In 1906 John Matassa emigrated from his native Sicily to New Orleans in the hopes of creating a better life for himself. He married Mamie Leto and opened Johnny’s Grocery and Bar, a small grocery store with an attached bar and kitchen, at 1001 Dauphine St. in the French Quarter in 1924.
John and Mamie lived above the store and raised one son, Cosimo Matassa, who went on to became a legendary recording engineer and studio owner after graduating from Warren Easton High School and briefly attending Tulane University. Over the years, Johnny became known for the kindness and courtesy that he extended to his customers, including letting customers “sign the book,” or charge their groceries, to be paid monthly.
In 1970, Cosimo’s two sons, John and Louis Matassa, bought Johnny’s Bar and Grocery from their grandfather and renamed it “Matassa’s.” They operated Matassa’s the way their grandfather had taught them, by always taking care of their customers, many of whom they had known since they were little boys. After the World’s Fair in 1984, John and Louis decided to close the bar in order to make room for more groceries.
Today, Matassa’s is still very much a family business, owned and operated by Louis Matassa, with many family members working there day to day. As customer-friendly as ever, Louis has added a deli, catering services, and free same-day delivery.