Menu Flashback: Don's Seafood 1972
Photo by J.C. Reid
Back in 1972, the Landry brothers were on a roll. They'd opened four of their Cajun-inspired seafood restaurants in Louisiana and had just begun a push into Texas with a restaurant in Beaumont. One of their employees, Jim Gossen, ordered a new menu design for their flagship restaurant in Morgan City, Louisiana. Made up of six panels -- half listing food and prices, the other half containing stories about the Landry family -- the menu exuded a sense of confidence and success. The Don's Seafood & Steak House restaurant chain was growing and expanding.
Eventually, the Landry brother's offspring, along with Gossen and others as partners, would roar into Houston with several highly successful restaurants -- Don's and Willy G's among them. Years later, Gossen and the Landrys would (controversially) sell out to Tilman Fertitta, who created what is now Landry's Restaurants Inc. The Landrys either died or moved on to other businesses; Gossen owns the Louisiana Foods seafood distributorship here in Houston.
Recently Gossen was digging through some old boxes and found a trove of old Don's menus, one of them from the Morgan City restaurant in 1972.
It was in mint condition. The first thing you notice about the menu is, of course, the prices. The most expensive item on the menu is a 12-ounce rib-eye steak for $6.50. A broiled red snapper filet is $3.95 (it would probably go for $20-plus nowadays).
More significantly, the menu includes invaluable historical content describing how the Landry's restaurant empire was started. The center panel includes information on the Landry brothers' father, Alzace Landry, who started a meat market in Lafayette. The back panel describes the creation of a "Crawfish Ranch" for uninterrupted supply of crawfish to the growing restaurant chain. The bottom-left of the back panel includes the words "An Angers Bowen Original." This refers to the prominent Lafayette, Louisiana-based advertising firm Angers, Bowen and Associates that designed the menu. Apparently when you're on a roll, you only hire the best.
You can view the whole menu by clicking the links below.
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