Mid-City wine lovers may soon rejoice.
The owners of the Mid-City bar and restaurant Bayou Beer Garden are planning a new venture, Bayou Wine Garden, slated to open adjacent to the ever-popular beer hall and restaurant in spring 2015.
Architectural plans call for an arched bridge to connect the two bars by courtyard. Although owners want to replicate the casual atmosphere of Bayou Beer Garden, the new bar will also be slightly more polished, offering “French Quarter-style” dining and wine sipping complete with in-house cured meats, cheeses and more than 150 different types of wine, according to David Demarest, general manager of Bayou Beer Garden and owning partner of Bayou Wine Garden.
He compares his newest venture, “a beautiful and inviting space,” to the Bywater-located Bacchanal, or Delachaise, located in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue.
“We want to be that of Mid-City,” Demarest said. “We want to bring these people to us, rather than have them leave to go explore other places.”
The new wine garden, slated to occupy an old house at 315 and 317 North Rendon Street between Bienville and Conti streets, may open as early as March or April 2015. The architecture has already been approved by the City Planning Commission, Demarest said. Now, the owners just have to get a conditional use permit approved by City Council during a meeting slated for mid-November.
Aside from Demarest, Bayou Wine Garden is owned by his wife and chef Virginia Demarest, as well as Bayou Beer Garden owners Fiona Delargy and Dean DiSalvo.
“They really liked it,” Demarest said about approval from city planners. “We’ve been pushed through so far, which we’re happy about.”
Architecturally, the bar’s design was implemented in such a way that it exactly mirrors Bayou Beer Garden, abutting the back of its patio and parking lot. The two will adjoin in the back. And, like Bayou Beer Garden, Bayou Wine Garden will have indoor and outdoor spaces, which will be designed to accommodate revelers wearing Jazz Fest attire as easily as couples looking for a nice place to have a date.
“Think wine, but don’t think expensive — we’re approachable,” Demarest said. “And we’re easy. We’re fitting in the neighborhood just the way Bayou Beer Garden fits in, but with wine.”
When explaining the architecture of the new venture, Demarest described a sprawling space that will include an airy, oval bar area with views into an open kitchen, outdoor patios and an “old-world courtyard, complete with gentle splashing sounds of the fountains and lush plants, inspired by the traditional courtyards of the French Quarter.” Between outside and inside, as many as 140 people will be able to patronize the bar and eatery.
And, rather than tear down the existing structure that will house the restaurant part of the bar, he plans to renovate it so the old “historic charm” is incorporated into design.
“It will be a beautiful and inviting space to sit and sip a glass of wine, snack on a plate of meats and cheeses, and catch up on local news with your neighbors,” Demarest said.
On Tuesday, Mid-City Neighborhood Organization board members voted to give Demarest a letter of recommendation he can show to City Council members.
Demarest has also held a neighborhood meeting, as required in his rezoning application. Of the 98 people invited to the neighborhood meeting, held in late August, seven showed up, according to the Bayou Wine Garden zoning application with City Planning Commission. Most neighbors seemed excited about the project, but did bring up two concerns: noise levels and parking.
“As renters, we’re for anything that improves the neighborhood, and [are] excited about these plans,” according to a summary of comments made by Dylan Leach to Bayou Beer Garden owners, according to the application. “Noise as people leave the bar is a concern.”
Demarest, who is requesting zoning for a bar, rather than a restaurant, wouldn’t have live music, he said, which should cut down on the number of area noise complaints.
“That would be my main concern, would be the noise level,” Mid-City Neighborhood Organization President Jennifer Farwell said at Tuesday’s meeting. “But if you’re not going to have live music, that’s less of an issue.”
Owners have also redesigned the parking lot to add new spaces, he said. Moreover, they want the new bar to support the Lafitte Greenway, a 2.6 mile park slated to run from Louis Armstrong Park in the French Quarter to City Park in Mid-City. To that end, they plan to have plenty of bike racks available, Demarest said.
“We want to bring people with bikes over,” he said. “It’s a great way of transportation over here.”
Ultimately, Demarest said the new project will improve the neighborhood by providing a much-needed face lift raising real estate value.
“This building was a rundown shotgun-double rental unit in desperate need of some TLC, which needed major renovations to be habitable,” the Mid-City Wine Bar application reads. “We will convert it into an open space with historic Mid-City charm.”