Our “Meet the Neighbors” series gives you a closer look at the people and businesses that make us proud to call downtown New Orleans home.
Zach and Max Materne (pictured above with the Triumph Bonneville, with Max in the foreground) of The Transportation Revolution (TTRNO) have been selling the best in European motorbikes since 2002. Having moved downtown from Mid-City in 2006, just around the corner from the South Market District, this family-owned business was one of the first to open in the area post-Katrina. We had the opportunity to ask Zach a few questions about the business, why they chose the neighborhood, and how he sees the future of downtown New Orleans.
Why did you open TTRNO?
It’s a long answer! My parents, my brother, and I started as a Vespa dealership in 2002. My mom decided she wanted to open a Vespa dealership after we came back from a trip to Italy, but we had no experience with two wheels. We were one of the first certified Vespa dealers to open in the U.S. We thought the product worked very well for New Orleans with people moving around a lot. Especially now, twelve years later, the city has come to the point where it makes the most sense, especially downtown.
In 2004, we decided we needed to get into a bigger space [the dealership was originally located in Mid-City]. So we bought this building in 2004, Katrina hits, we finally get in here in 2006, and we had a lot of extra space. At that point there was more competition for Vespas in the market, so we had the opportunity to grow into motorcycles and bring on two additional European motorcycle brands: Triumph [British] in 2007 and Ducati [Italian] in 2008. We kind of refocused and went after the entire motorcycle spectrum.
Why did you choose to open TTRNO downtown?
The product lends itself well to an urban environment. We were looking at either side of the Quarter – either the Marigny or downtown. We really wanted to find a place where we could be in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
What’s your favorite thing about the neighborhood?
The walkability, and how much more walkable it’s become since we came here. The development kind of started at Poydras and worked its way over here. The grocery store [Rouses] was huge – overnight the neighborhood changed. That really made it a neighborhood. My parents live and work in this building, and some days they don’t even need to leave the block!
Being in the urban setting – it’s just fun to be in the middle of everything. It’s really great for the brands that we carry – we’re the only motorcycle dealer in Orleans Parish proper, so the European flair of our brands combined with being downtown, it just works very well.
What’s your favorite memory since opening?
I have so many! Watching Hurricane Isaac from the showroom was a good one. We’ve also had some really funny people, lots of characters.
How do you see the future of the neighborhood?
I see it becoming more dense, and more desirable.