Victor Pastor manages the Copper Monkey Grill (725 Conti St., 504-527-0869; www.coppermonkeygrill.com), but he has been affiliated with the company since it opened in 2006.
"I either drank there or I worked there," he says, "but I've been here the whole time."
Pastor says the food, drinks and business hours are what set the Copper Monkey apart from other French Quarter restaurants.
"It's hard to find a good rib-eye steak at three in the morning," he says, "but — for sure — we've got it. We're open almost all day. We just close to clean up, reset, and then we're open again."
Even though other French Quarter spots are open late, "it's a far cry to eat anything that's actually decent," he says.
Pastor thinks of the Copper Monkey as a safe haven of sorts.
"It's nice to have a place that's half a block off Bourbon Street, that's not nearly as crazy, not nearly as loud," he says. "(It's) a place to sit down and have a cold beer and relax away from the hubbub of the street, but still be in the French Quarter."
Pastor credits the bar's success to word-of-mouth, specifically from service industry workers.
"As the night goes on, you'll get people coming off their shifts after serving everyone else," Pastor says. "All the bartenders, door men, dancers and everyone come in so they can unwind and relax."
This creates what Pastor calls a family atmosphere.
"Everyone loves each other, everyone knows each other," he says. "It's a lot of hugging, a lot of kissing, a lot of 'I haven't seen you in so long.'"
The Copper Monkey's frequent customers have even shaped the menu. The "Whitney Special" is a dish named after a regular. Pastor calls the popular item a "drunken heaven of carbs."
"Whitney was a regular, and she had this favorite drunken meal," he says. "Word spread about the 'Whitney Special' and we kept making it over and over again. ... Eventually we just added it to the menu."
The dish combines mashed potatoes, chicken tenders, bacon and cheese, and exemplifies why customers return.
"I think our consistency is a strong point," Pastor says about the menu and the familiar atmosphere employees create. "Part of our plan is to stay the way we are, because that's really what (customers) want."
Pastor describes the bar as a welcoming spot filled with smiling faces, where dependability has retained customers since the beginning and makes new ones become regulars.
"Everyone comes back," Pastor says. "They meet back up at the Monkey when it's all said and done."