This article apperared in the New Orleans City Business Magazine.

Why Stay?

New Orleanians tell City Business why they’re not giving up on the city

by April Capochino


After Hurricane Katrina, Gary “Koz” Gruenig was airlifted from his flooded Gentilly business, dropped off at the University of New Orleans and then shipped out to Interstate 10 at Causeway Boulevard to spend the night before being reunited with his family the next day in Denham Springs.

Gruenig, 53, lost his home and The Bakery on Franklin Ave., the restaurant he co-owned since 1983.

His family shuffled from Denham Springs to Jackson, Miss., to Covington and then Destrehan before finally buying a house in Uptown New Orleans in January. He opened his own restaurant, Koz’s, in Harahan in November.

He and his wife, Shawn, live in their new home with their sons Sam, 9 months, and Max, 18. Their 16-year-old son, Gerald, still lives in Covington with Gruenig’s sister and attends Fontainebleau High School.

A framed photo of Gruenig’s flooded Franklin Avenue business sits on the counter of Koz’s as a reminder of where he’s been. But these days, the businessman, father and husband is only concerned about where he’s going.

“This whole Katrina thing has been different for me,” said Gruenig, who was born in Pennsylvania and moved to New Orleans when he was 7 years old.

“I was lucky. I landed on my feet. I’ve got mixed emotions about what happened but I never thought for one second that I would leave here. New Orleans is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. It’s a great town and we’re lucky it’s still here.”

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