Well, it’s the tenth anniversary of Katrina, the storm that changed everything. While the dark cloud was much larger than its silver lining, we’d like to focus on that silver lining for a minute and talk about the story of Felipe’s, because that’s what made it possible for us to exist.
Elio and Tim Todaro ran a quaint – and bustling – wine shop called Elio’s Wine Warehouse. If you’re reading this, you probably already know all about it. Elio owned a small building across the parking lot from the wine shop which, like the rest of the city, Katrina had rendered an empty shell. He hatched an idea to convert it into an Italian restaurant, but his friend, Rob Stumm, convinced him to travel up to Boston and see what his cousin was doing with Mexican food. They took the trip and visited a small but astoundingly popular taqueria just blocks away from Harvard, owned and run by Tom Brush (Rob’s cousin) and a Oaxacan guy named Felipe.
Elio liked the idea, and, to make a long story short, the four of them opened the Uptown Felipe’s. Post Katrina, we were one of the first places to pop up, and our amazing neighbors embraced us with open arms. We’ll always be grateful to the Red Cross for their help after the storm, but after several months of those packaged meals, the thought of a fresh burrito, taco, or quesadilla really gets the mouth watering!
This was also the birth of the Felipe’s bar, with its fresh-squeezed key lime margaritas. Actually, it took us a while to get our liquor license, so we were giving away margaritas for free in the beginning. It felt natural after the storm. Everyone was in such a giving mood in those days.
Since 2006, we’ve opened three more Felipe’s, all in the New Orleans area. You guys have supported us the whole way, and we appreciate it more than you could know. In a month, we are going to try our hand in another state, opening a Felipe’s in Naples, Florida! Keeping the food fresh, the recipes authentic, and not cutting corners is a playbook that we think can work anywhere. That’s why we don’t franchise out. We keep everything in house and New Orleans-owned.
Wish us luck out there and we hope to do y’all proud!