Tommy Cvitanovich, co-owner of Drago's Restaurant (3232 N. Arnoult St., Metairie, 888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com), was selected by the National Restaurant Association as winner of this year's Restaurant Neighbor Award, which recognizes restaurateurs who give back to their communities. Drago's was opened in 1970 by Cvitanovich's parents, Drago and Klara, who emigrated from Croatia. When war broke out there in the 1990s, the Cvitanovich family marshaled a local humanitarian effort to send shipping containers of supplies to the battered region. Most recently, Cvitanovich and his family responded to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina by preparing and serving free meals from their restaurant, first to the workers trying to fill the 17th Street Canal levee breach and eventually to anyone in need. At the peak of the effort, they were serving 3,500 meals a day from a restaurant that had no electricity and by the end of eight weeks had served an estimated 77,000 free meals.
101 and Counting
If 100 years in business is something to celebrate, then so too is 101 years — especially when that last year included crawling back from ruinous flood damage after Hurricane Katrina. Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionary (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-1465; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com) will have some celebrating to do this weekend when the landmark Mid-City gelato parlor and Italian bakery reopens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 23. Brocato marked its centennial in 2005, and unveiled a fresh renovation of its shop just weeks before Hurricane Katrina flooded its neighborhood. The shop's interior has been completely rebuilt and the family owners say they intend to keep their interrupted 100th anniversary celebration going through 2006, with some new flavors they planned to offer last year served in centennial ceramic dishes. Brocato had supplied countless restaurants and hotel kitchens before the storm and Arthur Brocato says that service will resume as well.
Uptown Groceries Benefit Backstreet Culture
Whole Foods Market's Arabella Station store (5600 Magazine St., 889-9119; www.wholefoods.com) is continuing a series of benefit shopping days it has held for local causes since reopening last spring. On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Uptown store will donate 5 percent of its sales from the day to the Backstreet Cultural Museum (1116 St. Claude Ave., 522-4806; www.backstreetmuseum.org), a nonprofit dedicated to preserving some of the cityÕs unique cultural traditions, such as second-line parades and Mardi Gras Indians. On Saturday, Sept. 23, both the Uptown Whole Foods and the Metairie location (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 888-8225) will also sponsor an event with Children's Hospital (www.chnola.org), including cooking demonstrations of recipes geared toward children, art displays made with vegetables, and other activities to celebrate National Family Day, which is Sept. 25.