“Chris pulled into the Manière Sisters Restaurant’s paved driveway, and whiffs of seafood gumbo filled the air. Melanie remembered coming here as a child. In fact, every Friday night, when she lived in Mississippi, her dad brought the family there for dinner, but back then, there was no all-you-can-eat pasta.
Initially, the Manière Sisters were two young sisters who took over the family restaurant back in the 1960s. Currently, two middle-aged Manière cousins ran it, but they kept the nostalgia alive. Rushing about wearing ’60s-style, print dresses swirling about their knees. Crinoline petticoats peeked out. They greeted every table with a smile as they pulled pads and pens from the patterned half-apron pockets, reminiscent of a time long ago.” ~ Shattered Guilt
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I loved going to eat at the Manière Sister’s Restaurant when I was a young girl in Bay St. Louis. My father took our family there often, but I don’t remember what I ate. My sisters tease me that all I ever remember about the past is what someone wore. Guilty! I did love their full swirling skirts. But my little sister remembers eating stuffed crab…a lot. I think the Manière sisters were taken with my cute little sister, who was only five at the time, and they treated us well. Come to find out, they treated everyone well, and they were well-loved—more on that in a minute.
I also remember the atmosphere. A bit dark, but warm and friendly. I remember the back of the restaurant jutting over the water on stilts. Here’s an old picture, a little like I remember.
Although it isn’t the restaurant, it’s a drug store on Beach Rd. built much the same way. I vaguely remember that building too. Storefronts lined Beach Road, with some of the backs constructed on stilts, hanging over the bay. Yes, I shiver, too, if those memories are correct! Hurricane Camille destroyed the restaurant in 1969 and most other buildings along the bay. Still, the sisters were pretty resilient, much like all of Bay St. Louis. They started all over again in a family home on Main Street. They continued to serve their delicious home-cooked meals with a side of Bay St. Louis charm.
Serving up the Nostalgia
I contacted the online magazine editor in Bay St. Louis for research. I mentioned The Shoofly magazine in another post. It’s a fun publication with beautiful pictures. If you want to read a little small-town nostalgia, click below.
Anyway, the editor told me of a Facebook Group called, “You know you’re from The Bay if….” So, I posted a question asking if anyone remembered the Manière sisters. Oh boy! Did they ever. Twenty-eight responses came back, as well as a photograph of the sisters, Dutch and Vee Maniere. I got goosebumps, reading about everyone’s shared memories. Of course, food was a big connection. I loved how one reader remembered the sister’s always welcomed their guests with a pitcher of ice tea in hand. And more than anything, was how friendly they were, and how loved. Here’s that picture of the sisters when they retired in the 70s with the local mayor, Mr. Bennett.
All for a dollar!
It turns out that some of the favorite dishes they served were po’boys, pizza, shrimp creole, lobster creole, and the best-fried chicken ever. They even made some kind of fantastic pineapple dessert. Now that one I’d wished I’d tasted fifty-six years ago. One person said their husband went there every day after school and had a roast beef po’boy and two root beers for a dollar. How’s that for hometown charm? A special thanks to all those that shared these memories.
What’s your special place?
I could go on and on about my memories that inspired Bay Town, but what about you? Do you have a restaurant that you frequent often? Some special place where you’re welcomed by name? If you do, I envy you. I have my favorites, and though we don’t go out often to eat, I sometimes wish for a place we can call our own—someplace like the Manière Sisters Restaurant.
Happy Blasts from the Past
Can you tell that I’m a bit of a romantic? But you know what, whether it’s in the past or present or somewhere in-between, those memories are unique places—special places in the heart. I’m so grateful for those happy blasts from the past. The Lord has been very gracious to me, and although life wasn’t always a bed of roses, I choose to remember those times filled with family, fun, and lots of love.
And come to think of it, I do have a special place. A glorious place where I’ll be welcomed…and you will be too! If you know Jesus, you have a place in heaven awaiting you. How special is that?
Thanks for joining me on this trip to BSL
I’ve had so much fun reliving the past of Bay St. Louis, which inspired Bay Town’s present in Shattered Guilt. And I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Would you please share your memories with me? I’d love to hear how the Lord has blessed your lives with places and people that hold that special place in your heart.