by Ian McNulty
A good time is a good cause in my book, and in the pursuit of such I've racked up some pretty high bills at Galatoire's Restaurant -- but nothing even close to the money that was thrown around inside the landmark Creole restaurant this week in the name of truly worthy causes.
Monday marked the latest in a series of events Galatoire's has hosted to auction off seats to its most coveted lunch dates, with the proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. In less than an hour, the restaurant raised $58,000 to benefit the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) and the Citizens Organization for Police Support in the 8th District (COPS 8). In return, the winning bidders get the right to reserve their seats for lunch service on Feb. 1, the Friday before Mardi Gras.
Galatoire's has held similar auctions for seats to its Friday lunches before both Christmas and Mardi Gras since 2006. It was a novel solution to what had become a real problem for the restaurant. These lunches before the big holidays are serious traditions for some people and are well-known as rollicking, rambunctious upper-class bacchanals. Galatoire's does not accept reservations for the first floor dining room, where most people
want to sit, so to ensure a table some regulars began gaming the restaurant's first-come, first-seated policy by paying others to stand in line for them. What evolved was the spectacle of college students, domestic help, office interns and some people who appeared to be homeless waiting in line in the weather over a full day in advance on the behalf of well-heeled patrons.
The auctions are a nice work-around for Galatoire's. Since 2006, the restaurant's devotees have ponied up a total of $358,000 for nonprofits in exchange for the right to sit first. The bids, which can go as high as $1,000 a seat for some tables, do not cover the expense of the meals or bar bills - themselves.
Contributions from this most recent auction will help fund the LA/SCPA's spay and neutering program and purchase two golf cart-style patrol vehicles for the NOPD's 8Th District.
- Ian McNulty