You’ve got strife to thank for the po’boy, and Johnny De Grusha for Johnny's Po-boys.
As the story goes, the New Orleans Street Railway Union, Division 194, went on strike for several months in 1929, leaving most of its members with little to make ends meet. Two sympathetic former streetcar operators, brothers Benny and Clovis Martin, who had opened Martin Brothers' Coffee Stand and Restaurant in the French Market in 1922, fed the striking workers. Their free sandwiches were made of pound loaves of French bread cut lengthwise in three, then filled with ham, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo. “Here comes another ‘poor boy’ man,” they would say, as the workers entered the restaurant, and thus, the po’boy was born.
Johnny and Betty De Grusha may not have invented the po’boy, but having opened their grocery/sandwich store at 506 Chartres in 1950, theirs is the oldest family-owned po-boy restaurant in town. The De Grushas relocated to their current location on St. Louis Street in 1959, expanding to keep up with demand. Today, the family’s third generation continues Johnny’s tradition, one embodied by his famous quote, “Even my failures are edible!”
Johnny's po'boys are perfectly proportioned, expertly dressed, and easy to find in the French Quarter. The Johnny’s Special (ham, roast beef, American and Swiss cheeses), and the surf and turf (roast beef and fried shrimp) are noteworthy. The big egg biscuits are also worth noting as they provide a fabulous breakfast option and a top-notch hangover cure.