A Brief History
Housed in the historic Gentilich building on the corner of Rampart and Dumaine,
Marti’s is a revival of a New Orleans Classic. The original Marti’s was the hub of French Quarter social life and the New Orleans arts community in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This included Tennesee Williams who only lived only three doors down. Even before Martin Shambra opened in 1971, this building had been entrenched in New Orleans culture for years. Mr. Gentilich, a Czech immigrant, opened the building as a grocery store right around the turn of the century. Soon it became a 24 hour grocery store and sandwich shop where it stayed open like that for the next 50 years. Locals came in to recover and unwind from the chaos tucked deeper in the quarter. After the grocery there was a few failed business attempts until Martin Shambra decided to open a restaurant.
Marti keenly revamped the space and purchased two murals of City Park from the Desoto Hotel; both are considered treasures. These murals have remained in the building since then and survived two fires. They have become a rememberence of New Orleans life at the turn of the century and even gave the name “Peristyle” to the next iconic restaurant housed in the Gentilich building.
The restaurant quickly became a hotspot for socialites, artists and writers who became good friends with Marti during his tenure at 1041 Dumaine. For seventeen years Marti’s was an
institution. It embraced the spirit of what New Orleans dining is all about. Sadly the restaurant closed in 1988 after the passing of Martin Shambra.
In 1992 Chef John Neal opened Peristyle and three years later his Sous Chef Anne Kearney
was given the opportunity to purchase the business. Over the next few years she gained national
recognition and finally was honored in 2002 with a James Beard Award for Best Chef of the
Southeast. Kearney’s food was an amazing interpretation of Provençal bistro fare. She quickly was recognized as “The Best Restaurant” in New Orleans. In 2005 Anne Kearney and Tom Sands sold Peristyle to Chef Tom Wolfe and moved back to Dayton, Ohio where they now own the
successful restaurant Rue Dumaine.
In October of 2013, Marti’s was reopened once again bringing back the classic New Orleans experience. Although many will tell you the interior has changed, the spirit and atmosphere of this building continues to live on as it did years ago.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the experience.