I had waited far too long to go back to Mary Mahoney’s.
On our drive down to the recent Mississippi Press Association Summer Convention, Pam, Erin and I were talking about places we wanted to eat. I mentioned Mary Mahoney’s. Erin asked Pam and I about it. She’d never been.
When we described it, she immediately said, “I want to go.”
I ate at Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant for the first time about 30 years ago. It was during one of my first trips ever to Biloxi after moving over to Mississippi from Alabama.
My boss at the time in the newspaper business not only took her employees attending the convention but invited other friends, too. We filled one of those long tables.
Much like Erin this time around, it was a dining experience that I’d never experienced before.
We went on Friday, after some morning sessions, for a late lunch. The food, as always, was outstanding. At the recommendation of our waiter, I chose fried soft shell crab almandine. Pam had shrimp and crab alfredo and Erin a seafood casserole with broccoli and lots of cheese. We all enjoyed dessert, too, sherbert for myself and bread pudding for the two of them.
And speaking of our waiter, he was simply the best ever. His kindness made the experience even more delightful.
As we were concluding our meal, I was talking to Tony J. about the many years he has worked at Mary Mahoney’s. I asked him about the days around Hurricane Katrina (in 2005).
He was left homeless by the storm, but his boss and other good friends at the restaurant stepped up to help. He was tearing up, and so were we.
Mary Mahoney’s, unlike many businesses on the coast, was able to bounce back.
Tony J. talked about the large tree and his boss asked him to “clean it up” after the storm. The Patriarch, as it is known, is the focal point of the courtyard at Mary Mahoney’s. Its age is thought to be over 2,000 years old. Oh, yes, it survived Hurricane Camille, too (1969). Its roots pop out of the cellar floor.
“Have you seen it?” Tony J. asked. “Come on. I will take you on a tour.”
The bulk of the lunch crowd had left. We were three of probably seven left in the restaurant.
He opened up the cellar door and pointed to the roots, all the time talking about its beauty and its significance to the restaurant.
Then we saw the line marking how high the water had risen during Hurricane Katrina. Agood ways below was the line marking the water from Hurricane Camille.
We went on to see beautiful, historic artwork, all the time getting descriptions and information from Tony J.
He talked about the many photos on the wall of those famous folks who had visited one of Biloxi’s most famous landmarks, including the likes of Jimmy Carter, Usher, Robert Redford, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Denzel Washington, Diana Ross and Dick Clark.
The Old French House, dated in the 1737-era, was converted to a restaurant by the Mahoney family and opened in 1964.
Thank goodness, it’s still there and better than ever.