New Third Street bar opens for business in downtown Baton Rouge

    The Bengal Tap Room, a new sports bar and grill located in the Third Street space formerly occupied by The Draft House bar, had a soft opening over the weekend and will begin regular operations next week.

    Former Overpass Merchant general manager Dustin Malina, who is teaming up with Kalurah Street Grill co-owner Brad Watts and Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar general manager Eric Carnegie on the venture, says the establishment received its liquor license from the state Jan. 12 so the partners quickly decided to open for business in time for the NFL playoff games.

    “It went well and we had a nice crowd, considering we didn’t really advertise,” Malina says. “It was a great weekend—until the end of the Saints game.”

    The Bengal Tap Room is located in a 3,000-square-foot space at 421 Third Street that was vacated in October when John Delgado’s Draft House closed.

    In the adjacent 3,000-square-foot space, previously occupied by Restaurant IPO,

    Malina and his partners are planning to open a Creole restaurant, Cecilia, with a 6,000-square-foot private event space called The Loft at Cecilia on the building’s second floor.

    Cecilia will serve lunch and dinner. The Loft at Cecilia will be marketed for receptions, luncheons and corporate parties.

    Malina says plans are moving forward with the renovation of the Cecilia spaces and he hopes to open there within the next two months. Kalurah Street Grill Executive Chef Kelley McCann will serve as executive chef at Cecilia and design the restaurant’s Creole menu. He will pull double duty, going back and forth between Kalurah Street Grill and the new downtown restaurant. Malina will serve as general manager of both new establishments.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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