Old sports legends don’t die, and in New Orleans they don’t even fade away. These days, in fact, more of them have been opening restaurants.
Archie Manning teamed with Harrah’s Casino for his Manning’s Eat Drink Cheer, for instance, and there’s the newer Deuce McAllister’s Ole Saint Kitchen & Tap in the French Quarter. Even Drew Brees, an active duty Saints legend if ever there was one, has his Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches franchises, another of which is taking shape in Mid-City, at 401 N. Carrollton Ave.
The latest example is Bobby Hebert’s Cajun Cannon (4101 Veterans Blvd., 504-324-6841; bobbyheberts.com), from the former Saints quarterback turned sports radio personality.
Some may recognize the Metairie address as the longtime home of Carmine’s Italian restaurant, though the sprawling space has been radically rebuilt for Bobby Hebert’s, a restaurant the size of a small strip mall.
The menu reads like sports bar pub grub crossed with Louisiana family restaurant fare. Look for char-grilled oysters, cheese fries smothered with a crawfish Monica-esque cream sauce, lighter crabmeat and avocado salads and entrees meant to evoke Hebert’s roots in Lafourche Parish bayou country, like smoked duck with etouffee or blackened redfish.
Hebert opened his restaurant with Moe Bader, who runs Oceana Grill. That French Quarter restaurant frequently hosted Hebert’s radio show, which led to this new business collaboration. But Hebert’s signature on the place goes beyond his name emblazoned above the door.
The walls are draped with huge TVs, at least 30 of them, and as you’d expect the space between them is filled with sports memorabilia. What’s different here, though, is the special resonance these signed jerseys and helmets and vintage team posters and calendars may carry for Saints fans, knowing many come from Hebert’s own collection and experiences. If Saints fandom can resemble religious devotion, these totems are true relics.
Going to an athlete’s restaurant doesn’t mean you’ll share a meal with the namesake, though Hebert does have some scheduled appearances at his new eatery. He and WWL radio co-host Deke Bellavia will broadcast their “Countdown to Kickoff” show from the restaurant for two hours preceding Saints road games, beginning with Saturday’s preseason game against the Colts.
Bobby Hebert’s is open 11a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. on weekdays.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.