Dorothy “Dot” Domilise died Friday of congestive heart failure at the age of 90. For more than seven decades Miss Dot welcomed guests with hugs and friendly questions about their families at Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar, located at Annunciation and Bellcastle streets in New Orleans.
“Now she’s makin’ po-boys for the Big Man up there” said one customer. Other loyal patrons recalled the matron of their favorite Uptown restaurant with much love and appreciation.
Along with local politicians, the neighborhood restaurant was visited by actors such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, journalist Anderson Cooper, and singer and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Photographs of football players Peyton Manning and Eli Manning adorned the walls behind the bar, and reality show star Anthony Bourdain once interviewed her for his hit television show.
According to one loyal customer, Miss Dot referred to the thousands of po-boys she served over the years as “sandwiches” and regardless of which sandwich was ordered, plenty of napkins were a must.
Miss Dot lived in a small apartment connected to the restaurant, and it is said that her least favorite day of the week was Sunday because on this day the restaurant was closed. She missed the customers who she thought of as friends.
The South is revered for its cuisine, and po-boys are no exception. Legend has it that the origin of the po-boy can be attributed to transit workers who were on strike during the late 1920’s. The Martin Brothers offered the hungry men large sandwiches. “Here comes another poor boy” the brothers exclained in reference to the strikers who filed into the Martin Brothers’ Coffee Stand and Restaurant for a free meal.
Miss Dot perfected po-boys over the years, and she will be equally remembered for her generous spirit and cheerful smile.