Due North by Legacy Kitchen
N'Tini's is the product of generations of small business owners with a lively passion for entertaining their customers.
The tradition started in 1973 when the parents of Donna Gaspard Benfatti, best known as Maw Maw and Poppy, opened a small grocery store and po-boy shop, Arabi Food Store in St. Bernard Parish.
This quaint grocery catered to local refineries and the neighborhood by serving their famous muffalettas and delicious roast beef po-boys. As the business was growing, so was the family. Donna met Mark Benfatti and they introduced their daughters, Dana, Mandy and Megan.
The girls quickly became friends. As time passed, Mark convinced Donna to marry him and her life would never be the same! They married, built a house and decided to add another venture to the family business. A small restaurant, Arabi Diner, was opened in 1996, serving customers breakfast, lunch and dinner 24/7.
This was the beginning of a commitment to the restaurant business. In 2000, the family decided to open a second location of Arabi Diner. A retail space became available right next door, making room for the local favorite Espresso Yourself Custom Coffee. This venture presented the perfect venue for live entertainment in a relaxing atmosphere. Espresso Yourself boomed and after a couple of years a larger location was needed.
The previous building was vacant once again and the concept of ''New Orleans Steak and Martinis'', or N'Tini's, was created. N'Tini's opened in 2004 and was an instant hit offering a unique atmosphere, attentive staff, mouth-watering steaks and delicious martinis.
As Donna and Mark managed two diners, a coffee house and now a steakhouse, they felt a sense of accomplishment. Having a wonderful staff created an opportunity for some time off, which was usually spent in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Life was busy, but sweet!
Everything was going great until August 29, 2005 when the news of a hurricane threatened to devastate the Gulf Coast. After securing the properties, evacuation was a must and the couple decided to get away for a long weekend until Katrina ''blew over''.
The next day proved to be tragic as the family watched the water soak through years of hard work and ruin the community of St. Bernard Parish. Devastated and heartbroken, the Benfattis vowed to never return to the restaurant business again.
A few weeks later, they ended up in St. Tammany parish staying with a dear friend and eventually landing back on their feet. In 2007, they learned that Rockefeller's restaurant was on the market.
Thinking, ''Never say never,'' Mark and Donna decided to give the restaurant business one more try. N'Tini's was resurrected and St. Tammany welcomed this St. Bernard classic, and its proprietors, with open arms. It's been a long road getting here, but Mark and Donna are grateful for the many new friends they have made, and still enjoy seeing their old friends customers!
Thank you for your patronage