‘People said it couldn’t be done’: Arnaud’s still thriving after 100 years in business

NEW ORLEANS -- In 1918, a French wine salesman founded what would become -- at the time -- the largest restaurant in New Orleans.

Arnaud Cazenav, dubbed "the count" by his closest friends -- opened Arnaud's Restaurant in the French Quarter.

"He studied to become a doctor and made his way to visit family in New York, and ended up loving America, and then made his way down New Orleans and found it intoxicating for all the reasons the rest of us find it intoxicating," Arnaud's  Co-proprietor Katy Casbarian explained.

So, why did he open up the restaurant? Because people said it couldn't be done.

"It was almost opened on a bet or on a dare that a French wine salesman couldn't open a restaurant.  So it started as an empty warehouse in the middle of Bienville Street," Casbarian said.

The restaurant was a smashing success, and the business continued to grow, but a challenge was looming in the distance -- Prohibition.

"Arnaud never stopped serving alcohol during prohibition. He was arrested numerous times, but was never actually imprisoned because legend has it that many of the judges were very good customers of Arnaud's and were enjoying what Count Arnaud was serving in the coffee cups at that time,"  Casbarian said.

Eleven buildings and 17 dining rooms later, Arnaud's has only been in two families.

Arnaud's daughter owned the restaurant for 30 years and was a Mardi Gras queen more than anyone else in her time.

She's honored in the restaurant's Mardi Gras Museum.

His daughter sold the restaurant to the second and current family -- the Casbarians.

Although some recipes have changed over 100 years, the recipe for success remains the same.

"There's certain menu items that have been on the menu since 1918, including Shrimp Arnaud, which is our version of the remoulade," Casbarian said. "We were the first to take the mayonnaise base out and use a mustard base."

Cheers to Arnaud's! Here's to 100 more.