Since 1957, Willie Mae's Scotch House has been making a name for themselves by serving up legendary fried chicken in the Treme neighborhood. Over 60 years later, Willie Mae's is popular as ever, amassing a loyal fan base and winning prizes like the "America's Classic Restuarant for the Southern Region". For years, throngs of Treme locals, along with curious tourists, lined up to experience a piece of this backstreet chicken joint. This week, a second Willie Mae's location opened up in the central business district's Pythian Market food hall.
The Pythian location will feature a condensed version of the original Willie Mae's menu, with a focus on fan favorites like fried fish, baked chicken, red beans, and, of course, fried chicken!
In addition to expanding access to a wider range of customers, the opening of a new location will ideally allow the original location to get back to its roots.
"I really wanted to be more accessible to our longtime guests who work downtown, and to some visitors who come through and want to try us out," said Kerry Seaton-Stewart, owner and descendant of Willie Mae Seaton. "I'm hoping this will take some of the pressure off the Scotch House so we can do what we do."
"There are people who want us to be fast-casual, who come to the Scotch House and want to have quick meals and meals-to-go," said Seaton-Stewart. "But our goal there, the foundation of what Willie Mae's does, is home-style comfort. It's table service and it's a warmer experience. This way, we can offer people both."
Willie Mae Seaton opened the original Treme location as a scotch bar, which later became a restaurant that served smothered veal and pork chops. The restaurant came to become one of the longest-running African American-owned businesses in the city due to the quality of the food, dedication to its customers and the ability to bring people together.
In 2015, Kern Reese, Orleans Parish Civil District Judge (and Willie Mae's fan) described Willie Mae's Scotch House as, "a neutral ground kind of place. "People from all walks of life would be in there. You came to eat, to talk, to find fellowship; you could talk across the aisle there about anything. It felt like you had come by someone's house and they asked you to stay for dinner."
The new Willie Mae's location is located at the Pythian Market at 234 Loyola Avenue, and the hours are 11 am-8 pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 pm on Sundays. More information, including the menu, store hours and contact information can be found at williemaesnola.com.