Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Red Maple | Gretna Icon

5 generations of the Trauth family starting with Emma Trauth Whiteside have operated restaurants in Gretna for 100 years! Here's my article on the family's iconic Red Maple Restaurant that ran in The West Bank Beacon last year:

Emily “Emma” Kerner Trauth Whiteside opened her first restaurant in the early 1900’s. Whiteside Sandwich Shop was located on Kepler Street between Franklin Avenue and Stumpf Boulevard – across from Da Wabbit.

Years later, Emma moved the operation to a new building at Fifth Street and Stumpf Boulevard. It was there that Whiteside’s became a Gretna institution. Until the 1950’s, the restaurant, bar, reception hall and local gathering place was open 24/7. Whiteside’s flourished. The whole Trauth family worked at Whiteside’s including Emma’s 2 sons, Herbert and Elbert Trauth. Elbert and his wife Stella had 3 children: Marvin, Marian and Dorothy “Dottie” who would all be involved in the family business for decades to come.

Emma Whiteside died in 1962 at the age of 81. For a short time after her death, it was business as usual at Whiteside’s. Her granddaughters Marian and Dottie worked the kitchen and Jack Sullivan, Marian’s husband, tended bar. In early 1963, the family made the decision to rent Whiteside’s to another businessman who opened it as El Swingo’s.

In early 1963, Marian and Jack Sullivan opened a new lunch spot – “new” Whiteside’s on 2nd Street near the Gretna courthouse. In April 1963 Marvin Trauth converted Emma’s house at 1036 Lafayette Street into a bar. A red maple tree in the side yard inspired the name of the bar – The Red Maple.

In 1965, Marvin converted his parents’ single shotgun house next door into the first dining room with 12–15 tables. The Red Maple was a full service restaurant specializing in steaks and has been in business ever since. Two more dining rooms were added in the 1970’s, and with that expansion, the menu grew and business took off.

Marvin Trauth died in 1980 at which time his sisters, Marian and Dottie, stepped up to the plate. Dottie ran things at the Maple during the day and Marian, who worked lunches at Whiteside’s by the courthouse, ran the Maple at night.

When Whiteside’s by the courthouse closed, Marian and Dottie ran the Maple together until Dottie’s death in 2000. Marian was left to run the whole show at the Maple. In 2002, Marvin’s son Brent Trauth bought all shares of The Red Maple and after an 8-month renovation, re-opened in 2003. Today Brent along with his brother Marvin operate the restaurant and bar.

The menus are extensive. In addition to a regular lunch menu offering local favorites like an 8 oz. hamburger steak ($11.95) and seafood platters ($17.95-$25.95), 2 special menus are offered. The Panini sandwich menu offers 8 sandwiches including a French dip au jus ($9.95), grilled or blackened shrimp topped with swiss cheese ($12.95), and a Reuben with homemade corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese ($9.95).

The summer salad menu offers 8 lunch salads including the Red Maple salad ($11.95), an Asian chicken salad ($10.95), Thai steak & noodle salad ($14.95) and grilled salmon salad ($14.95).

The appetizer menu includes 2 original Emma Whiteside dishes: turtle soup ($6.00) and crabmeat remick – lump crabmeat with bacon and topped with Emma’s remick sauce ($11.95). Other appetizers include eggplant with crabmeat ($8.95), and fried calamari ($7.95).

The dinner menu offers a variety of seafood, steaks and local dishes. Crispy fried mirliton with shrimp, andouille, jumbo lump crab meat, fried oysters and bordelaise sauce ($22.95), porter house pork chop with jalapeno pepper glaze ($27.95), pan-seared baby white veal topped with jumbo lump crab meat ($32.95), grilled Ahi tuna ($19.95), an 8 oz. filet ($29.95), and a 12 oz. filet ($37.95). Only sterling silver steaks are served which are the upper 3% of U.S. prime.

Try to leave room for dessert, if you can. Emma Whiteside’s original bread pudding is served daily!

A kids’ menu offering pasta, chicken tenders, catfish bits, fried shrimp, and mini hamburgers is available. ($6.95 - $$9.95).

Wait, there’s more. Tuesday night is all-you-can-eat crab (snow crab and dungeoness) served with corn and potatoes from the boil pot for only $24.95. Wednesday night is $10.95 lobster night. Thursday night is steak night – an 8 oz. top sirloin with potato for only $15.95. And from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. it’s Happy Hour in the bar, Tuesday through Friday.

A catering menu is available upon request. The big dining room can accommodate up to 80 people for a sit-down dinner and up to 120 for reception-style.

The Red Maple’s summer hours are: Tuesday – Friday, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. with continuous food service; Saturday, 5 p.m.–10 p.m. The bar is open “till” Tuesday through Saturday. The address is 1036 Lafayette Street, Gretna, LA; the phone number is 367-0935. You can follow The Red Maple specials on Facebook.

Next time you go, make sure you take time to look at the display of pictures on the wall in the downstairs bar. It’s a pictorial history of 5 generations of the Trauth family starting with Emma Trauth Whiteside and documents almost 100 years of Gretna history. The food, service, ambience and history make for a special dining experience at The Red Maple.

Reprinted withe permission of The West Bank Beacon.

Red Maple Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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