Valdosta's own Flavor of New Orleans - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta's own Flavor of New Orleans

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 29, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - With Gustav bearing down on the gulf coast, New Orleans natives are marking the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

That storm killed more than 1800 people caught in its path and forced thousands more to flee their homes.  It's a storm Louisiana native Brian Antoine will never forget.

"Coming back to the city, it was pretty devastating to see all the homes destroyed all the neighborhoods.  My grandfather's house where I was born, the house was just totally gone," Antoine recalls.

That storm changed his life.  His family packed up the few belongings that had survived Katrina's wrath and moved to Georgia.

"Valdosta, Georgia.  We never heard of it but let's go to Valdosta.  And we love it.  We've really grown to love it," Antoine says.

With him he's brought the spirit and flavor of his old community, to share with his new one.  Antoine opened the Flavor of New Orleans restaurant in downtown Valdosta last year. 

It's now one of the most popular restaurants in the city.  "I was afraid to open.  When I first opened the doors I didn't know if anyone would come but it's been pretty steady."

The community is glad he did.

"It reminds me of home.  I'm from New Orleans myself and the food, it tastes just like home.  I've been trying to find somewhere authentic and I've found it," says customer Calvin Watson.

"A lot of times when you go to a restaurant that's from somewhere else or a different culture, food looses the flavor when it moves away from there but it maintained the flavor of New Orleans here," adds Robert Peak.

And Antoine is happy he's keeping his home town spirit alive. 

Antoine hopes by the fourth anniversary of Katrina, he will have expanded the restaurant to include more space, more bands and more authentic flavors of New Orleans.

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