Pete Fountain... 02/16/99

Jazz legend Pete Fountain hit the streets to lead his Half Fast Walking Club on its Mardi Gras march in 1999.

Hey Blake,

Why is Pete Fountain’s name in the street tile outside the building at Bourbon and St. Ann streets? I assume he had a club or restaurant there?


Dear reader,

Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain, who was known to music fans around the world, often joked that he attended the “Conservatory of Bourbon Street,” eschewing his studies at Warren Easton High School in favor of the musical education he received as a teenager playing in French Quarter clubs. In November 1960, he opened one himself. He purchased the club at Bourbon and St. Ann streets, which previously had been called La Lune.

“We tried to call it the French Quarter Inn, but everyone ended up just calling it Pete’s Place,” Fountain told The Times-Picayune in 1987. “I think my name is still out on the sidewalk.” Fountain recorded two live albums in the club, “Pete Fountain: French Quarter Inn” and “Pete Fountain on Tour.”

In 1968, Fountain relocated to a larger space at 231 Bourbon St. He continued performing there until 1977, when he moved to a club in the newly opened New Orleans Hilton Hotel, now the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Although Fountain died in 2016, he remains an icon on Bourbon Street. His life-sized statue is one of nine included in New Orleans Musical Legends Park at 311 Bourbon Street.

Since your question asked whether Fountain had a club or restaurant, we should add that he did in fact once own an eatery. Peter’s Wieners and Famous Frozen Custard opened in the 1980s on Highway 90 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. As Times-Picayune columnist Betty Guillaud pointed out in 1988, the hot dog stand was “just a scoop of custard away” from the home Fountain and his wife Beverly shared on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The restaurant, formerly a Frostop, was co-owned and run by Fountain’s son Kevin.