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Anthony & Gail Uglesich
On May 7, 2005, restaurateurs Anthony and Gail Uglesich retired and shuttered their Central City restaurant, Uglesich’s. The corner of Baronne and Erato streets hadn’t been so quiet since at least 1928, when Anthony’s father, an immigrant from Yugoslavia, opened a modest sandwich and fried seafood shop there. The single-room, worn-in building gave the impression that nothing had changed over the restaurant’s seven-plus decades, but Uglesich’s fans knew better. In the 1970s, Anthony and Gail began adding to the menu, first dirty rice and gumbo, and then Voodoo Shrimp, Muddy Water, Paul’s Fantasy – dishes built upon locally sourced seafood and with unrestricted imagination. Lemongrass, fermented black beans, chili paste, ginger, and rice vinegar didn’t keep the restaurant from feeling, and even somehow tasting, like New Orleans distilled.
Anthony and Gail still pore over cooking magazines and watch the Food Network with notebook and pencil at the ready. They experiment constantly in their home kitchen and don’t entirely discount the possibility of working again someday. Hurricane Katrina and an extended evacuation period in Tennessee threw a wrench into the couple’s plans to slow down, though slowing down has never been their strong suit. When they had the restaurant, Gail started working every morning at 4:30. At least now she takes naps.