Willie Mae's Scotch House is well-known for its fried chicken, which has a crunchy, golden exterior with a gently peppery backbeat, as well as meals including smothered veal, lima beans, and pork chops.
It is one of the city's oldest Black-owned eateries, with a strong sense of community and family. The legendary New Orleans restaurant, which has been a neighborhood fixture for decades, is facing a difficult new chapter.
The word broke at 3 a.m. Monday , April 10, that Willie Mae's Scotch House was on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured because the restaurant was closed. An electrical fire triggered the sprinkler system, causing both the restaurant and the sprinkler system to be seriously damaged, according to an extensive investigation.
While the front door at the intersection of St. Ann and North Tonti streets still appears to be ready to swing open and greet visitors, severe fire and smoke damage can be seen along the rear of the ancient structure and over its roof.
The well-known black-owned chain restaurant has had tremendous success in the culinary business for many years. The restaurant received the James Beard Foundation's America's Classics Award in 2005, which celebrates restaurants that "serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities." Only a few months later, the restaurant and its surrounding neighborhood were decimated by the levee collapses caused by Hurricane Katrina. A lengthy reconstruction project became a rallying point for a larger network of supporters.
Many travel and culinary TV shows started calling, and the restaurant rapidly became a bucket list destination for foodie travelers. A queue often forms around the restaurant's weatherboard side. President Barack Obama even stopped in for lunch in 2015, on a visit commemorating the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Willie Mae's has established a GoFundMe for anyone who can contribute, where 100% of the revenue will go towards paying their personnel and covering any further costs not covered by insurance. They are eager to reopen as soon as possible.