January 02, 2013
Ten years ago, Magazine Street was home to about 25 restaurants; mostly clustered on a handful of blocks. Today, there’s more than three times that number.
New Orleans, as a whole, has seen a surge of new eateries since Hurricane Katrina. But the growth rate on Magazine Street is particularly eyebrow-raising.
The 4200 block is a good example. As of this month, there are five restaurants on that block, of which three are newcomers that opened within the past year – Magasin, Saucy’s BBQ and N’awlin’s Jazz Café. Another, Dominique’s on Magazine, is scheduled to debut in the next month.
N’awlin’s Jazz Café, at 4206 Magazine St., took over the former C’est La Vie bistro space two weeks ago. It’s the second location for Arthur and Shawnette Humphrey, who also own a café and packaged spice shop in the French Market, where Arthur Humphrey’s grandfather started a produce stand in the 1920s.
Further downriver on Magazine, Tay and his business partners in Byblos and Salu restaurants, Gaby Saliba and Hicham Khodr, had plans to add to the boom, but lately have slowed their approach. In November, they revamped Byblos, moving it into the space formerly occupied by Nacho Mama’s at 3242 Magazine. In the old Byblos location, they’re considering creating a new Mexican taqueria.
In the same block as Salu, there’s also a new player moving in. The owners of Baru Bistro & Tapas recently leased the former Rocky’s Pizza space at 3222 Magazine St. and are planning to open Basin Seafood and Spirits, a new casual restaurant focused on Louisiana’s fresh catch.
His count, though, doesn’t include take-out-only places, bars with food, fast-food places and national chains, such as Jamba Juice, the juice bar franchise that opened recently on the corner of Magazine and Louisiana Avenue.
“We’ve talked about trying to form a sub-restaurant/bar association group,” said Sam Farnet, owner of Joey K’s restaurant and president of the merchants association. “It hasn’t come to fruition yet, but I’d say it’s likely going to happen.”
Such growth is slowly changing the pace of life on Magazine. Some boutiques and gallery owners are staying open later and on holidays to take advantage of the dinner crowds.
“We have never in our history been open on Easter Sunday, because Magazine Street was always such a ghost town on that day,” said Evie Poitevent, co-owner of Feet First Shoes, Handbags and Accessories at 4122 Magazine St. “But for Easter 2012, we noted that there were several new restaurants, so we thought we’d give it a try, and we had a fantastic day.”
With Dominique’s on Magazine about to open nearby, Feet First now is considering working with the restaurant on some cross promotions. “If people show their (Feet First) sales receipt at Dominique's they would get some sort of special promo or discount, and vice versa,” Poitevent said.
“Our little section of middle Magazine had been relatively sleepy, and now it’s really filling up,” she said. “We’re excited about it. Food, booze and shopping go really well together.”