Famous muffuletta shop illegally destroyed

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- The bricks for 724 St. Philip street were laid down in the 1820s, and in 1917 three Sicilian brothers by the family name of Montalbano purchased the small house from a widow and set up shop.

The front of the house became a delicatessen, and the back a grocery. The shop became known for the "Roma Sandwich" or the modern day muffuletta. The back room was filled with holy pictures and was allegedly bless by the Pope.

Leslie Perrin moved in next door at 728 St. Philip in 2000 and recalls the cast of "King Creole" lining up around the block to experience the original muffuletta.

The building is now owned by Larry Anderson, who obtained permits for interior renovations but demolished the entire building.

When the common wall between 724 and 728 St. Philip came tumbling down the residents became suspicious.

"At some point I said, 'I need to see some engineering, where are the plans that you promised me?'" Perrin's contractor husband Chuck remembers. "I wanted to see what the city has approved, you know, 'how are you going to do it?' And they kept saying well, I'll bring them over tomorrow."

But the proof of license never came.

According to Meg Lousteau, Executive Director of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, there were never permits. And Anderson did not show up to his hearing -- his contractor did on his behalf.

The fine: $6,000. A small price to pay for destroying a piece of history that makes up the fabric of the neighborhood.

As of Friday, October 23 the electricity on the lot was finally shut off which was good timing considering there were exposed wires, and exposed wires and the rain storm New Orleans got on Saturday do not mix well. In addition to the illegal demolition, the back of the lot is rented out to short-term renters, with the building in front being unsafe conditions.

The muffuletta lives on, but its rumored origins are gone forever.

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