Mar 6, 2024 - Business

At 100, Rubensteins opens a New Orleans hotel

A black and white photo of a shop window at Rubensteins. Men's clothing and mannequins are in the window.

Rubensteins, seen in an undated photo, has been open in New Orleans for 100 years. Photo: Courtesy of Rubensteins

Rubensteins, the iconic, family-owned and -operated men's clothing store on Canal Street, turns 100 this year.

Why it matters: Some families can't even make it through a single Thanksgiving dinner.

Flashback: Morris Rubenstein opened the haberdashery in 1924, and he was soon joined by his brothers Elkin and Sam.

  • Through the 1950s and 1960s, the business grew rapidly, expanding into six buildings at the corner of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue.
  • Over the years, Rubensteins became known for service as tailored to customers' individual needs as the suits they sold.
  • After Hurricane Katrina, the business was the first retailer to reopen on Canal Street, just 51 days after the storm blew through.
  • "We're in the hospitality business," says third-generation owner and manager Kenny Rubenstein. "That's the way I see this job. I sell laundry. And the reality is, it's about making people comfortable."
Kenny Rubenstein poses for a photo inside the Rubensteins store. Men's clothing is seen on racks and folded on tables around him.
Kenny Rubenstein is a third-generation member of his family to work at Rubensteins. Photo: Courtesy of Rubensteins

Yes, but: Working with family isn't a cake walk.

  • Rubenstein remembers growing up and while his friends could walk away from a tough day of work to blow off some steam, he'd instead hear about it at the dinner table, too.
  • "It's a blessing. It's a curse," Rubenstein says. "Different things are said about family businesses, and most are all true."
  • His No. 1 tip for making a family business work?
  • "Learn to separate family and business," he says. "If your uncle is yelling at you, that's rough, but if your boss is yelling, maybe it's fine and that's fair."
A freshly-made made is seen in a hotel room. Floor to ceiling windows separate the bedroom from a balcony.
The Rubenstein Hotel is inspired by the family-owned shop downstairs. Photo: Courtesy of the J Collective

The latest: As Rubensteins evolved, the family considered new ways to use all their Canal Street space.

  • This year, thanks to a partnership with J Collective Hotels and Development, they opened a hotel and a bar.
  • The family also remodeled the store as part of that project.
  • "The hotel seemed like a reasonable leap," Rubenstein says. "It's an easy thing when clients are coming in, they ask, where should I stay? … It's a no-brainer to say 'come in, we got a room for you."
In a black and white photo, Morris, Elkin and Sam Rubenstein pose for a photo in a store stockroom.
Brothers Morris, Elkin and Sam Rubenstein pose for a photo inside a stock room of their family-owned men's clothing store. The store opened in 1924. Photo: Courtesy of Rubensteins
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