I enjoyed the recent article by Ian McNulty regarding the reopening of the Irish Channel icon, Parasol’s. However, I have been trying for the past 20 years to set the record straight about the true origin of the founding and naming of Parasol’s.
Recognition has never been given to the lady who gave birth not only to the finest roast beef in New Orleans but was also the founder of Parasol’s. My mother, Myrtle Herzog Passauer, along with her husband, Louis Jr. purchased the property on the corner of Constance and Third streets in 1952. Upon entering the property for the first time, Myrtle saw an umbrella in the corner of the room. It was her idea to name the place “Parasol’s” after her deceased father-in-law Louis Passauer Sr. who sported the nickname Parasol because he always carried an umbrella with him at all times. Also, this was much easier to pronounce than Passauer.
While her husband spent the day tending bar, Myrtle decided to make sandwiches in a small part of the building between the kitchen and the living quarters. She used her own original recipe for cooking the roast beef. The beef was not pulled but sliced on a machine and then placed back in the pot with the “debris.” The secret to the best roast beef in town was twofold. The gravy was made separately and not just from the beef juices and the bread, Leidenheimers’, was heated, not browned, in a small box oven that sat atop two burners on the regular oven. The hot roast beefs were served to the customers in the bar or wrapped and delivered by me on my trusty Harley Davidson to the residents in the Irish Channel. To this day, I run into many former customers we served.
Our family lived in the room behind the kitchen. Eventually, my mother’s sister-in-law, Sevinia, helped her in the kitchen, and these two women were solely responsible for Parasol’s success. They had no help from the men.
Myrtle died in 2012 at the age of 91 and had never received the credit due to her business savvy, commitment to hard work and a winning personality. She always had a smile on her face and was friendly and helpful to all she met.
I have one of the original menus with a price of $2.00 for a large roast beef and $1.25 for a small. Her handwritten roast beef recipe is also among my treasures.
It would be nice to see her receive the credit for opening this historical treasure in the Irish Channel.
Robert E. Bongard