From 1966 until now...
Originally established in 1966 by their parents, Anthony and Josie Sciortino, the owners of the Garden District Pub, Dianne and Veronica Sciortino, have re-established this Lower Garden District location with all the charm of days gone by. The exposed brick walls reflect its many faces throughout the years. As far back as the 1950s, Dianne can remember shopping at the then Square Deal Grocery, owned and operated by the Tassistro family. She remembers large fruit and vegetable stands gracing the sidewalk in front and shelving to the 12-foot ceilings.
In 1962, the Sciortinos purchased the building and converted it into a barbecue restaurant -Anthony's Barbeque House- serving rotisserie chicken and ribs and po-boys of all kinds, homemade potato and Italian salads - all made with Ms. Anthony's (as she was affectionately called) home recipes. After (Hurricane) Betsy passed, Anthony's was one of just a few buildings with electricity. Realizing that many of his customers and friends were without utilities, he made his way to his suppliers, stocking up with as much as his car would hold. As the rotisserie turned, the customers came, thanking Mr. Anthony for opening, since most of them had no way to cook. Their ability to pay meant nothing; serving their needs meant everything!
Seeing that a "family friendly" tavern would be good for the neighborhood, in 1966, Mr. Anthony again converted the location, this time to Anthony's 1916 Cocktail Lounge, which opened in October. After his death that December, Ms. Anthony operated the lounge with the help many loyal friends and patrons, including officers from the 6th District who, as they said, "adopted" Ms. Anthony.
Affectionately called the "church bar" (perhaps because of an occasional visit from a neighborhood priest), Anthony's hosted many birthday, anniversary, holiday and after-wedding parties; home movies were taken and shown regularly. Patrons came from diverse areas - Uptown, Kenner, Metairie, the Westbank, the Quarter and CBD. It was truly a place "where friends met." Ms. Anthony sold the business in December 1970 and since then, the location had only three tenants, the last and longest being Sharon Freeman.
Both owners are graduates of St. Alphonsus and Redemptorist High, following their long family history in the area. Mr. Anthony's parents, Dominick and Theresa, owned and operated a poultry and produce grocery at 1912 Magazine. Ms. Anthony's parents, John and Gaetana Grisaffi owned and operated a grocery at 2050 Magazine, from which they retired to Lakeview in the mid '20s. Missing their beloved Magazine Street, the Grisaffis returned in the '30s to 1900 Magazine Street where, again, they operated a neighborhood grocery. It was at this address, after his return from World War II, where Mr. and Mrs. Anthony met.
Dianne and Veronica welcome your visit to their historic (Lower) Garden District Pub and hope that it will become a spot where you and your friends meet.