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The Roosevelt Hotel Celebrates One Year Anniversary Following Grand Re-Opening

Posted on: July 26th, 2010 by admin No Comments

The Roosevelt Hotel, reborn as a Waldorf Astoria Collection® Hotel, celebrates the one-year anniversary of the property reopening following the completion of a $170 million restoration in July 2009.

The historic downtown New Orleans property, shuttered since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, originally opened in 1893 as the Grunewald. In 1923, it was rebranded as The Roosevelt in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt and retained its distinctive moniker until the hotel changed hands in 1965 and was renamed The Fairmont.

During its first year of operation, The Roosevelt New Orleans served as the backdrop for a number of prominent meetings and conventions, performances and city-wide celebrations.

The Roosevelt’s celebrated grand opening hosted thousands of locals and visitors, and included special performances by some of New Orleans’ most beloved performers, including Irma Thomas, the Neville Brothers and Allen Toussaint. The world famous Blue Room returned as a destination for entertainment by welcoming clarinetist Pete Fountain to christen the venue, followed by a special performance of “The Kingfish” with actor Spud McConnell.

“This hotel truly represents the flavor and passion of New Orleans with the international appeal and significance of the Waldorf Astoria brand,” said General Manager Tod Chambers. “We appreciate the support this community has given since we reopened 12 months ago. We look forward to continuing to provide our partners, vendors, owners and guests with incredible memories at this legendary hotel for years to come.”

Boasting more than 60,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, The Roosevelt played host to nearly 300 groups during the past year. Among the first was the New Cardiovascular Horizons conference.

Most recently, The Roosevelt welcomed the world-champion New Orleans Saints for their Super Bowl ring ceremony. That followed a series of celebrations at the distinguished property which included the return of the holiday lobby and Teddy Bear Tea, as well as grand opening celebrations for venues, such as the Guerlain Spa and Rooftop Bar at The Roosevelt. Among the most popular events was a celebration of the 60th anniversary of “Stormin’ the Sazerac,” which marked the first time women were allowed in the Sazerac Bar.

For more information on The Roosevelt New Orleans, visit Memories of The Roosevelt can be logged at the hotel’s blog site:

Vote the Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt as your favorite!

Posted on: June 21st, 2010 by admin No Comments

The Gambit is hosting its Top 10 Bars Readers’ Choice Awards. Winners will be announced in the July 6 issue. Please click on the link below and vote for your favorite bar in New Orleans, the Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt!

Artists in Residence Event, June 23

Posted on: June 17th, 2010 by admin No Comments

Join The Roosevelt Hotel for the Artists in Residence Event, Wednesday, June 23 from 3 pm to 7 pm. The Event will take place in the grand lobby of the hotel.

Featured artists this month include:

Ronnie Cardwell is an avid photographer and thrives upon the ability to “be in the right place at the right time” in order to freeze one small part of time in his camera frame. His photographs reveal both the wonders of Mother Nature and the culture and excitement of the city. Ronnie has the profound talent to make this diversity tangible for all who view his photographs. His utilization of lighting and color bring life to his work and warmth to the viewer’s heart.

Mignon Faget designs original jewelry that is inspired by the natural and man-made landmarks of New Orleans and southern Louisiana. A fifth generation New Orleanian, Faget has flourished in the culture and traditions of her birthplace and her collections reflect this. “Every New Orleans Lady”, so it’s said, owns at least one piece of Mignon Faget jewelry, adornment as central to a lady’s wardrobe in this city as a piece from Tiffany & Co. in New York.”

James Jensen burst onto the professional art scene at the age of 12 with his first commission from a local sophisticate. Experienced with all forms of art, James now glamorizes beautiful woman with his line of fabulous Glamour Trash Jewelry. Using old Disco Records and his own “secret” finishes, he has concocted the first truly new jewels in decades.

Martin Welch is an Impressionist using energetic brushstrokes and bright colors. He grew up in the south and currently lives and works in New Orleans. Martin says he’s just a southern boy at heart and paints the way he thinks, feels and remembers. His paintings are used in the new HBO series “Treme”.

For more information, call (504) 648-1200.

Send Us Your Photos!

Posted on: September 21st, 2009 by admin 1 Comment

Arthur Wehl, from San Francisco, submitted the following photos.


“The photo of the children is one of me, Arthur Wehl and my cousin, Catherine Mistretta, at the Blue Room in the early 60s. Children would get to sit in special seats in front so that they could see the performers. I became a fan of the Blue Room early on and remember seeing Anthony Newley, Ella Fitzgerald and Lainie Kazan there to name a few.


The photo of the adults is of my mother and father – My mother, in white, with the cigarette, is Josie Mistretta Pardys. My father is behind her, Anthony Wehl. Across from them are my Aunt and Uncle, Evelyn Wehl Vulevich and George Vulevich. The photo appears to be from the late 40s or early 50s. All but my mother have passed away. My mother loved the Blue Room and would have me join her when there were shows that she thought I might enjoy as a child.

What a wonderful magic place! I’m so glad that the hotel is back and that it’s part of the Waldorf group. It deserves to be part of the best….”

Have photos of yourself at The Roosevelt New Orleans? Send them to us!

The Roosevelt New Orleans To Celebrate Its Grand Opening in High Style Oct. 23 – 25

Posted on: September 14th, 2009 by admin 3 Comments

Event Also Marks Introduction of John Besh’s Domenica Restaurant and Internationally Acclaimed Guerlain Spa


The Roosevelt New Orleans will roll out the red carpet for a historic grand-opening gala weekend Oct. 23-25 featuring world-famous New Orleans entertainers and the introduction of John Besh’s Domenica Restaurant and the acclaimed Guerlain Spa, benefiting area non-profits.

The newest member of the Waldorf Astoria brand, the hotel follows up on its July ribbon-cutting with a weekend of festivities expected to attract up to 1,000 guests to hear New Orleans’ first family of funk, the Neville Brothers; Grammy Award-winning singer Irma Thomas; musician, composer and producer Allen Toussaint; and clarinetist Tim Laughlin.

The events will coincide with the opening of Domenica as well as the introduction of the 12,500-square-foot Guerlain Spa, which will feature 10 private treatment rooms, a fitness center, a couple’s therapy suite and more.

“Our grand-opening marks the return of a New Orleans icon that is revered by locals and visitors from around the world,” said general manager Tod Chambers. “Downtown New Orleans has what we call a ‘sense of place’ because of its history and vibrancy. Now, with the return of The Roosevelt, we’re playing a key role in our city’s future.”

The Oct. 23 and 24 events are combined into one package that includes a two-night stay at the luxurious hotel, two tickets to the events, a welcome amenity upon arrival, a Roosevelt New Orleans commemorative gift and valet parking. Entertainment includes:

* Oct. 23: The Neville Brothers in the Roosevelt Ballroom starting at 8 p.m. Included are two tickets to the performance, hors d’oeuvres and an open-bar reception.
* Oct. 24: Grammy Award-winning singer Irma Thomas and musician, composer, and producer Allen Toussaint in the Roosevelt Ballroom starting at 8 p.m. Included are two tickets to the performance, a four-course dinner, wine and a champagne toast. Black tie is required for this event.

Prices for these packaged events are $1,500 per couple for guests choosing a deluxe room and $1,750 per couple for those preferring a luxury suite.

Tickets to the Oct. 25 champagne jazz brunch in the Blue Room, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., may be purchased at an additional cost of $75 each.

Reservations are available by calling in-house reservations at (504) 648-5380.

Send Us Your Photos!

Posted on: September 10th, 2009 by admin No Comments

Linda B. Dumaine submitted the following article and photographs about her father, who worked at The Roosevelt New Orleans nearly his whole life.

“In answer to your request as seen on the internet for interesting stories about the wonderful Roosevelt Hotel as it is now renamed, I would like to submit the following very interesting information. It details the career and employment of my father, Anthony (Tony) Biscotto, who worked for the Hotel Gruenwald and also the Fairmont Roosevelt (as it was later renamed) from 1919 to 1972 – almost his entire life. Many of these interesting stories were relayed to me by my father during his career at your hotel.”

Movie Stars and Other Influential People in the Life of Tony Biscotto

Although his full name was Anthony Joseph Biscotto, he became known throughout his hotel career as Tony.

Tony, a native of New Orleans, began his career as a bellboy at a Vieux Carre hotel. After one and a half years, he saved enough money for tuition at Soule College where he graduated and went to work for the Railway and Light Company as a bookkeeper. For two years during the First World War, he kept records of all the coal that came in. Realizing that he preferred the hotel business, after a short time, Tony quit, and in 1919 Tony began his employment of hopping bells at the age of 19 when he began working for what was Hotel Grunewald. Tony said that Mr. Grunewald sold the Hotel Grunewald (because of health reasons) to Joseph and Lucca Vaccaro. The new owners demolished the old five story building on Baronne Street which joined the Grunewald and constructed the annex which stands today. The larger hotel was named the Roosevelt in the 1920’s after Felix Vaccaro’s friend, Teddy Roosevelt. In later years it became known as the Fairmont Roosevelt.

Soon after the larger hotel was doing business, a fire began in a salesman’s room due to a burning cigarette, which caused the bed to catch fire. Bellboy Tony, being nearby smelled the smoke, forced his way into the room and put out the flames, preventing the hotel from further damage. He also saved the salesman hundreds of dollars in dresses, but burned his hand in the process and was out of work for a week.

Tony once told a story that in the Hotel Grunewald days, the whole staff had to follow rules set up in a “Manual of Conduct.” Each day an inspection was held, and the bellhops had to carry a tray, pad and pencil, finger nails needed to be cut and clean and shoes needed to shine at all times. Tony said concerning his hat-checking days, he met and checked the hats of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, commander of Allied Forces in World War I and General Armando Diaz, the Italian in charge of general staff in World War I. Tony’s other job duties including bringing laundry to Sanitary Troy on Conti Street. Then he delivered the clean clothes to each of the guests of the hotel. Then in the late 1930’s, Tony recalled that the hotel constructed its own housing of laundry in the basement. So Tony no longer had laundry duties. Tony assisted such people as the Lombardo brothers, the Andrew Sisters, Martha Raye and Sophie Tucker, who each year came to N.O. on her birthday. Also Jimmy Durante asked him to bring his laundry backstage at the Blue Room before his act.

Tony also took care of all the uniforms for the Cleveland Indians when they came for spring training to New Orleans. He waited on Wallace Beery, but claimed that his favorite guest of all was William S. Hart.

An interesting story about Tony: At the time of prohibition a movie star named Jack Mulhall wanted some whiskey. He said to Tony, “Do you know who I am?” Tony seriously replied, “Yeah, but I ain’t gonna get you no whiskey.” Tony was as honest as the day is long. In fact, he was so trustworthy that Tony was chosen to go to an attorney’s home by cab to get a million dollars in bonds for Theodore Grunewald who was purchasing the Bienville Hotel.

Tony would take the Dolly Sisters (all six of them) to the horse race track. When he picked up two winners for them, they came to the conclusion that he knew all there was to know about the races. Tony played the horses for many years and then stopped. Why? Well, it was because he wanted to get married.

Tony recalled another incident about a diamond salesman named Agate for whom he assisted many times, and Agate offered to sell Tony an engagement ring for his bride-to-be. Agate went out for dinner one evening and left the diamonds in his room. Two thieves had followed Agate from Chicago and stole all the valuables out of his hotel room. These robbers were later caught in New York. When the trial came up in New Orleans, Tony went to court as a witness. Tony said, “The defense lawyer tried to cross me.” He said, “How do you know these men are the ones you roomed with when you room dozens of people everyday?” Tony relayed, “Because they came in with heavy bags, and they gave me a DIME tip. I don’t forget THOSE kind of faces.” The robbers were convicted, and Tony bought his diamond ring.

Tony remembered Eleanor Roosevelt in March, 1932, when she came to New Orleans. He and another bellboy served her. It was reported that she had 29 pieces of luggage. Tony, who carried her bags, knew there were only 7 pieces of luggage. Mrs. Roosevelt gave Tony a tip, and he kept that tip for the rest of his life. Tony’s daughter, Linda, still has that tip today. Other tippers that Tony remembered were Huey Long and Martha Raye. Tony would take Ms. Raye’s dogs for walks. Everyone in the hotel business and all the guests respected and liked Tony.

Another great relationship that Tony had which he always spoke of with great loyalty and pride was his long relationship with Mr. And Mrs. Manuel Dinkelspiel, who permanently lived in a beautiful suite in the hotel for a great many years. This couple did not have any children and Tony spent a great deal of time with them as they aged, going to baseball and football games in City Park, running errands and the like. Tony’s assisting of the Dinkelspiel’s was approved by The Roosevelt. The Dinkelspiel’s trusted Tony who was like their son, you might say. Mr. Dinkelspiel passed away in 1957 and his wife in 1969.

During Tony’s days of service at The Roosevelt Hotel, he met many fine guests, but being so good natured he would laugh at the “stiffs,” which was the word bellboys called guests who do not tip.

Tony worked for The Roosevelt Hotel for 53 years in jobs such as: bellboy, bell captain, a valet, a runner for valet, a room and a key clerk and delivering laundry for the hotel guests. Then seven years before he retired, due to doctor’s orders, Tony stopped carrying bags of luggage and was one of the leading reservations employees in the Fairmont Roosevelt’s front office until he retired in 1972 at the age of 72. Tony Biscotto was so loved, respected and admired by all his family, plus everyone at the Fairmont Roosevelt. Tony always told his daughter, Linda, that he wanted to live to be 100 years old. Well, he almost made it as on December 20, 1989 Tony Biscotto passed away at the age of 89.


Have photos of yourself at The Roosevelt New Orleans? Send them to us!

Send Us Your Photos!

Posted on: August 31st, 2009 by admin 1 Comment


The above photo was submitted by Gwen S. Anderson – here’s what she had to say about it:

“I’ve attached a photo and the cover from 1964 when we went to see The Lettermen perform. My mom, Lois Schank is in the middle and as you can see she is totally excited. She was chosen to sing with them that night. My Dad wrote on the back of the photo Steppin Out so that’s why it has that name. Pictured from left to right is my Aunt Pat and I am on the far right, Gwen Schank Anderson.”

Have photos of yourself at The Roosevelt New Orleans? Send them to us!


Send Us Your Photos!

Posted on: August 3rd, 2009 by admin 3 Comments

From left to right: Leah and Bobby DuBos, Jerry and Edgar Aucion, Ray and Shirley Laque, Chris and Irma Klein

The above photo was submitted by Raymond Laque – here’s what he had to say about it:

“Here’s a picture of my Mom and Dad with a group of friends in the 1960’s for a night out at the Blue Room. She and my Dad and their friends would get together once a month for dinner at each others house. Each couple would host a dinner twice a year, they would go to the Blue Room for Dinner and the show and to dance twice a year.”

Have photos of yourself at The Roosevelt New Orleans? Send them to us!

The Roosevelt New Orleans Celebrates Official Opening with Ribbon-Cutting

Posted on: July 31st, 2009 by admin 2 Comments

Milestone Includes Ceremony in Typical New Orleans Style, Along with Dignitaries Present and “Past”


At The Roosevelt’s ribbon-cutting ceremony July 30 are (left to right) former Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long (played by a local actor); principal owner Sam Friedman of Dimension Development; Alan Rose with Dimension Development; Tod Chambers, general manager of the hotel; Paul Brown, president of Global Brands and Shared Services for Hilton Hotels Corporation); Jackie Clarkson, New Orleans City Council vice president); and Stacy Head, member of the New Orleans City Council.


Also at the ceremony were former President Teddy Roosevelt, portrayed by a local actor; Tod Chambers, hotel general manager; Paul Brown, president of Global Brands and Shared Services for Hilton Hotels Corporation; Tim Benolken, senior vice president, also of Hilton Hotels Corporation; Andy Slater, area vice president of Hilton Hotels Corporation); and former Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long, portrayed by a local actor.

To mark its official return as New Orleans’ grand-hotel and a top American luxury property, Hilton Hotels Corporation executives along with New Orleans dignitaries including two “legends” last seen at the hotel almost three-fourths of a century ago cut the ribbon today to The Roosevelt New Orleans, a downtown landmark.

“Today represents the passion and determination of the people of New Orleans, its city leaders and our ownership to preserving the past while celebrating the future of this great city and iconic hotel,” said Tod Chambers, general manager of the 116-year-old hotel. “Ecstatic, proud and a tremendous sense of accomplishment are words that come to mind.”

Following a $145-million historic restoration that returns the Roosevelt name for the first time since 1965, the hotel is the newest member of the Waldorf Astoria Brand. “The Roosevelt holds a special place in the hearts of New Orleanians and visitors from around the world. Today is definitely a day for celebration.”

Joining Chambers to cut the ribbon was Paul Brown, president of Global Brands and Shared Services for Hilton Hotels Corporation, of which the Waldorf Astoria Brand is the luxury arm.

To be part of the Waldorf Astoria Brand, a hotel must be an iconic local landmark that radiates timeless luxury, impeccable service and world-class style,” Brown said. “The Roosevelt does just that. From its classic elegance and storied venues, such as the Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar, to its incomparably rich history, The Roosevelt is archetypical example of the type of property that characterizes the Waldorf Astoria brand.

“Today’s ceremony is another important milestone in Hilton’s continuing commitment to New Orleans and to the vibrant spirit of this community.”

Other presenters were New Orleans City Council president Jacqueline Brechtel Clarkson and principal owner Sam Friedman of Dimension Development.

Taking to the podium following a downtown motorcade in a 1941 yellow convertible Cadillac coupe once owned by the Vanderbilt family were “Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long” and “U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.” Each was portrayed by a local actor to salute the pair’s connections to the legendary hotel.

Long, a populist governor in the late 1920s and U.S. Senator in the early 1930s until his death in 1935, kept a suite at he hotel for much of his public life and was responsible for tales regarding the hotel that linger today. The name of the hotel, which opened in 1893 as the Grunewald, was changed to The Roosevelt in 1925 in honor of the former President, who also was a frequent guest and whose likeness, complete with spectacles and moustache, still marks one of the hotel’s historic entrances. The hotel bore that moniker until it was renamed the Fairmont in the mid-1960s.

Providing music for the rebirth of the hotel and of the city itself were the Rebirth Brass Band and pianist Ronnie Kole.

The grand hotel boasts 504 rooms, of which 135 are luxury suites, some named for celebrities who once visited the hotel. Other amenities include a comprehensive business center, private dining and suite butler service, an outdoor pool and courtyard, and a specialty gift shop.

The Blue Room also has been restored to its previous splendor and already is serving as a place for families and friends to enjoy good music and food and celebrate life’s special occasions. On Sunday mornings starting in October, the Blue Room will feature a grand brunch complete with delights such as mascarpone-stuffed French toast with house-made satsuma marmalade, boiled Gulf shrimp, a carving table featuring the finest roasted meats and much more.

Guests have the opportunity to enjoy a beverage in the Sazerac Bar and Restaurant, a Roosevelt landmark for decades. The Sazerac Bar serves its signature Sazerac beverage and Ramos Gin Fizz – both invented in New Orleans and made popular worldwide by The Roosevelt and by Long – among other delights. In addition to beverages that stimulate the palate, Sazerac patrons again enjoy the Art Deco-style murals by artist Paul Ninas.

The Roosevelt New Orleans also features nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including three spectacular ballrooms and 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms that span two floors of the hotel.

To take advantage of any of the hotel’s offers, guests and visitors can call 1-800-WALDORF or visit For more information about booking any of the rooms, contact Mark Wilson at (504) 648-1200 or at

Submit your Photos and Stories.

New Orleans Hotel Reopens Four Years After Katrina

Posted on: July 29th, 2009 by admin No Comments

New Orleans (AP) – The massive lobby, with its ornate trim, glittering Italian crystal chandeliers and mosaic floors, looks much as it did when Louisiana’s Kingfish, Gov. Huey P. Long last strolled through. Some say a box full of kickbacks and shakedown money was tucked under his arm as he made his way to his regular suite in the 1930s.

The Roosevelt Hotel has finally reopened in downtown New Orleans four years after Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to a $145 million renovation, it’s making an opulent return to its heyday, when the likes of Long, a parade of Hollywood stars and the country’s movers and shakers held court there.

The hotel was built in 1893, but the grandest period was from the 1920s and ’30s, said general manager Tod Chambers. We wanted to restore it to that era.

The Roosevelt’s renaissance is also a milestone in the city’s recovery from the August 2005 storm. Now only one major hotel, the Hyatt, remains shuttered, along with an adjacent shopping center attached to the Louisiana Superdome. The hurricane flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, crippling its vital tourist industry, but the French Quarter suffered minimal damage, and many hotels, restaurants and attractions, like the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium, reopened within months. Only a few major tourist sites remain closed, including the heavily damaged Six Flags amusement park.

But Katrina left 10 feet of water in the Roosevelt’s basement, destroying mechanical equipment, while wind-driven rain inundated most guest floors. As other hotels returned, the Fairmont, as it was then known, remained boarded up. Then in August 2007, the Roosevelt was bought by Louisiana based Dimension Development for $19 million. Dimension then brought in Hilton to renovate it and operate it as part of the company’s upscale Waldorf-Astoria portfolio.

Hilton decided to reopen the property as a 504-room, 135-suite luxury hotel under the Roosevelt name. The hotel was originally called the Grunwald, but in 1923 it became the Roosevelt, in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. It was during the hotel’s grandest era that Long, the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a U.S. senator from 1932 to 1935, was a regular guest.

Historians say every state employee who received a job from Long was expected to contribute to his campaign fund, which was kept in a locked box. Without a base of wealthy political contributors, Long reasoned this was an appropriate source of funds for his political activities.

After Long’s assassination in September 1935, the box was believed to have been stolen by one of his associates. Although legend has it that the box accompanied him on trips to the Roosevelt, Chambers said it did not show up during the renovation. A replica of the box is planned for the lobby, however.

The reopening of the Roosevelt gives New Orleans about 34,000 hotel rooms, still shy of the 39,500 in use before Katrina struck, but plenty to serve major conventions and sporting events, said Mary Beth Romig, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Another important point is the ballroom space they bring, Romig said. That’s important for conventions that want everything in one location _ their delegates, meetings, displays and awards events.

The hotel has 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the 20,000-square-foot Roosevelt Ballroom, 12,000-square-foot Crescent City Ballroom and the 7,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Ballroom.

As important, Romig said, is the return of the iconic Blue Room _ Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Rosemary Clooney, Marlene Dietrich and Sonny and Cher all performed there.

The Blue Room, which reopens in late July with a concert by jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain, and the Sazerac Bar, have been Roosevelt landmarks for decades.

We went there after my high school prom, Romig said. There have been so many weddings there, so many special events. The hotel holds a very special place in local hearts.

A huge Christmas display, which fills the block-long lobby, is also going to return, complete with masses of trees, lights and choirs.

One of the delights of the restoration, Chambers said, was finding architectural details hidden by past renovations, including ornate plaster work under dropped ceilings and mosaic tile set in intricate patterns under heavy duty industrial blue carpeting.

And in the Sazerac Bar, the Art Deco murals by artist Paul Ninas are again on display.

Ninas, a pioneer modernist, moved to New Orleans in 1932 and painted the murals shortly thereafter.

One of the great delights of New Orleans is to get a Sazerac cocktail, which was invented in New Orleans, and gaze at those paintings, said William Fagaly, curator of African art at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Everybody in New Orleans is looking forward to doing that again.