Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

New Orleans Restaurant + A Birthday Wish Come True

All it takes is a few minutes in conversation, and the New Orleans in me will about near slap you in the face.

If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s where I come from. And as any New Orleanian can attest, it’s an affinity you can’t shake, nor would you ever want to. Case in point is the New Orleans-style restaurant & bakery—smack dab in the middle of Arlington, Virginia—that is a product of our family’s time, money and fervor for the Bayou. Seeing people walk the streets of DC with goatees of powdered sugar (the kind of joy only a New Orleans beignet can bring), well ladies and gentlemen… that’s fulfillment.

In all seriousness, I experienced a different kind of fulfillment last week, as it relates to my hometown and our on-going recovery from Hurricane Katrina. For the past six years, I’ve been working pro bono with the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit dedicated to funding and rebuilding the homes of hurricane victims. It was the wish of New Orleans restaurant owner Drago Cvitanovich (of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant) to raise $90,000 dollars for his 90th birthday in support of the organization. The seafood restaurant put forth 100% of its July 11 sales proceeds, roughly $35,000, in hopes that the people of New Orleans could raise the rest.

Restaurant-owner Drago Cvitanovich and family of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant (

Link to New Orleans WWLTV coverage

The day was one big celebration—something New Orleans does very well. Drago’s Restaurant served food all day long at their Metairie location and had a cake ceremony mid-afternoon. And not only did the people of New Orleans meet the restaurant’s goal for donations, but they exceeded it by raising what appears to total over $100,000. The phenomenal success in all this is that three New Orleans families will be returning to their homes. Absolutely incredible… Click here to see PHOTOS

A special thanks to Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and everyone in New Orleans that made this whole thing possible for the St. Bernard Project. A community’s response to those in need is a direct reflection of its people, and in my opinion, New Orleans has some pretty good people. Take it or leave it.

I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez…

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