A group of local restaurateurs has the right of first refusal on the downtown building at 1913 Third St. that is available now that former Metro Councilman John Delgado’s maligned nightclub on the site, 1913, has closed.
But the group is not necessarily looking to open another restaurant or nightclub in the space. Brad Watts—who is a part of the group and counts among his downtown establishments Cecilia and The Bengal Tap Room, both on Third Street—says the group is considering several options.
“There’s a group of people talking about what would be the best fit there,” Watts says. “But it doesn’t have to be a club. Retail is very much in the mix.”
Property owner Gordon “Skeet” Leblanc, who owns the building with several family members, agrees that retail might be a good use for the 6,000-square-foot space. With the growing number of residents and businesses in newly redeveloped downtown buildings, some sort of retail establishment might make sense, he says.
The historic building, built in 1913, has been in LeBlanc’s family on his mother’s side, the Hart family, since it was built. Originally the Old Louisiana Theater, the building served as a venue for live theater and, later, movies, until becoming a lunch space in the 1970s, Riverside Patty.
Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer believes because of the building’s rich history it might be a good venue for a live music club. Though several downtown bars have live music, there’s not a space dedicated specifically to music, like, say, The Varsity, another former theater, near the LSU campus gates.
“We have things emerging downtown like the Third Street Songwriters Festival so I’d like to encourage a use that would capitalize on that,” Rhorer says. “Baton Rouge used to have local songwriters. There was a vibrant scene here in the 1960s.”
LeBlanc says he doesn’t want to speculate about possible uses at this point, but he’s encouraged by all the interest they’ve received.
Delgado’s club opened in the space in 2015.
It was recently cited by the parish Alcoholic Beverage Control for failure to pay sales taxes, operating without an occupational license, serving liquor to underage patrons and employing underage bartenders.