Behind the Scenes of Superior Grill: How one New Orleans Restaurant Prepares for Mardi Gras Madness

by Grace Blankenhorn

“People plan vacations every year to come to Mardi Gras. For us, it’s kind of the opposite of that.,” explains McKinley Eastman, managing partner at Superior Grill, a well established Mexican restaurant in Uptown, New Orleans. Eastman has worked as the managing partner of Superior Grill since 1977, never missing one parade float past  the restaurant along the famous parade route stretching  St. Charles Ave. for twenty eight years. Eastman’s contributions and unique experiences make Superior Grill one of the most desirable and welcoming community attractions during Mardi Gras season. 

Mardi Gras is the biggest weekend of the year for the city of New Orleans. In 2019, there were 53 million visitors, the biggest crowd the city had seen since Katrina. (1) However, in 2021, following the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic, New Orleans officials temporarily shut down all bars and alcohol distributors from February 12th to February 16th and New Orleans police officials were instructed to block off the French Quarter area, orders that exceeded through Mardi Gras Day. (2) Following the shut down in 2021, the festival season in 2022 saw an increase in visitors. Nonetheless, as the pandemic slowly diminishes the city is predicting a drastic increase in numbers of visitors as the world evolves to the new normal. 

Superior’s signature styrofoam cup listing the parade schedule.

For restaurants and bars, Eastman describes the weekend before Fat Tuesday as, “taking a really busy Friday or Saturday night and having ten of those back to back all day, every day of the weekend.” So, how does a local restaurant, usually staffed and prepped for an average night, prepare for potentially 53 million New Orleans visitors? For Superior Grill,  preparation begins six months prior to the season, beginning with designing their signature Mardi Gras Styrofoam cup that incorporates the parade schedule and a festive new logo. For Superior Grill, every aspect of the restaurant is considered.

Superior’s greenhouse landscape and plants on the outside porch.

During the winter months, the restaurant’s signature greenhouse exterior  begins to bloom. To ensure protection, Superior builds a structure to protect their plants from getting trampled with the crowds watching the parades. Eastman reflects that their plants and landscape design is something the restaurant goes overboard to protect. Superior Grill prides themselves on their unique greenery. Superior Grill always has a large group of versatile staff members who choose to work for Mardi Gras. Eastman believes this is a reflection of how the restaurant treats their staff members. Each year students, parents, and past-employees return to Superior to support the community they worked tirelessly to build. 

Through years of experience running a restaurant during Mardi Gras, Eastman has learned that Superior Grill goes through four weeks’ worth of business in one week’s time, meaning that they have to dramatically increase product inventory in preparation. “So basically, every item that we use in the restaurant we have to go through each one of those items and say whether that’s something we’re going to use more of and how much of that product we need for the weekend.” This includes everything from Styrofoam cups and lids to tortilla chips and high chairs for younger guests. Over his twenty eight years of Mardi Gras planning, Eastman has dissected customer ordering patterns, finding that people tend to order more simple dishes, such as a chicken Quesadilla, or their most popular item during the weekend: a fresh margarita. For this reason, Superior orders  over fifty times as much margarita mix than a typical week during Mardi Gras. 

With four weeks’ worth of food prepared for one weekend, storage becomes the biggest obstacle that Superior Grill faces each year. “For regular business, you have a storage shelf that you use to hold food cases for the week. So now you have to find areas and storages for the right amount of stuff, and you have to find a space for everything without overcrowding the kitchen or even the restaurant.” For Superior Grill, Mardi Gras requires a complete reorganization of  regular storage methods. In a typical week, the restaurant receives three deliveries consisting of  four or five boxes. During Mardi Gras season, these deliveries explode to reach fifty or sixty sizable orders, requiring the staff to reconfigure food storage in the most efficient and manageable way. 

During the weekend of Fat Tuesday, the peak of the Mardi Gras season, Superior Grill leaves their balcony section facing St.Charles Ave open for large party reservations. In the past ten years the same business group has chosen to rent this space to enjoy private dining all day, an air conditioned seated space, and a perfect view of the parade for the whole weekend. In regard to their indoor dining space, Superior Grill has tried different methods of seating over the years, however, they have settled on open seating as the preferable method. 

“As a restaurant we’ve kind of set it up to be that person, you know, when a mom with a young daughter walks in they can use the bathroom and maybe buy a coke on the way out in exchange,” boasts Eastman. Each carnival season, Eastman along with a strong team of Superior employees hammer away to cultivate a community and safe haven for Mardi Gras celebrators. The restaurants’ location on the parade routes makes it the perfect spot for dehydrated and hungry parade-goers to stop in for anything, and Superior Grill toils to create that space.. However, this doesn’t occur without the hard work and experience that Eastman and the Superior Grill staff have dedicated each year to assist in making the Mardi Gras experience exceptional for anyone who walks in the door. Next year, when you find yourself starved and dehydrated on St. Charles watching the Krewe De Bacchus, look for the shrouded greenery and flowing margaritas along the porch of Superior Grill, and you will find a community of stability and support within the madness that is Mardi Gras. 


  1. Potter, William Taylor. “Record Numbers Attend Louisiana Festivals: Tourism Rebounds after Covid.” The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, 6 May 2022,
  2. Reimann, Nicholas. “Mardi Gras Shutdown: New Orleans Closing All Bars, Restricting Access to French Quarter for Holiday.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 5 Feb. 2021,
  3.  Eastman, McKinley. Interview. Conducted by Grace Blankenhorn. February 8th, 2023. 

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