The Times-Picayune of New Orleans—one of the country’s finest and least-celebrated daily papers—has a terrific story about the state of NOLA’s restaurants.

Weaving together the account of a once-booming post-Katrina restaurant called Alberta and general trends in the New Orleans food business, the story paints a relatively bleak picture. The post-Katrina rush has died down, and once-optimistic new spots are closing down or girding for a fall season that may feature a new rush of customers—or a creeping collapse.

As old giants stagger to their feet, the swift newcomers are struggling to stay solvent, and many are losing the fight.

‘It was only after the more traditional New Orleans restaurants that have been in existence for some time started to open that our business started to slow down,’ [new restaurant owner Alberta] Pate said. ‘I’m not saying that the older ones aren’t struggling. It’s just that it’s the new ones that are closing, and I wonder if there’s a thread.’

While it’s tough to keep a new place open even in non–hurricane devastated cities, you’ve gotta feel bad for the folks who gave Crescent City another shot and lost their shirts.

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