French Truck Coffee adding patio as ‘road diet’ work continues

French Truck Coffee is adding an outdoor patio at its Government Street shop as the city-parish eyes a spring 2019 completion date for the road diet project.

Mayer Building Company began construction on the 600-square-foot patio Monday, says French Truck founder and owner Geoffrey Meeker. And while it’s projected to last four weeks, he notes the patio might be finished sooner if construction continues moving quickly and if weather permits.

Once complete, two 16-foot patio umbrellas will cover the Government Street-facing deck, providing shade to patrons who can pop a squat in one of the 40 seats that will be available in time for the fall.

“It adds a sense of neighborhood when you can see people walking around outside rather than in their cars,” Meeker says.

Though a patio—a feature Meeker tries to incorporate in each location—was part of the coffee shop’s original design plan, the owner says its construction was put on hold because of the precursor work for the Government Street Road Diet, a roughly $11.7 million project to trim the busy thoroughfare from four lanes to two, plus a turning lane.

“We decided to wait for financial reasons,” he says, declining to discuss the project’s cost. “We knew we shouldn’t spend money until the road diet was further along.”

Fred Raiford, director of the city-parish department of transportation and drainage, says DOTD construction workers are still updating sidewalks to meet ADA requirements and replacing damaged curbs. Overlay work, which DOTD will also handle, is still “a ways off,” Raiford says, though he expects the state to transfer the roadway to the city-parish “sometime in April or May of next year.”

Ciara Hazey, general manager of the Government location, says road diet workers have finished sidewalk construction on the coffee shop’s side of the busy street, noting the sidewalk should help attract pedestrians and bicyclists to the patio.

The news comes soon after Curbside Burgers, also on Government, recently built a private event and catering space in its backyard.

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