Page 1

the ROOSEVELT REVIEW

The Roosevelt New Orleans, Waldorf Astoria hotel


THE ROOSEVELT REVIEW A publication of The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Editor Melanie Warner Spencer Art Director Tiffani Reding Amedeo contributing writers Sally Asher, Les East, Amy Gabriel, Carolyn Kolb, Gwendolyn Knapp, John Magill, Dominic Massa, Phil McCausland , Tim McNally, Amanda Orr Contributing Photographers Sara Essex Bradley, Cheryl Gerber, Brian Huff, Jeffery Johnston, Greg Miles

sales manager Zane Wilson traffic manager Jessica DeBold

production manager Staci McCarty production designers Ali Sullivan, Monique DiPietro

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 Denise Dean customer service Sara Kelemencky 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 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 2016 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

2 THE Roosevelt Review


contents

40

4 Welcome 6 HONORS & Awards 8 Preserving the legacy

28

Luxury, history, business, pleasure and family fun, all in one place

Luxe rooms with a view fit for royalty by Les east

44 A Waldorf Wonderland

by les east

32

by carolyn Kolb

17

sophisticated souvenirs

Gorgeous gifts for yourself and others at The Emporium

22

the sazerac bar

sweet dreams

Au Lait the Day Away at Teddy’s Cafe by amy gabriel

30

by amanda orr, reporting by tim mcnally,

The suite life

The Waldorf Astoria Spa offers a cure for what ails you

48

by melanie warner spencer

The hotel’s most famous guest left lasting impressions on everyone

36

savoring new orleans

Enjoy The Roosevelt’s and New Orleans’ signature events and activities throughout the year

by amy gabriel

by phil mccausland

24

38

the fountain lounge

by amy gabriel

carolyn kolb, sally asher and john magill

Holiday magic at The Roosevelt relax. revive. indulge.

Iconic locale imbued with the spirit of New Orleans

Regionally-inspired cuisine and music, paired with old-world glamour

making history

The Roosevelt’s beginnings, endings and everything in-between

Huey Long and Friends

by carolyn Kolb

54 Through the Years 56 Meet Me at the Clock

the blue room

A sapphire serenade by amy gabriel

Cover Photo: by sara essex bradley

THE Roosevelt Review 3


welcome

W

WELCOME TO The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria 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

4 THE Roosevelt Review


h o n o rs & awar d s

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 U.S. News and World Report, Best New Orleans Hotels, 2015 U.S. News and World Report, Best Hilton Group Hotels & Resorts, 2015

Gambit’s Best of New Orleans Awards, Best Hotel, 2010, 2013 and 2014 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

CNN, Top 9 Hotels That Go All-Out For Christmas, 2015

Hilton Worldwide, Overall Services in the Luxury Division, 2013

TripAdvisor, Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame, 2015

Hotels.com, Top Rated U.S. Hotels, 2013

TripAdvisor, Certificate of Excellence, 2011-2015

Travel + Leisure, America’s Best Hotels for Christmas, 2013

Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Top 5 Hotels in New Orleans, 2014

Saveur Culinary Travel Awards, Outstanding Hotel Bar, 2013

Fodor’s Guides, 10 Most Breathtaking Hotel Lobbies in the U.S., 2014

Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Best Hotel in New Orleans, 2013

OpenTable, Diner’s Choice Restaurant - Fountain Lounge, 2014

Hilton Worldwide, Connie Award, 2012

6 THE Roosevelt Review

Hilton Worldwide, Hotel of the Year, 2012 Hilton Worldwide, General Manager of the Year, 2012 Hilton Worldwide, Genius of “AND”, 2012 Hilton Worldwide, Most Improved Guest Satisfaction, 2012 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

Gambit’s Best of New Orleans Awards, Best Hotel Bar – Sazerac Bar, 2010 ABC News, World’s Most Lavish Hotel Lobbies, 2010 Hilton Worldwide, Best Conversion, 2010 New Orleans Magazine Tops of the Town, Favorite Hotel, 2011 New Orleans Magazine Tops of the Town, Favorite Renovated Building, 2010 and 2011 Food & Wine Magazine, Best Hotels, 2010 Travel Agent Magazine, Hot New Hotels, 2010

Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Best in the World, 2011

Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Bricks and Mortar Award, 2010

Travel + Leisure, Best Hotels, 2011

Lodging Hospitality Design Award, 2010

Travel + Leisure, World’s Greatest Hotels, Resorts and Spas, 2011 AAA Southern Traveler, Best Restored Hotel, 2011 Country Roads Magazine, Favorite Hotel, 2011

Gambit’s Web Awards, Best Hotel Website, 2010 Playboy, America’s Greatest Bars – Sazerac Bar, 2010 Meeting and Conventions, Gold Award of Excellence, 2009


THE Roosevelt Review 7


8 THE Roosevelt Review


Preserving the legacy Luxury, history, business, pleasure and family fun, all in one place By LES EAST THE Roosevelt Review 9


The Lobby

T

The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel 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. Whether you’re a vacationer in New Orleans; part of a local business looking for a comprehensive, state-of-the-art working environment in which to meet; a visitor looking to combine business with a little socialization; or a family traveling together, The Roosevelt has first-class accommodations. With a host of yearly events, there’s something for everyone. The Stormin’ of the Sazerac marks the occasion when women, normally admitted to the Sazerac Bar only on Mardi Gras,

10 THE Roosevelt Review

stormed the popular gathering place demanding equality. Each year, women recreate the event wearing their best 1940s looks and enjoy a luncheon, fashion show and second line into the bar. Each holiday season, adults and children alike delight in the Waldorf Wonderland Lobby Lighting ceremony. The Holiday Teddy Bear Tea is a family favorite and not to be missed. Family fun isn’t just for the holidays. In the summer, take advantage of the hotel’s Family Fun Summer Promotion. Your personal concierge welcomes the children and escorts them to their room or suite. Free breakfast is included for two adults and two children. In-room amenities and games as well as poolside activities, kid-sized spa robes and miniature Roosevelt rubber ducks

are just a few of the package highlights. “Mom and me” treatments in the Waldorf Astoria Spa, pastry classes in Teddy’s Café and in-room movie nights, complete with snacks complete the experience. Contact your Personal Concierge to learn more. The Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar, as well as various meeting facilities link the historic past with the most modern technology. The hotel is just steps from the historic French Quarter and central to the Garden District and Mid-City, making it the perfect “home base” during the city’s many yearround events. With more than a century of history in hosting meetings and catered events for United States presidents, foreign heads of state and global corporate directors, the hotel features 60,000 square feet of


meeting and event space, including three distinctive ballrooms to accommodate gatherings of various sizes: the spacious Roosevelt Ballroom (20,124 square feet); the Crescent City Ballroom (12,204 square feet); and the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom (6,930 square feet). The Roosevelt also has 23 elegant meeting and event rooms. The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel offers the finest luxury accommodations and world-class entertainment, dining and beverages. “For generations, New Orleanians and visitors from around the world called on The Roosevelt because of its reputation for glamour, excitement and comfort,” says Sam Friedman, a member of ownership group First Class Hotels LLC. 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, a 12,000-square-foot, world-class spa and fitness center. The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel also offers private dining and suite butler service, an outdoor pool and courtyard, and the beautiful Emporium Gift Shop for all your gift-giving needs. It’s a 21st-century version of class and luxury that has 19th-century roots. The Roosevelt opened in 1893,

as the Grunewald. In 1923 it was renamed The Roosevelt in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. It retained that elegant name until it was renamed the Fairmont after changing hands in 1965. Among the dignitaries who once frequented the hotel is legendary Gov. Huey P. Long, who spent so much time at The Roosevelt, which served as his headquarters in the 1930s, that Louisiana legend says he even built a 90-mile highway directly from the state capitol in Baton Rouge to the hotel. One of The Roosevelt’s premiere meeting spaces is The Huey P. Long Executive Boardroom, which features 570 square feet of space and 10-foot ceilings, as well as the newest telephone, audio/visual and touch-screen lighting control technology available. Former presidents also frequented the hotel, which once again is a magnet for celebrities and dignitaries. The Roosevelt is known to hotel aficionados worldwide as having inspired Arthur Haley’s best selling 1965 novel Hotel. The Blue Room is a featured attraction at all hours. In addition to hosting the wildly popular brunch, the Blue Room was a famed destination during the golden era of supper clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s. It hosted some of the best-known names in entertainment and big bands, as well as elaborate floorshows. Keeping with tradition, the Blue Room is available for other special events, such as weddings and Carnival balls. Big band fans worldwide will warmly recall turning to WWL radio at night and hearing the

THE Roosevelt Review 11


The Rooftop Pool

sounds of the Leon Kelner Orchestra, the house band, live from the Blue Room. With gleaming chandeliers and carefully restored architectural details, the renovated Blue Room again offers live entertainment that appeals to all ages. The Sazerac Bar, a Roosevelt landmark for decades, 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. Even the lobby of The Roosevelt is a magnet for patrons as well as passers-by. A distinct, antique clock once featured at the 1867 and 1878 Paris exhibitions is on display in the lobby. This conical masterpiece, the largest known to exist, is the lobby’s centerpiece.

12 THE Roosevelt Review

“This clock is really a gift from The Roosevelt New Orleans to the community,” says 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.” The timepiece was crafted by two of France’s most important artisans of the late 19th century: renowned clock-maker E. Farcot and sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier de Belleuse. Its base, which features the clock’s face and inner mechanism, is carved from solid onyx marble. Atop the base sits a bronze sculpture depicting a robed female figure holding a scepter. Rotating soundlessly from the female subject’s hand, the scepter provides consistent

motion that adds to the clock’s sense of grandeur and mystery. In all, the imposing grand clock stands nearly 10 feet tall. European exhibitions in the second half of the 19th century were staged as a way to introduce to the public the finest examples of art and science of the day. 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. The clock is a symbol of The Roosevelt’s standing as part of Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, each hotel features a clock with significant historical and artistic merit. To bear the Waldorf Astoria Hotel name, properties also must have 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 Hotel’s elegant assortment of hotels and resorts aims to provide affluent travelers with authentic luxury experiences and unlimited opportunities for discovery. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is a member of Hilton’s Luxury, and Hilton Hotels Corporation is the leading global hospitality company, with more than 3,000 hotels and 500,000 rooms in 74 countries and more than 135,000 team members worldwide. The company owns, manages or franchises some of the best-known and highly regarded hotel brands including The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Hilton, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations and Homewood Suites by Hilton. 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. The Roosevelt New Orleans offers state-of-the-art technology that’s designed to accommodate meetings and provide catering spaces for gatherings of all sizes, whether it’s a 10-person board meeting, a wedding with 500 guests or a convention for 700. Booking space of any size or type in The Roosevelt is as convenient as modern technology allows. The hotel offers the latest online reservation and meetingmanagement technology available in the hospitality industry, making it easier than

THE Roosevelt Review 13


Roosevelt Ballroom

Waldorf Astoria Ballroom

The Huey P. Long Executive Boardroom

14 THE Roosevelt Review

ever for guests and meeting clients to book their stays at the historic hotel. As a result, a process that used to take days now takes just minutes, making for instant access for guests. Another booking tool, Passkey, allows meeting planners to manage their guest room blocks on their own, including entering, modifying or deleting reservations without having to go through an intermediary. Clients can review their group block in real time and save time and costs if changes are needed. The Roosevelt utilizes a tool called E-events to allow meeting planners to book both room blocks and meeting space online. The planners also will have the option to book audio/visual equipment and food and beverage services with their meeting rooms. E-events makes it possible for planners to bypass hotel sales staff and gives them more freedom when booking their events. 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.


sophisticated souvenirs Gorgeous gifts for yourself and others at The Emporium

SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS

Gentleman’s Accessories Carlos Santana fedora, NOLA Couture ties, Rosemax cufflinks and tuxedo set

THE Roosevelt Review 17


The Official Cocktail of New Orleans Sazerac Kit, Sazerac cocktail glasses, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Herbsaint, Peychaud’s Bitters, Obituary Cocktail by Kerri McCaffety, New Orleans Classic Cocktails by Kit Wohl

18 THE Roosevelt Review


Life of Luxury Mary Frances handbag, Mignon Faget HIVE jeweled cuff and rings, Tourance chinchilla gray scarf, Les Dames Chapeaux classic headwear

THE Roosevelt Review 19


Taste of New Orleans Mudpie fleur de lis towel, Mudpie fleur de lis dip set, Mudpie crab pasta bowl, Arthur Court Designs alligator letter opener, Arthur Court Designs crawfish bottle opener, Arthur Court Designs crab bowl, Creole Cookery by The Christian Woman’s Exchange 20 THE Roosevelt Review


Signature Roosevelt Roosevelt signature gardenia and jasmine scented candle, Roosevelt 12oz stemmed wine glass, Roosevelt rocks glass, Roosevelt shot glass, Landmark Creations glass ornament, Marina’s Watercolors cards

THE Roosevelt Review 21


The Sazerac Bar Iconic locale imbued with the spirit of New Orleans

W

When a bar shares a name with the Official Cocktail of the City of New Orleans, it’s fair to assume the expectations will be high. And The Sazerac Bar — which has become as iconic as its eponymous spirit — doesn’t disappoint. The historic lounge, having been restored in 2009 when the landmark hotel reopened to much fanfare, is in full swing. Walking into the bar is a moment cut in two — one that speaks to tradition and history, another of cocktail-infused kinetic

22 THE Roosevelt Review

by Amy Gabriel

energy that only a night on the town in the great Crescent City can stimulate. The shadowed space and dark corners of the elegant bar call for exchanges of toasts rather than the swapping of Twitter handles, handshakes over comparisons of social media followers. The old world elegance extends from the Art Deco inspired light fixtures, rich mahogany club chairs and wood paneling to the large, iconic murals depicting New Orleans circa the 1930s as painted by revered local artist Paul Ninas.

Even with its status and stately appearance, you’ll never be met with anything less than a welcome as warm as a nightcap nip of a six-year rye whiskey. The curved wooden bar beckons patrons to approach without intimidation. The top-tier wait staff — some have been here for decades — exude a mix of professionalism and Southern hospitality. The cocktail list speaks to classic staples of the city, ranging from the Ramos Gin Fizz — a favorite of former Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long


who used to frequent the bar — to petite and potent bright green spirits springing from the crystal absinthe fountain. Seating is coveted, often resulting in the mixing of groups who socialize over sips at shared tables overlooking the elegant bar backed by a large mirror illuminating the space. Even the cozy sofas situated in the entryway offer either the excuse for privacy or the opportunity for frater-

nizing, making for the ideal space to toast what some consider the first cocktail ever invented. The drink

A cocktail that was born and raised in New Orleans has a lot of local clout. With on-the-rocks roots that date back to the early 1800s, each taste of The Sazerac is like drinking in a little bit of history, sip by sip. RR

THE Roosevelt Review 23


The Fountain Lounge

I

Regionally-inspired cuisine and music, paired with old-world glamour

In New Orleans, we like to add a soundtrack to our lives whenever possible. A sophisticated cocktail becomes even more potent when paired with a jazz riff. A rum glazed bite of bread pudding tastes that much more decadent with the sound of soulful blues music in the background. It’s this type of complementary mentality which allows The Roosevelt Hotel’s Fountain Lounge to always hit the right notes.

24 THE Roosevelt Review

by Amy Gabriel

Adjacent to the famed Sazerac Bar and situated just off the elaborate hotel lobby hallway, the Fountain Lounge is a place to settle in when the evening urge to socialize and imbibe grabs hold. Re-opened in the fall of 2013, the renovated space is an echo of the original built in 1938. Rooted in old-world glamour, the rich, wood flooring, luxurious fabrics and high-end finishes give a glimpse into the Lounge’s glitzy past, as does the live

entertainment, a roster of celebrated local jazz and blues musicians who perform on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A deliciously convenient option for dining within the hotel, the Lounge features menus throughout the day, created and executed by Chef de Cuisine, Cody Curl, who has been with the Roosevelt since 2009. “I’m thrilled to play such a large role as chef de cuisine, carrying on the tradition of sophisticated and


luxurious dining at the Fountain Lounge,” says Chef Curl. With an acute sense of fare appealing to visitors and locals alike, Chef Curl curated breakfast, lunch and dinner menus suited to those looking to conduct business gatherings between bites, as well as for groups inclined to linger and socialize. Begin your morning with prettily plated Ponchatoula strawberry shortcake waffles with Chantilly cream and a cup of signature Roosevelt blend coffee. If your cravings are more of the savory variety, a blue crab omelette with chevre and smoked mushrooms should tide you over until your next meal and feed your appetite for regionally-inspired cusine. In addition to the daily

breakfast offerings, a weekend brunch menu, served both Saturday and Sunday, is available to suit a more leisurely start to the day. The afternoon and evening menus offer a variety of satisfying plates. Start with the crispy Brussels sprouts, kicked up with miso-honey dressing, then delight in a coriander crusted tuna salad with grilled avocado and cilantro pesto. And because the Crescent City always invites one to dabble in dessert, the Louisiana “Lost Bread” with praline syrup and candied pecans is not to be missed. The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently competed in the second annual Taste of Waldorf

THE Roosevelt Review 25


Astoria competition. This competition was an invitation for James Beard Foundation Rising Star Semi-Finalist chefs to partner with Waldorf Astoria Master Chefs for weeklong collaborations in 2015. Equally as celebrated as the unforgettable cuisine is the cocktail list at the Fountain Lounge. Both the libation and wine menus are a nod to the Lounge’s mid-century beginnings, when the fashionable elite, drinks in hand, would congregate in leather club chairs to catch up on the day’s events, discuss current affairs or simply want to take in live entertainment for the evening. Created by hotel sommelier Russ Bergeron and his team, the curated spirits list, which changes quarterly, explores seasonally appropriate sips but always features a few classics. “You’ll regularly find the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac on the menu,” says Bergeron, who revealed that one of the most coveted cocktail keepsakes are the hotel’s signature Sazerac glasses, which are for sale in the hotel emporium. Those looking to imbibe will also typically notice two other

26 THE Roosevelt Review

cocktails created for the Fountain Lounge circa the 40s and 50s — the Southern Comfort spiked Jambalaya and the Bayou Swizzle, a mix of Bacardi light rum, lime juice and falernum. “From a nostalgia standpoint, we’ll keep one on the list at any given time,” said Bergeron. While the cocktail list is stellar, the well-edited wine list is among the best in the city. You’ll currently find about 30 wines by the glass and 150 selections by the bottle, ranging from unoaked chardonnays to lush California cabernets and a selection of Old World pinots. Recognizing the rise in popularity of rosés and their tendency to pair well with many of the shellfish dishes so popular to the New Orleans dining culture, Bergeron keeps a couple of chilled and sparkling options ready to pour for those looking to have a pink wine moment. Always looking for elements to increase the mystique of the Lounge, a unique element added to the bar is a state-of-theart, European designed dispenser system

that allows fine wines to stay at their peak even after being opened. “It’s fun to bring in upscale bottles from the cellar that play well in the wine dispenser,” says Bergeron. “And the idea behind (the enomatic) pouring wine is our little throwback to the concept of a ‘fountain’.” The elegant Lounge also caters to those attending performances at the nearby Saenger Theatre, a performance venue that reopened in the fall of 2013. From original finishes to color scheme, the picturesque space now features a veritable restoration of the original 1927 design and is a great draw for those looking to attend a larger scale cultural event ranging from musicals to comedy acts. A designated pre-theater menu at the Lounge features threecourses with options, starting small and ending sweet, designed to be served at a pace that will have ticket holders in their seats in time for opening curtain. And when the evening seems too good to call an end to, make your way back to the Fountain Lounge for a Negroni nightcap to send you off to a satisfied sleep. RR


THE Roosevelt Review 27


sweet dreams

I

Au Lait the Day Away at Teddy’s Cafe

In New Orleans, the urge to indulge begins at daybreak and doesn’t end until last call. Succumb to both your aprèsslumber cravings and evening hankerings at Teddy’s Cafe, located just off the Grand Lobby. Outfitted in modern accents and a picturesque round ceiling detail, the sleek lounge allows for an effortless ease into the day, all without setting foot outside of the hotel doors. Aromatic cups of signature Roosevelt blend PJ’s coffee — created specifically for the hotel — beckon you towards the charming glass display counter that hosts both a dry and cold selection of pastries baked in-house. The former features

28 THE Roosevelt Review

by Amy Ga briel

house favorites like the almond brioche toast and Steen’s bacon sticky buns while the latter offers an assortment to the tune of fresh fruit tarts and frozen moussicles. In addition to the regular menu, head Pastry Chef Deborah Heyd, an esteemed part of the Roosevelt team since the re-opening in 2009, has added a featured monthly dessert special, catering to the seasonality of the fruit and tenor of the time of year. Those with a taste for decadence will appreciate delights like the shortbread crusted figgy tart or the scrumptious pumpkin praline cheesecake. Ordered day or night, each bite is more divine than the last. Teddy’s is open all day, from 6 a.m.

- 8 p.m, so patrons can satisfy their cravings throughout the day and early evening with a hearty cup of quintessential Louisiana soup or gumbo or a savory New Orleans style mufuletta paired with a glass of wine or champagne from the libation list. And, no visit to the Cafe would be complete without a slice of the signature Waldorf Astoria classic red velvet cake. Teddy’s, a beloved haunt with a loyal set of customers, accommodates those who want to get cozy, as well as those in a more business and briefcase mindset. “We cater to the business traveler, the vacationer and the local just strolling through after a show,” Heyd says. RR


the suite life

T

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-

30 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


Waldorf Suite

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Suite

Astoria 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

THE Roosevelt Review 31


relax. revive. indulge.

A

The Waldorf Astoria Spa offers a cure for what ails you

An urban oasis amid the hustle and

bustle of New Orleans, once you enter the Waldorf Astoria Spa, you are transported to a tranquil, transformative environment. Technologically advanced, with a soothing, modern design, 10 private treatment rooms, a couple’s therapy suite, VIP treatment room, hydrotherapy facilities, full-service salon,

32 THE Roosevelt Review

by Melanie warner spencer

makeup services and a new relaxing lounge, no stay at The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel is complete without a visit to the Waldorf Astoria Spa. The expert staff cater to your needs, while allowing you the time and space to relax and rejuvenate. There are few things more decadent and indulgent than being in the hands of a

talented and experienced massage therapist, pedicurist or aesthetician to melt away the stress of the day. Known for expert treatments and luxurious care, the Waldolf Astoria Spa now offers a way for patrons to indulge in regular restoration with the new Spa Club. The Spa Club is perfect for a New


SPA MENU

This is just a sampling of the many services offered at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Massage Therapies WALDORF ASTORIA SIGNATURE MASSAGE 80mins 50mins REFLEXOLOGY 25mins 50mins FOUR HANDED MASSAGE 80mins Facial Therapies HYDRAFACIAL® 80 min 50 min 25 Intense Hydration 50mins Connon Softness 50mins Papaya Purity 50mins Lisse Supreme 50mins Organic Super Sensitive 50mins Organic Gentlemen’s 50mins Organic Ocean Express 30mins

Orleans local or a frequent Crescent City visitor. A six month or 12 month membership gives guests an unforgettable experience. Along with custom massages or facials and retail discounts, the club grants access to the rooftop pool, fitness center, spa amenities and at least one gift treatment to a friend (for more information call 504-335-3190 or email waldorfastoriaspa@therooseveltneworleans.com). Incorporated into all of the Waldorf Astoria Spa’s signature treatments are premier products, including Carita, OSEA Skincare and Kevyn Aucoin. After a few days of discovering history, mystery and maybe a cocktail or two in the French Quarter or racking up mileage on your feet during a conference, consider a balancing, Reflexology treatment. This pressure point massage treatment not only improves circulation, but also relieves pain and restores tired, aching muscles. When your schedule permits additional

pampering, one of the spa’s full body massage therapy treatments in your preferred modality (from Swedish and light touch to prenatal or deep tissue), will revive, restore and reinvigorate even the most overindulged traveler or the busiest executive. The synchronized Four Handed Massage, performed by two therapists, is akin to having a massage after your massage. For the ultimate experience, pair it with a Sensory Revival Hydrotherapy treatment, the ultimate calming and detoxifying bathing ritual featuring Himalayan pink sea salts. Whether in New Orleans for a wedding, Mardi Gras ball or a little revelry, rest and relaxation, a Detoxifying Seaweed Polish and Wrap purifies pores, hydrates and nourishes skin and eases stress. Once on the treatment table, the therapist applies a special seaweed scrub to draw out toxins. The mineral rich algae wrap softens skin and gentle lymphatic drainage massage moisturizes, promoting

Body Therapies DETOXIFYING SEAWEED POLISH & WRAP 110mins SUN UNDONE 50mins THE PERFECT BODY 80mins Hand & Foot Therapies WALDORF SIGNATURE MANICURE 80mins Classic Manicure 50 min Mom and Me Manicures 30 min WALDORF SIGNATURE PEDICURE 80mins Classic Pedicure 50 min Mom and Me Pedicures 50 min Shampoo & Style THE Roosevelt Review 33


relaxation and detoxification, prepping you to look and feel your best. In the summer, nourish and cool sun-exposed skin with a 50-minute Sun Undone full-body cooling wrap. During the winter months, exfoliate dead, dry skin, revive with a massage and tone tired skin with the anti-aging, hydrating The Perfect Body treatment, a lavish 80-minute service. Facials are no longer considered a special treat, rather an essential ingredient in the beauty recipe book. From anti-aging and sensitive skin treatments to organic and maintenance sessions, the Waldorf Astoria Spa offers a facial therapy for any skin type and preference. State-of-the-art technology, coupled with top-of-the line products marry in the signature Hydrafacial, which gently removes dead skin cells and impurities, cleanses, hydrates and moisturizes for soft, glowing skin. The soothing, results-oriented treatment is designed for all skin types and gentle enough to get the day of an event. Put the finishing touch on your look for a special occasion or just because with one of the spa’s hand and foot therapies. Each of the treatments, which include gel and classic manicures, classic and spa pedicures, polish changes and callus treatments, employs vegan, gluten-free and organic products for much healthier nails. The 80-minute Waldorf Signature Manicure features a hydrating paraffin manicure with a fragrant mineral scrub, exfoliation and masque. For those who like the staying power of a gel manicure, without the difficult removal, opt for the spa’s new Vinylux manicure, which is less harmful, easier to remove and lasts seven days. Keep your beauty routine in tact with a visit to one of the spa’s skilled estheticians for a Brazilian, bikini, eyebrow, back or other waxing treatments. Get a makeup application or bridal makeup consultation, featuring premier products by the celebrated Louisiana-born makeup artist, photographer and author, the late Kevyn Aucoin. For that sun-kissed, vacation glow, get the Fantasy Tan, which is one of the best sunless tanning systems on the market. Once your treatment is complete, sink into a comfortable, upholstered chase lounge chair, sip a complimentary glass of champagne or a mimosa and listen to soothing music in the new relaxation lounge. This quiet, dimly lit room is designed as the perfect ending to any Waldorf Astoria Spa treatment. RR 34 THE Roosevelt Review


THE Roosevelt Review 35


Jazz Fest

Tales of the Cocktail

White Linen Night

Savoring New Orleans Enjoy The Roosevelt’s and New Orleans’ signature events and activities throughout the year

A

Any given weekend, there’s a reason to

be in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is a five or six-week season unto itself, and then there are a number of music, food, film, literary, theater, art and holiday festivals and celebrations to attend throughout the rest of the year. It’s tough to keep track of everything that’s going on, but there are a few big events to keep your eye on. You don’t even have to leave the hotel for some of them. At The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, there are three prominent events to consider: The Storming of the

By Phil McCausl and

Sazerac, the Waldorf Wonderland Lobby Lighting ceremony and the Holiday Teddy Bear Tea. The first is a tradition that harkens back to 1949, the first time women were allowed in the iconic Sazerac Bar. Typically occurring late September to early October, the event is recreated as women dress in period costumes and demand a drink at the bar. “They also offer [‘40s] makeovers for ladies,” says personal concierge Danielle Hammett who has worked at the hotel since 2013. “You have to buy a ticket to the luncheon every year to attend but anybody

who wants to come in off the street can storm the Sazerac with everyone. After the luncheon, they’ll second line through the lobby and then storm the Sazerac like ladies did in 1949 and demand that they be served.” The holidays are always a special time at The Roosevelt. Guests can enjoy the Waldorf Wonderland Lobby Lighting ceremony and the Holiday Teddy Bear Tea. The former has been a tradition since the 1930s and includes tens-of-thousands of twinkling lights, while the latter is a popular event for children. Families get to meet Santa, drink tea, eat

cheryl gerber photogr aphs

36 THE Roosevelt Review


cake, take photos and everyone goes home with a souvenir teddy bear. “Teddy Bear Tea has really gained in popularity in the past few years,” Hammett says. “It’s gotten to the point where they’ve had to add some seating for each weekend because our locals will book up all the spots so fast.” New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Tales of the Cocktail are two of the city’s largest events that are growing in popularity, but don’t occur at the hotel. For those who aren’t familiar, Jazz Fest is New Orleans’ largest music festival and features hundreds of musicians, from nationally acclaimed acts to New Orleans favorites. Tales of the Cocktail, often called Tales by frequent attendees and locals, is the world’s premier cocktail festival, highlighting new trends in and present state of the cocktail, spirits and bartending industries. Jazz Fest typically occurs at the end of April and is one of the busiest weeks in the city. To get in and out of the festival easily, abate the hectic lines and escape the heat and rain that comes with the season, consider the Big Chief VIP Experience. It includes daily admission to the festival, access to a private air-conditioned tent and VIP viewing stands, on-site parking or a shuttle from Harrah’s Casino, within walking distance of the hotel. For a more relaxed music experience than Jazz Fest, Hammett suggests an alternative: French Quarter Fest. This free festival celebrates local food and music and provides that laid-back atmosphere guests might desire in their Big Easy visit. “It does hold a lot of appeal for guests because you don’t have to commit to it, buy your tickets ahead of time, and figure out how you’re going to get out there,” Hammett says. “You can just walk to the French Quarter from the hotel and see what there is to offer. I personally prefer the French Quarter Fest. I enjoy the vibe and music a little bit more.” Tales of the Cocktail offers a number

of seminars informing attendees about the changing and growing world of mixology, as well as offering tastings and networking opportunities. As New Orleans is known for its cocktail industry already and has a number of the best bartenders in the country, it’s quite an affair when additional notable bartenders descend upon the city. Though Tales does not occur in the hotel, you can be sure attendees will want to make a stop at The Roosevelt. “A lot of the appeal for them is the Sazerac Bar because it is such an iconic New Orleans location,” says Hammett. “We are a great spot for people to meet up, and we do have a lot of the Tales presenters at the bar at any given time.” The Roosevelt’s Fountain Lounge is another great place to meet, especially if you’re visiting the local theater. The Saenger Theatre and Orpheum Theater are two close-by and beautiful concert halls that offer national productions and touring musicians and comedians. For those coming into New Orleans to attend either theater, The Fountain Lounge offers a prefix menu until slightly before show time, so guests won’t miss a minute of the performance. “We get a lot of people staying here and people coming from North Louisiana, Baton Rouge or wherever to come in for one night for a show,” Hammett said. “They’ll eat at the Fountain Lounge, have a few drinks at the Sazerac and then head down to the Saenger.” But these events are only the tip of the iceberg. There are Saints’ game weekends for the sports lover, Mardi Gras for anyone and everyone, The Tennessee Williams Festival for the book-inclined, Oak Street Po-Boy Festival for the hungry, the Whitney White Linen Night for art-and-wine lovers and the Essence Music Festival, which celebrates African American music and culture at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. No matter your interests or the time of year, there’s something for every guest at New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel. RR

Tips from the Concierge Don Starr has worked at the Roosevelt since 2007. If you’ve visited the hotel before, you may have seen him in the lobby providing guests information and recommendations. There are few people who know New Orleans better, especially as the city continues to grow and change — as do its various legendary events. Though the crowds are getting bigger, Starr has a few suggestions to make your visit to the Big Easy even easier. The key to having the New Orleans visit of your dreams is to plan ahead. As the numerous festivals, like Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras, grow in popularity, it becomes increasingly difficult to get a restaurant or tour reservations for guests on the fly, especially in the French Quarter. Calling ahead and planning with The Roosevelt Hotel’s staff makes a guest’s life much simpler. But for those who haven’t had that opportunity, Starr has a few suggestions off the beaten trail. “When they don’t make plans and we help, they’re in luck. New Orleans has a lot of great restaurants that are walk-in,” Starr says. “A lot of the restaurants also have full service at the bar. We encourage them to go to one of these other places that don’t take reservations. Usually that works out well. “I like to get people out-and-about and get them out of the Quarter, so Mandina’s, which is one of the iconic neighborhood restaurants, is something I always push. I’m always pushing Elizabeth’s. That’s another neighborhood restaurant.” The Roosevelt staff is more than happy to assist you in any instance and make your visit to New Orleans memorable. “We are still able to create a memorable experience off the cuff,” Starr says. “It’s nice if you have a game plan, but if you don’t have that luxury, we’re here to facilitate it and make it happen.”

THE Roosevelt Review 37


The Blue Room

E

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

38 THE Roosevelt Review

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 Year’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 city’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 society’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 court esy of the historic new orleans collection

A STUNNING COLLECTION OF 50 TRADITIONAL (AND SOME NON-TRADITIONAL) LOUISIANA RECIPES. AN ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE FOR YOUR KITCHEN, OR THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A LOUISIANA FOOD LOVER. Author Stanley Dry — Louisiana Life “Kitchen Gourmet” columnist, former senior editor of Food & Wine magazine and accomplished cook — brings all of the history, culture and spice together in his first book, The Essential Louisiana Cookbook, a Louisiana Life product by Renaissance Publishing. From classics, such as red beans and rice and a variety of delectable gumbos, to modern creations sure to become weeknight traditions, this collection of recipes will be a go-to for native Louisianans and those new to the state’s rich culinary landscape.

$16.95

TO ORDER VISIT LOUISIANACOOKBOOK.COM

THE Roosevelt Review 39


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

T

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 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

40 THE Roosevelt Review

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 THE Roosevelt Review 41


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 42 THE Roosevelt Review

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. 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!

THE Roosevelt Review 43


44 THE Roosevelt Review


a Waldorf Wonderland Holiday magic at The Roosevelt

A

A visit to The Roosevelt’s lobby

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

by carolyn kolb

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 Seymour Weiss sold the establishment to the Swig family and the Fairmont chain in the 1960s. (One quip of the time had it that S-W-I-G stood for “Seymour Weiss is Gone.”) The Roosevelt’s take on the holiday season was certainly noticeable to the population of children who grew up in the hotel. Louisiana State Court of Appeals Judge Max Tobias’ family lived in The Roosevelt. “I came there when I was born in 1947, and I left while in my second year of college,” he says. The apartment stayed in family hands until 2000, after the death of his mother. The Tobias family had a home in Covington, and spent every weekend there, so young Max could play outside. At The Roosevelt, he remembers, “I had a tricycle. I used to ride it in the hall.” As for pets, he says, “You could keep a bird or a turtle or a fish; at various times I had all three.” Neither Seymour Weiss nor the Tobias family observed Christmas, but the holiday was still marked for them with the hotel’s seasonal decorations. “I remember they put up a wire cage, a semi-circular arch from

University Place to Baronne Street (now Roosevelt Way). They would stuff that with spun glass, and decorate it with lights and ornaments. They had flocked trees on either side, all the way down, and ornaments and lights on the trees,” Tobias says. “They changed it slightly in the early ‘60s. At some point they remodeled the downstairs, and the display decreased in size and extravagance.” There was no Santa, “but if you wanted to see a Santa Claus you could look out the window onto Common Street and see the giant one in front of the Sears store.” The Tobiases’ fifth-floor lodging conveniently featured windows that faced Common Street. The Roosevelt – and its previous incarnation The Grunewald – no doubt decorated for the holidays, but the first mention of lobby decorations in The Roosevelt Review is in the January 1938 issue. In it, there is a photograph with the caption, “The Roosevelt lobby as it looked as a Christmas Promenade.” Star-like lights are strung from the ceiling, the chandeliers are lit, and small Christmas trees, decked with lights, line the hall. The January 1939 issue features a photograph of the lobby decorations, which seem to consist of tinsel icicles, large silver bells, greenery and lights.

THE Roosevelt Review 45


There is a large Christmas tree at the thatched roof hut that served as an entrance to the Hawaiian Blue Room, and the caption notes that “this is acclaimed by everyone as the most unusual and most beautiful Christmas decoration ever achieved in the South.” In January 1941, “Thousands of people thronged The Roosevelt Hotel’s beautiful lobby to see the Christmas decorations.” “The pattern most New Orleanians remember was set in 1949: the Angel Hair ceiling. According to The Roosevelt Review: “Each year this block long lobby is transformed into a glistening and beautiful holiday wonderland. Its multicolored ceiling of Angel Hair and lights are viewed and 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.

46 THE Roosevelt Review


48 THE Roosevelt Review

Pho to CO URTS EY OF General Pho tographic Agen cy/G etty Images


Huey Long and Friends Hotel’s most famous and infamous guest left lasting impression

H

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

THE Roosevelt Review 49


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 50 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


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

52 THE Roosevelt Review

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. RR


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.


Through the Years

The Roosevelt Way entrance of The Rooseveltwas adorned with lighted signs advertising the Blue Room and proclaiming it the “Home of Original Ramos’ Gin Fizz.” This photo is by Charles L. Franck Photographers

The Grunewald Hotel Annex on Roosevelt Way about 1918 showing the hotel’s rooftop lightbulb sign and the Orpheum Theater under construction in the foreground. This photo is by Charles L. Franck Photographers

The Pere Marquette and the newly rebuilt Jesuit Church seen on Baronne Street in the early 1930s. The photo is by Charles L. Franck Photographers.

Canal Street about 1883 showing the new Pickwick Club, with its large roof on Carondelet Street to the left.

54 THE Roosevelt Review

photographs courtesy of historic new orleans collection


The original 1893 Grunewald Hotel on Baronne Street, as it appeared about 1920, by Charles L. Franck Photographers. Part of the former Chess, Checkers and Whist Club is visible to the right.

The building at the corner of Canal and Roosevelt Way about 1950, with The Roosevelt in the background, by Charles L. Franck Photographers. The building is still standing and was once the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Co.

During the late 1920s Canal Street was New Orleans’ leading shopping district. The corner of Baronne Street is left of the background, and the hotel is just off Canal Street from here.

THE Roosevelt Review 55


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 clock’s sense of grandeur.


Roosevelt Review  

The official publication of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, published in 2016.

Roosevelt Review  

The official publication of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, published in 2016.