For restaurateurs and chefs considering opening a restaurant in greater Baton Rouge, certain neighborhoods stand out as “A” locations. Pricier parts of town indeed get scooped up by national chains that can afford higher rents, while eclectic eateries gravitate toward neighborhoods where residents are keenly interested in the next food trend. Here’s a look at the hottest real estate for restaurants.
Lunch spots that cater to downtown’s 55,000 workers are still the neighborhood’s bread and butter, but the dinner business has been building steam. Developer Derek Fitch, part of team that opened trendy oyster bar Jolie Pearl last fall, says downtown still has plenty of upside, especially with so much residential development underway. “We’ve got 300 to 400 units coming online in next 18 months,” Fitch says. “These are all announced and they each have a different demographic.” Retail pods are expected in new developments, including the IBM building, says Fitch. And, he adds, development likely will push eastward. “There’s room for more growth,” he says. “I believe in the next 10 years, the center of downtown will have shifted out toward the interstate.”
Maestri-Murrell commercial real estate broker Jonathan Walker says restaurants are attracted to the area of Perkins Road between Acadian Thruway and College Drive because of its visibility and the general lack of restaurants there currently. That makes Rouzan, the controversial traditional neighborhood development, a prime spot for restaurant investment. Boutique movie theater Alamo Drafthouse, which serves food and alcohol, is expected to open in 2016, and eateries are likely. Latter and Blum commercial real estate broker Ty Gose, who is handling leasing for Rouzan, was mum about specifics, but he says the development will have a related announcement in the next 60 days.
Mall of Louisiana
Where is there synergy, there are restaurants, says Walker, and there’s plenty of synergy near the Mall of Louisiana. “The mall area is an ‘A’ location. You have hospitals, a lot of retail and a lot of cars,” he says. Prime locations mean top dollar rents, which makes the area more in reach of national chains than local spots. In 2014, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Grimaldi’s Coal Wood-Fired Pizzeria opened right outside the mall.
Perkins Road Overpass
“I always say that it’s the closest thing to Magazine Street we have in Baton Rouge,” Walker says. “It’s got the cool, quirky feel with older bars and newer, trendy places coming in.” About two dozen restaurants and bars inhabit a less than one mile span on Perkins Road between Zeeland Street Market and Acadian Village, including newcomer Crispy Catch, a quick service seafood spot that opened in March. “It’s the kind of area you want to keep coming back to,” Walker says.
Now underway with several anchor tenants, Juban Crossing is a 471-acre mixed used development that can accommodate 100 stores and restaurants. Located at the northwest corner of Interstate 12 and Juban Road, the development hosts a Rouses Supermarket (the first in the Capital Region), Academy Sports and Outdoors, Bed Bath & Beyond and other large retailers. Two restaurants are underway, including Walk-On’s and Stroubes. Developer John Schneider, an investor in Stroubes, says the area presented a large population, lots of retail and few eateries. “What attracted us to the place is the stores. Rouses and Belk’s are doing tremendous business,” Schneider says. “There are a quarter million people living in the area, and between Hammond and the East Baton Rouge Parish line, there are really no restaurants.”
Government Street already hosts veteran local eateries Fleur de Lis, Jay’s Bar-B-Q, Bistro Byronz, Superior Grill, La Caretta and others, and it is the new home of Anthony’s Italian Deli and Tiger Deaux-nuts, which succeeded in other parts of town. FuturEBR, the East Baton Rouge Parish master plan, calls for the addition of bike lanes and traffic-calming measures along Government Street that could begin later this year. That energy has helped attract Modern Meals, a healthy take-out business that opened last month, and anticipated businesses such as Twine and Chicory Coffee. Chef Chris Wadsworth, founder of the culinary training program Triumph Kitchen, has reported he plans to open a new restaurant in Mid City soon. “We can’t say what it is yet,” Wadsworth says, “but it will be in Mid City.”