Sal’s Sno-balls

A fixture on Metairie Road since 1960, this family run institution continues to serve as a neighborhood summer hangout.

Sal’s Sno-balls
1823 Metairie Avenue, Metairie
(504) 666-1823  // 
facebook.com/salssnoball  //  @salssnoball


“At one time there were 13 snoball stands on Metairie Road,” recalled Steven Bel, owner of Sal’s Sno-balls. “Now I’m the last guy standing.”

Tucked back from Metairie Road, prefaced by an oak-shaded gravel parking lot, Sal’s has been a neighborhood institution since 1960.

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“Sal [Talluto] used to have a grocery store across the street, but he had a heart attack in 1958 and had to cut back,” Bel recounted. “He owned the house here, and he’d had a snoball stand before, so he opened a small stand in front of the house.”

The storefront was expanded for the 1969 summer season. At about the same time, the then-8-year-old Bel began picking up trash around the place for a dollar. By age 10, Sal was teaching Bel how to make snoballs. After the founder passed away, Bel worked for his wife and daughters.

Bel purchased the stand in 1991, while still working full-time for Continental Airlines. To this day he is committed to keeping the original flavors and methods intact.

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“We use the same recipes that he started with in 1960,” noted Bel. “We make everything from scratch, no preservatives, which means the syrups only last about 24 to 48 hours.”

Bel said the key to successful snoball marketing lies in creative flavor names. For instance, “Blue Eagle”  sells better than “Blueberry.” Some names reflect the times when they were invented, such as “Popeye” or “Sock It To Me,” a nod to the tagline of the popular “Laugh-In” TV show of the mid-60s.

While Hurricane Katrina didn’t cause major devastation along Metairie Road, the ensuing havoc put far more demands on Bel’s time. Within two years, he quit his job to focus on running Sal’s.

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The pandemic has had similar impacts. Bel described his biggest challenge as “what COVID has done to the supply industry. Now sometimes I have to drive to Baton Rouge just to get sugar.”

To address this, Bel buys in bulk where possible.

“We don’t want to run out of anything, so I’ve become a real hoarder,” he said with a laugh.

This approach also helps with his other major challenge, keeping his prices down. Volume sales are key to this, and being a local institution helps.

“It’s a big neighborhood hangout,” said Bel. “People sit outside and talk to their neighbors, kids run around, dogs are playing. Some people do come from farther away, partly because we are open late. We have families who have been coming here for generations.”

 

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