Evelyn’s Place: Home Of The Old Bitch And The Old Bastard

Growing up in rural Tennessee,  Evelyn Redman had a dream: To get the Hell out of McMinn County and see what the rest of the world had to offer. New Orleans seemed as good a place as any so she hit the open road and ended up in South Louisiana working at a bar called “TV Lounge”.

Reportedly the first bar in New Orleans to feature a television set, it’s proximity to the fine dining restaurant Vieux Carre’ meant it provided a welcoming watering hole for the restaurants staff.

Trouble was, they were coming into work a mite saucy so the owner, Frank, decided to investigate. Which is how Frank and Evelyn fell in love.

Frank’s path to New Orleans was a bit different. His brother decided to leave Massachusetts to matriculate at Tulane in the early 1950’s and Frank decided to investigate the city his brother bragged about so much.

He never left.

Stonehenge, the bar now known as Evelyn’s Place originated around 1915 as a watering hole for English sailors. The name came about because it provided an easy reference point for the lonely seaman.

In Frank’s words: “100 years ago this place was hoppin with all the Merchant Marines coming in here on leave.We didn’t have stools then cause the lads would get so drunk we were afraid they’d hurt themselves when they fell off.We’d just drag em out in the morning and leave em on the curb for the garbage collectors. Now we’re here for the service industry folks. They gotta have a place they can come to when they get off so they can gripe about how tough they got it.”

Frank’s going to turn 90 this year and he’s still whip smart.

He produces a picture of Vieux Carre, a fine dining restaurant he owned on Bourbon for 35 years. “Oh, those were the days,  the folks really got dressed up back then. Bourbon Street was classy.”

I ask for details about Evelyn and he walks around the bar and shows me some great old photographs.”She was the old bitch and I’m the old bastard”.

The vagaries of time being what they are Evelyn passed in 2007 at the age of 59.

Evelyn was quite the looker in her youth with a thick mane of lustre-y hair, cigarette in one hand and cocktail in the other. Though her passing was untimely,  the old bastard carries on.

More from Frank: “You gotta earn your tips in this industry. Too many of these young bartenders just pour the drink and walk away. You gotta converse with these people. Give ’em something to talk about when they go home”

He tells me about how when he gets some young fillies [ middle age women ] in the bar he gets ’em behind the bar to pose with a bottle of liquor while their friends snap a picture. Then he pinches their rear and everybody has a good laugh.

Old school bartenders like Frank are getting hard to come by. I strongly recommend a visit to Evelyns Place. Walking in the history hits hard. Ancient stone floors, walls stained brown like old leather from all the smoke of decades past. The menu runs towards sandwiches each coming with a cup of Red Beans and Rice. A cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon will set you back 2 bucks, the conversation is free and there is a great jukebox with Louis Prima over in the corner. Frank tells me about how Louis met Keely Smith 50 or so years ago when she was a young broad busking on Bourbon St. He liked the way she sang and the rest became history.

Time comes for me to leave so we say our goodbyes. Frank tells me about how when he was a young man 100 years ago he had an Indian motorbike with a sidecar to put all the young honeys in as he sported about town. He cautions me to be careful as I make my way back to Texas. There’s a warmth and charm beneath the bluster that resonates in me as I ride across the Quarter through a gentle Summer rain.

139 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Editor’s note: Parts of this article were appended from an old review I posted on Chowhound.

About RL Reeves Jr

I’m a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This entry was posted in DRINK, New Orleans. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Evelyn’s Place: Home Of The Old Bitch And The Old Bastard

  1. Pingback: On This Day In 2008: Frank Louis Cimini At Evelyn’s Place In New Orleans | Scrumptious Chef

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *