Mother’s Restaurant opened its doors in 1938 on Poydras Street’s “Restaurant Row”, situated between a thriving waterfront and the courthouse. Owners Simon and Mary (Mother) Landry and his large family cooked up po’ boys for lines of longshoremen and laborers, newspapermen and attorneys.
During and after World War II, Mother’s became a local hang-out for “the few and the proud” the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marine spirit was in the family – five of the seven Landry children (five sons and two daughters) joined the Marine Corps. Francis Landry was the first woman in Louisiana to be accepted into the Corps. This special association with the Marines earned Mother’s the title of “TUN Tavern New Orleans” in the late ’60s. The original TUN tavern was the official birthplace of the Marines during the Revolutionary War.
Mother’s is not just a part of this great American tradition, but also stands as a uniquely New Orleans institution. The likes of other family-owned local businesses such as D.H. Holmes Department Stores, K&B Drug Stores, MacKenzie’s Bakery, and Werlein’s Music have all departed from the landscape, while Mother’s Restaurant has not only remained almost exactly the same, but has flourished.
In 1986, the Jerry and John Amato bought Mother’s from the Landry’s sons Jacques and Eddie. With the changing of the guard, many things were added but nothing, fortunately, lost. Jerry Amato, chef and proprietor, doubled the already dizzying size of the menu. Now traditional New Orleans dishes like jambalaya and Shrimp Creole line-up next to the po’ boys that Mother’s made famous, such as the Ferdi Special and the debris po-boy (for a history of these and other sandwiches on the Fun Facts page). Breakfast, lunch and dinner items are cooked with fresh ingredients and bold, delicious flavor.
You will still see longshoremen in boots and you’ll find plenty of locals rubbing elbows in line with visitors, veterans, politicians and movie stars. Mother’s remains true to its working class origins. Nobody gets treated better (or worse) than anybody else. As Jerry Amato says, “Everybody gets fed. Everybody comes back.”
So go ahead, join ranks with the not-so-few, but intensely proud – The Mother’s Crowd.
For over 22 years Oda Mae Peters ran the roost in the kitchen at Mother’s. Through three sets of owners, from Simon and Mary Landry to their sons Jacques and Eddy, and on to Jerry and John Amato, Miss Mae endured as the heart and soul of Mother’s cooking. Often she was the only cook (and pulled dish duty too), missing only one day of work in 22 years – May 3, the flood of 1978. Her life and legacy live on at Mother’s, not only in the menu, but also in flesh and blood – five of her nieces and great nieces work there today.
Mr. Ferdi, a local merchant and regular Mother’s patron, probably had nothing more than a meaty
sandwich in mind when he asked that some ham be added to his roast beef po’ boy (or vice versa, the legend is hazy). But word got out and the combo was soon a hit. Voila! – the Ferdi Special was born.
Not to be outdone, Ferdi’s nephew Ralph one-upped his eccentric uncle by requesting cheese on his Ferdi Special, and got his own name on the menu.
Ever picked the shavings off a freshly carved roast? When a customer asked Simon Landry to add the bits of roast beef that had fallen into the gravy while he was carving it to his sandwich, he replied “you mean some of the debris?” And just like that, another definitive Mother’s term was coined.
Breakfast All Day
Try Mother’s Next Door! With its original exposed brick and gold plaster trim, Mother’s Next Door’s distressed warehouse feel lends every gathering the authenticity of tradition. The venue consists of two large rooms, the Dining Room and the Banquet Room.read more
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