The Trolley Stop Cafe: Story behind popular New Orleans restaurant on Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back

The Trolley Stop Cafe
Tourists and locals alike have fallen in love with The Trolley Stop Cafe over the years. However, the restaurant has been struggling, and was the focus of the Season 2 premiere of Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back. Pic credit: The Trolley Stop Cafe/Facebook

The Season 2 premiere of Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back finds the hot-headed British chef traveling to New Orleans to save The Trolley Stop Cafe from closing its doors.

Viewers get a firsthand look into the eatery’s struggles on the episode, but the full story behind the cafe is much more detailed.

The Trolley Stop Cafe opened its doors in February 1995 and was the brainchild of Swedish immigrant Hans Karlsson and Lucian, Keith, and Connie Cascio. The foursome envisioned a restaurant that would offer reasonably priced traditional Southern comfort food (ladled out in hearty portions, of course!).

In January 2017, Paul and Ragnar Karlsson (Hans’ son and grandson, respectively) bought and took ownership of the cafe, maintaining that same vision.

Over the years, The Trolley Stop Cafe has become a tourist attraction, partially because of its reputation for high-quality food at rock-bottom prices and also because of its location – right in the heart of the Lower Garden District on historic Saint Charles Avenue and close to an actual streetcar stop.

The menu is small, but mighty: All three meals are served all day long. Patrons can choose from Southern staples like fried chicken and waffles, shrimp po’boys, red beans and rice, and pecan pie.

Previously, The Trolley Stop had a very extensive menu, but had to scale it back because it simply could not keep up with demand, with hopes of bringing back beloved dishes in the near future when business picks up.

According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the old menu was eating into the business costs, literally — producing massive amounts of food waste and causing the establishment to “take drastic measures to stay open.” Drastic measures, indeed, if Gordon Ramsay is coming to visit your restaurant.

Yelp reviews are generally positive, with diners praising the restaurant for its hefty, delicious portions; friendly and prompt service, and its “homey atmosphere.” Facebook reviews are favorable as well, being recommended by nearly 1,500 people.

However, some reviews are less than enthusiastic, with patrons complaining of long waits, lackluster food, and meals arriving at tables either cold or lukewarm. Several diners also voiced their displeasure about the pared-down menu.

One thing’s for sure: This beloved eatery has certainly experienced its fair share of aches and pains over the years, but still remains a favorite. So will Gordon’s intervention keep The Trolley Stop Cafe from reaching the end of the road? We certainly hope so, though time will tell. We’ll be sure to check back!

To learn more about The Trolley Stop Cafe, check out its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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