Two kinds of customers pass through the doors of the new Phil’s Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant—those who stumble upon the spot for the first time, and those who remember the quirky magic of its Government Street forerunner.
First established in the late ’50s in the building now occupied by Tiger Deaux-nuts, the original Phil’s was a homey dive adjacent to a seafood market and the brainchild of small businessman and Mid City resident Phil Tuminello, 225 reports in a new feature from the current issue.
Charismatic former LSU equipment manager Gus Piazza took over the restaurant in 1975. Known for his gift of gab and extensive network of contacts, Piazza forged Phil’s into a local icon that catered to power brokers and regulars alike. The restaurant was perhaps best known for its enigmatic back room, a closed-door section of the restaurant that seated around 30 patrons. It was a common lunch spot for state and local politicians, including then-Gov. Edwin Edwards, LSU coaching staff and local business leaders.
After a long, successful run on Government Street, the Piazza family moved the restaurant to a larger location on Concord Avenue in 2003. The family hired a chef to help grow the menu and carry the concept to the next level. But by then, Gus Piazza’s health was failing and the family closed the restaurant in 2007. Five months later, Gus died.
His sons, Jordan and Anthony Piazza, dreamed of reopening it. And after being approached by commercial real estate agent Donnie Jarreau when Thai Kitchen left Southdowns Shopping Center, the brothers jumped at the chance.
They began transforming the Southdowns space to channel the old Phil’s. Pieces from Gus’ collection of LSU sports memorabilia are everywhere, and there’s even a closed-door back room reserved for dignitaries, Jordan says.
“It’s been a great oyster season so far,” he says. “We’re really excited to be back in business.”
225 has the full story.