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Editor B

When I saw that headline I knew I would have no sense of closure until I read your analysis. Thanks for putting it out there.


Doesn't Eddie Sapier have a share in Clancy's? Do you think that ready Eddie might have a little to do with Greg not getting the zoning and permitting he needs? Can you say conflict of interest? It's a shame that Sonnier tried the shady route, but it's also a shame that we don't have his cuisine in the neighborhood.


And the good citizens of uptown can sleep safely knowing they have vanquished the evil spectre of having a world-class restuarants in the neighborhood.


Clark, Sonnier could easily apply for a zoning variance, but he has not and (according to the article) will not. I have no idea why. I just wish he would have been on the up and up the whole time, and then maybe, he'd have his restaurant by now.

Sapir was vehemently opposed to the conversion of the Uptowner to a restaurant, but I don't know if it is because of Clancy's or not. I have heard that he is a partner in Monkey Hill Bar, and they are perhaps looking at expanding to food service.

Fine by me, but Monkey Hill ain't got no draft beer, so I quit going there.

And as much as Will bitches about corrupt politicians in NOLA, one would think he would be one to applaud an honest politician. Alas, one would be incorrect.

Perhaps, like Mr. Rose, Will would rather have slow roasted duck with corruption sauce.


I echo Bart. I saw that headline and immediately thought of you. Awwwwww...

Richard P.

Back to Stupid Tulane sports fan/Cowen apologist tricks, they're all up in arms at the

One group who still looooves Jay Batt.


I'm digging Midura more and more every day:



I think there is some credence to your Eddie S. speculation. I think he and his buds from Clancy's and Monkey Hill may have had their eyes on that property from the get go. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't purchase it and get it rezoned in the not so distant future.

Southern Leftist

Midura has been getting a raw deal on this issue. Those two frat brothers deserve each other. Speaking as a fellow foodlover, I can't believe how unreasonably the foodlover community has reacted to this and how lacking in facts they are. They are blinded by words like "James Beard Award" as if it was the Nobel Peace Prize. Sorry folks, Greg Sonnier is not the most credible guy in the room. Midura has proven herself in the arena of City Hall taking on the city's toughest issues. This idea that she was afraid to get involved or made some backroom deal with Sapir speaks against the rest of the volume of her work over the last year. She shoved her Inspector General legislation down the throat of City Hall. Lotsa powerful interests fought her on that issue and she still pushed it through. She deserves more credit than she got for that.

Greg Sonnier and his minions can go to hell.

Blow Hard

Jay Batt was an SAE
Greg Sonnier was a DKE


Agreed. That was exactly my reaction. I like the Sonniers, truly, but there is a process for getting a variance, and it didn't seem like they wanted to do their homework. Moreover, there are probably lot's of other locations already zoned for restaurants that would be suitable. If they wait a while, Felix's Oyster Restaurant on Prytania will probably go under, and that would be an absolutely gorgeous location for Gabrielle's. Boo hoo. Shelley is kicking ass on people who have the attitude that they're somehow owed special favors, and that represents (in case anyone forgot) the attitude of "the New New Orleans" which we all decided was long overdue after Katrina kicked our collective ass.


I can't believe we have a consensus on Midura. Somebody has to dis her....Jeffrey? Anyone? This may be a first in New Orleans politics...a city official everyone digs.


See above: Will. Of course, he's never voted, but that doesn't stop him from complaining about her.


Just to clarify, as someone who knows the Chef personally... Greg Sonnier has no personal relationship with Batt whatsoever and never did. Greg didn't even vote for him in the last election! He voted for Midura! I don't know where you get your info from... but you are just wrong. It seems that with the rise of the Bush administration people seem to think that they can make things true just by saying them.

The Sonniers may have misinterpreted the license the uptowner had (which listed the Uptowner as a "Restaurant with Table Service") but they never got involved in dirty political deals. The Sonniers are good people.


Hi Sarah. If you read the older posts I link to, I say that the link to Batt from Sonnier goes through Kearney, who is friends with both.

My only question is, why has Sonnier given up? Why didn't he apply for a zoning variance?


I am not always a Midura fan but she did the right thing. From what I gathered the neighbors were not too thrilled with a resteraunt in their neighborhood, I think Shelly represented the feelings of her constituents. It is time for the good ol boys cronyism to leave the New Orleans political scene.


The Sonniers have decided not to pursue a restaurant at that location because it is going to take far too long (anywhere from a year to four years) to change the zoning of the building and there is no real guarantee that they will get the variance. As a family who is not independently wealthy with a young daughter and another just entering college they don't have the time or resources to keep paying the mortgage and expenses on a building they are not able to use. Greg is currently pursuing work elsewhere.

I don't think it's that unreasonable... and all of this can be read on their website.



"Speaking of abandon, that's what Sonnier did to mid-city with his old restaurant."

The Sonniers had wanted to move out of that location long before Katrina happened. The building was too small and because it was on such a small piece of property there was no way to make it larger.

A tree fell through the roof of the restaurant during the storm and the cost of repair was pretty high. As the Sonniers had been planning on moving at some point anyway, it seemed more prudent to sell the building.

I'm not sure how you can fault them for that...


First -- I was at the ARNA meeting right before the election where Jay Batt said "Greg is a fraternity brother and close personal friend so I'm going to help him out."

Second -- Zoning changes take around 90 to 120 days and I know that ARNA had received assurance from Midura that she would fast track their request as it was a local business.

I don't trust a single word that comes out of the Sonnier's mouth. They've lied throughout this process - the whopper was the one that had Midura and Sapir making a backroom deal. Midura has never even MET SAPIR!!!!!

Here's the lesson: Buy the property AFTER your corrupt buddy gets re-elected or DON"T ELECT HONEST AND ETHICAL PEOPLE!!!


I don't know why Batt would have said that considering that he was NOT a DKE (Greg was), Batt was an SAE. In addition, they are not good friends. Batt even sent out a letter to the neighborhood saying that he would not support the opening of a restaurant at that location.

The Zoning changes take that long in a perfect system. Due to the current political state of things and the opposition by the neighbors the process would take a lot longer than normal.

Anyway, it seems like you have made up your mind about these people, even though you don't have any of the facts.
So, I won't comment further. Except to say that they have decided not to pursue it further, therefor I don't understand what the problem is now.

Get over it and move on, they are.



I tend not to trust Batt. He did send out a letter saying he would not support the restaurant. He also sent similar letters full of lies to the residents around Stuart Hall and Bruno's.

As I've said before, I don't live near the Uptowner, so whether or not it became a restaurant has little direct impact on me. However, does it not seem odd that Mr Sonnier never even applied for the variance?

Again, one would think that "a family who is not independently wealthy" would have done a bit of due diligence before dropping $700k on a building that isn't zoned to be a restaurant. Of course, you may have a different definition of "wealthy" than I do. Perhaps Mr Sonnier does as well.

As I stated in one of my prior posts, he actually used the phrase "loophole that could be exploited".

Wow. Is it really so hard to try to do things the right way, or are people just so blinded by the quality of Mr Sonnier's cooking that they'll overlook silly little things like, oh, the law?

Reading Mr Sonnier's diatribe against Ms Midura leads me to believe that he did vote for Mr Batt, despite what Sarah says.

As far as Batt and Sonnier being frat brothers, that's what my source told me. I *do* know that Kearney is the go-between, and they all attended Tulane at the same time.

My whole interest in this has been twofold: 1) whether things would be "bidness as usual", where connected guys like Sonnier can blatantly ignore zoning regs, and get whatever they want ex post facto, and 2) why this whole thing has been constructed as an evil plan by Shelley Midura.

I certainly hope that Mr Sonnier can find a legal location to locate his restaurant. I know the good people of Mid-City could use another restaurant right now.


Oh, and Sarah/Isabel/whatever...please pick a name and stick with it.


Sarah/Isabel --
I'm not sure why he would say that either considering there were only 50 or so witnesses.

I know about the letter you are talking about but this was not his initial response to this situation but his response to the opposition to his declaration just prior to the election that he would "help his dear freind and fraternity brother Greg Sonnier get his restaraunt open.". Btw, Batt has a track record doing this Bruno's so its not like this is a stretch.

The Zoning change does not take that long, period. Show me one that has. in the past 120 days. You can't.

The level of opposition doesn't matter on how long it wouldve taken.

You are correct that I have made up my mind in this matter because for me this is a black and white issue and not something that is the least bit confusing and it is something that the Sonniers are responsible for, not Midura.

The facts are not in dispute here.

He knew prior to purchasing the property he could not open a restaraunt there because of the zoning.

Ive heard him say this as have many others.

because of that there just isnt any basis for youre argument.

bobbie brown

Some of you folks continue to ignore the fact that the Uptowner was sold as a business with an occupational license that clearly stated "Restaurant-with table service". This description is not vague at all.
The Uptowner had been up "For Sale" for several years prior to the Sonniers purchasing it. Ironically, at one point we had looked at it to purchase to use as it was, a "Reception Hall" but were scared away by the occupational license it held for a "restaurant". It seemed crazy that it would be a problem since it had operated as a reception hall for so long, but we have done business in New Orleans for a while and decided that what is not clear in this town can only be trouble. The non- conforming zoning held by the location does not clarify anything. If the structure doesn't change and the business doesn't intensify than there is no need for a zoning variance. But who decides if the Restaurant business is more intense than a full time catering and reception hall facility? It could go either way.
I suppose the neighbors concerns could have been remedied for good had they all got together and purchased the property. Then they could decide the future of the site.
I am a small business owner, and it's a tough thing to be in this place, it was pre-K and it's not gotten any easier. I just don't see how New Orleans can continue to claim to want business, and boast a "business friendly" environment when the city can't properly permit a business.

ron mexico

i'm trying to think of an analogy to help explain why the restaurant license argument is moot.

let's say you are a hunter and you purchase a hunting license. you then take that license and go and shoot yourself a bald eagle. the feds say, "what the hell are you doing, the bald eagle is a protected species." well you cannot then defend yourself by saying you have a hunting license and that there is no mention of no killing bald eagles on your hunting license and that it's the fault of the feds for not being more explicit. in that same sense, zoning trumps all else in land use.

definitely agree that the city code needs more clarity, and on that point the city has an obligation to fix the code to define the difference between a restaurant and a reception hall instead of classifying both as a restaurant in the licensing definition which is out of sync with the zoning code. i think it's a bit unfair though to lay that at the feet of midura. she's trying to fix it now, but she did not create the problem. and again, that's the lesser point to be made. any confusion with your hunting license still doesn't give you the right to shoot that bald eagle. or let's say it's the riparian brush rabbit and you honestly did not know the riparian brush rabbit was on the list of protected species and you killed yourself one. now you might get some leniency from the feds, but it doesn't mean you get to keep killing them until the feds put it explicitly into your hunting license that you cannot hunt and kill riparian brush rabbits.

it is even greater folly to ask the feds to change the law for you because you just bought yourself a $700,000 riparian brush rabbit hunting rifle. maybe that riparian bush rabbit is making a comeback and may be coming off the list soon, but they have to go though the process before it comes off. they cannot take it off the list for you just because you bought yourself that nice fancy new riparian brush rabbit hunting rifle. the most you are entitled to is maybe asking if they can help you fix your gun so it can hunt what's already legal or maybe help you find a new rifle that isn't so limited in what it can do.

as far as the rules of nonconforming use and the intensity issue, it's pretty plain to see that operating a couple times a month as a reception hall is less intense than operating 5 days a week as a restaurant. i don't know how that's not a clear increase in intensity of use.

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