The family that owns the local Pho Tau Bay chain of Vietnamese noodle houses plans to open new restaurants in Pennsylvania, where family members remain evacuated, but will also rebuild some of its New Orleans-area locations, according to family member Vy Banh. She says the Gretna location (113C West Bank Expwy.) suffered extensive roof damage but that the family is eager to reopen there. Gutting had been completed at the Mid-City location (216 N. Carrollton Ave.) and renovations are planned to start early in 2006 to "make it even better than before," Banh says. The future is less certain for the Metairie location (3116 N. Arnoult Road) primarily because of insurance issues. Plans are also unsettled for the extensively damaged downtown Pho Tau Bay Express (1565 Tulane Ave.). "We love our patrons who supported us from the beginning and, sure enough, we will return," says Banh.
The nonprofit Southern Foodways Alliance (www.southernfoodways.com) is organizing a volunteer effort to help rebuild Willie Mae's Scotch House (2401 St. Anne St., 822-9503), a classic backstreet joint that has received much praise and attention from the culinary world lately. Together with the Heritage Conservation Network (www.heritageconservation.net), another nonprofit that organizes hands-on architectural conservation workshops, the Alliance is recruiting volunteers to help restore the storm-damaged restaurant and the attached home of its owner, 90-year-old Willie Mae Seaton. The work is scheduled to be done over three weekends in January. Originally opened as a bar in the 1950s, Willie Mae's Scotch House was renowned for its fried chicken and other staples of casual local cooking. The alliance honored the restaurant with its Guardian of the Tradition award in July. The neighborhood restaurant also received an international honor this spring when the James Beard Foundation bestowed its America's Classics Award. The award recognizes restaurants that are "honest, true and beloved by their community," according to the foundation. Visit the Alliance online for volunteer information.
You still can't get a Hubig's pie in your belly, but you can get the company's distinctive logo on your back. The owners of Hubig's Pies (2417 Dauphine St., 945-2181; www.hubigs.com) hope to begin selling pies in local stores again in mid-January, but are doing business now online, promoting T-shirts and "baby onesies" as holiday gifts for homesick New Orleanians. The shirts feature the company's logo with "pie man" mascot Savory Simon. The company also plans to auction off a batch of the first pies to come off its production line next month in a commemorative box with other items. More information on the auction is available at www.hubigs.com.