Hannah Q’s Barbecue, a Prairieville-based restaurant, is opening its second location in the Government Street building near South Foster Drive that previously housed The Jambalaya Shoppe, which closed in late 2017.
It’s the latest of several restaurants to move to the Mid City corridor, which has seen an explosion of redevelopment in the past three years or so.
Consider, for example, how fast the Hannah Q’s deal came together: The 2,000-square-foot building, which has been vacant since The Jambalaya Shoppe’s previous owners retired, wasn’t even on the market when commercial agent Matthew Laborde of Elifin Realty contacted the owners in May with a potential sale offer.
They accepted and although the sale won’t close until July, the buyer has already found a tenant to lease the property—Hannah Q’s owner Herb Fong.
“I put it under contract and we listed it for lease and within three weeks we had two really strong offers,” Laborde says. “There was so much interest in it. We showed it to like 10 different restaurant groups.”
Laborde says it’s typical of the kind of activity he’s seeing along the Mid City stretch of Government Street. Less than a mile away, he’s been showing the building that for 55 years has housed Taylor Clark Gallery to potential buyers, as the gallery is downsizing and shifting more of its business online. In the past week, he’s shown it to two potential brew pubs.
“It’s insane activity,” he says, noting that interest has intensified since the mixed use development Square 46 and its gourmet food hall have opened.
Granted, Laborde has a vested interest in saying so. His Elifin Realty offices are in the heart of the action on Government Street, and he is unabashedly knocking on the doors of commercial property owners in the neighborhood, asking them if they’re interested in selling because he believes the time is right.
But he has data to back up his anecdotal assertions. A comparison of nearly two dozen commercial sales of Government Street property dating back to 2010 shows the price per square foot of properties that sold more than 24 months ago averaged just under $60. Properties that have sold within the past two years, by comparison, are averaging $146 per square foot.
Laborde notes those numbers reflect just a snapshot of sales and does not account for a myriad of other factors. But he says it indicates that values on Government Street are on a “significant upward swing.”
Fong says that’s why he is opening his second Hannah Q’s location there.
“We’d been looking all over Mid City and this opportunity came up and it was too good to pass up,” he says.
Fong estimates it will take as much as $250,000 to renovate his new space, which will include building an outdoor patio. He hopes to be open by the late fall.
(Read a recent Business Report cover story on Mid City’s renaissance by clicking here.)