But Antoine’s son Jules, who inherited the business in 1898, was the one to credit with turning the business into a full-fledged French-Creole restaurant. Jules had a large dowry from his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, so he expanded upon the original spot by buying up the surrounding real estate. With the revolution of railroads, more and more visitors were coming to New Orleans. In came larger, more modern hotels and therefore less use for the humble pensions.
Jules, marking the trend, decided to expand the kitchen and dining rooms and shut down the pension part of Antoine’s. “He was essentially inventing an industry that didn’t exist, by basing the entire economic model of the business on selling food and not pillows,” Blount says. It helped that Jules was an equally savvy chef. Some of the classic dishes to come out of his kitchen were Oysters Rockefeller, named so because of their richness; eggs Sardou, poached eggs with artichokes, ham, anchovies, truffles and hollandaise; and café Brulot, a flamed coffee concoction with orange liqueur, cinnamon, sugar, clove and lemon peel.