on the life of Huey P. Long, is filmed at hotel.
2001 Sazerac Bar voted best place to get a Sazerac by the New Orleans Gambit. It would win this award many times over the years.
2005 The Fairmont Hotel closes for Hurricane Katrina and doesn’t reopen after flood water damages the basement where many mechanical aspects of the hotel were stored.
2003 The hotel was voted “Best Hotel Lobby in New Orleans” by the New Orleans Gambit. It would win this award many times over the years. 2003 2004’s critically acclaimed biopic “Ray” had a scene filmed in The Blue Room. During the scene Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx) sings the hit song “Hit the Road Jack.”
2007 After being closed for two years, new hotel owners Allan Rose and Sam Friedman announce the intention to spend $145 million renovating the hotel and opening as a Waldorf Astoria hotel. 2008 In a ceremony, the Roosevelt sign is added back to the hotel, and it is announced that the hotel will officially reopen in 2009, as The Roosevelt New Orleans.
2008 The Sazerac becomes the official cocktail of New Orleans after a vote by the Louisiana Legislature. 2008 The New Orleans Downtown Development District announces the first annual Krewe of Jingle Christmas Parade. The Roosevelt partners to become the official hotel partner of the parade and manage float number 1. 2009 The grandson of the original Sazerac Bar tilemaker returns to New Orleans to reinstall original Sazerac Bar tile before the 2009 reopening. He remarks that his grandfather always considered the tile in the Sazerac Bar as one if his crowning achievements. 2009 An original sign from the Hotel Grunewald is found during renovation and placed
on Roosevelt Way entrance above awning. The sign had been covered inside the hotel for over 85 years. 2009 Kingfish, a play based on the life of Huey P. Long opens at The Roosevelt. 2009 The annual Stormin’ of the Sazerac event to recreate the 1949 day when women were allowed into the bar is started during the 60th anniversary. 2009 The Roosevelt holds Fall events to celebrate the hotel’s reopening. Amongst the parties were performances by Pete Fountain, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers, and Allen Toussaint. 2010 The New Orleans Saints win the franchise’s first Super Bowl. The players receive their Super Bowl Rings in a lavish ceremony in the
2014 Scenes from 2015’s Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston, are filmed in the hotel’s lobby and Blue Room. 2015 LBJ, starring Woody Harrelson, is filmed in the hotel’s lobby, making this the second biopic about a U.S. President to be filmed at the hotel, after 1991’s JFK. 2016 The hotel begins the tradition of naming a Reigning Spirit of The Sazerac during the annual Stormin’ of the Sazerac. The Reigning Spirit pays tribute to exemplary women embodying strength, determination, and courageousness similar to the women in 1949 who stormed the bar in 1949 demanding equality. Education activist Orange Jones is honored as the first Reigning Spirit of the Sazerac.
2018 The Roosevelt begins its celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the hotel opening with a supper club in the Blue Room, an homage to the popular events that took place in the hotel during the 1930s to 1980s. 2018 The 60,000 square feet of ballroom space in the hotel undergoes a $5 million renovation to ensure the Roosevelt has the most elegant meeting space in New Orleans. 2018 Awards, Awards, Awards. Among many awards honoring the hotel, The Roosevelt is included on CNN’s list of the Top 20 Most Beautiful Hotels in America and CNN’s list of the Top 15 Hotels that Go All Out for Christmas. The Sazerac Bar is voted the #1 Hotel Bar in the U.S. by readers of USA Today’s 10Best. The Roosevelt’s lobby is rated as one of The Most Beautiful Hotel Lobbies in the World by Architectural Digest. 2018 The Roosevelt and WWL Radio partner to bring WWL back to the hotel. Famed New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris begins broadcasting live from the hotel once a month.
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meet me at the clock Every Waldorf Astoria Hotel features a clock with historical and artistic merit. The antique masterpiece in the lobby of The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which must be wound by hand every eight days, was featured in the 1867 and 1878 Paris exhibitions. Crafted by two French artisans of the late 19th century, renowned clockmaker E. Farcot and sculptor Albert Ernest, today the clock serves as a meeting point for locals and visitors to the hotel. The clock features a base of carved solid onyx marble; atop is a bronze sculpture depicting a robed female figure who holds a scepter that rotates soundlessly from her hand, providing consistent motion that adds to the clockâ€™s sense of grandeur.