Mahony’s Irish Pub held a soft opening Wednesday in the West Chimes Street location formerly home to Reginelli’s Pizzeria, making the pub the third bar to land in the LSU North Gate area this year.
The new bar, next door to Highland Coffees, boasts six 65-inch TVs and will use the pizzeria’s former kitchen to grill burgers and other sandwiches after a grand opening is held next month, says owner Gary Brow.
“I think we’re making the first step to bring the Northgate back to students,” says Brown, who owns three other bars in Baton Rouge and Houma. “I think tailgating is going to be big for us. I don’t think anyone on Chimes Street has as many big TVs.”
Though he has plenty of experience operating bars, Brown says this is his first venture into the food business. He’s partnered with Mitch Rotolo of Rotolo’s Pizzeria and together they are developing a menu for Mahony’s.
Earlier this year, Barcadia—an arcade and bar with a full menu of food—also opened in the North Gate area, and, along with Mahony’s, State Bar is set to open some time later this year in the building Louie’s Cafe’s occupied before its move to Lake Street.
Clarke Cadzow, owner of Highland Coffees in the North Gate area, says he’s seeing a resurgence of bars in the neighborhood. Years ago, he says, the neighborhood was home to more of those establishments, but as students moved into the new living spaces on the south side of LSU, the bars followed.
“It’s less surprising for three to have opened in the last year or so than it is surprising that there weren’t more in the neighborhood already,” Cadzow says. “About every five years the landscape changes a little.”
Cadzow says the Mahony’s location was once a pool hall in the 1940s, and was later the popular Bayou Bar where some scenes of the movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape were filmed. Bayou Bar burned down in 2002, as did Highland Coffees with it. After the buildings were restored, Cadzow says, a string of tenants moved in and out of the location before Reginelli’s opened in about 2007.
As Mahoney’s works toward setting a grand opening date, Brown says he is still searching for bartenders to round out his staff. His first few days in business have gone well, he says.
“We had a bunch of friends come in and people walking by stopped in,” Brown says. “Maybe it’s been a long time since there’s been a bar of this status on this side of town and I think it’s been a long time coming.”