Much of this year’s local restaurant trends will be dictated by one particular area: Mid City, which should see high levels of activity itself.
That’s largely because the area—bound east to west by Foster Drive to Interstate 110, and north to south by Choctaw Drive to College Drive—is home to Electric Depot, the old Entergy site that’s been repurposed as a mixed-use development, and White Star Market, the gourmet food hall that opened in 2018. Both establishments house multiple restaurant concepts, with more lined up for 2020.
But it’s also a sign of the times, as city-parish officials and private investors continue pumping money into the area’s redevelopment, making the location an attractive option for many restaurateurs.
“Last year, tenants were willing to spend a significant amount of money on build-outs because rents were lower, but now they’re converting other spaces into restaurants as rents rise,” says Mathew Laborde of Elifin Realty, who markets properties in Mid City. “That raises the bar for the players that do get there and lessens the amount of people that are willing to make an investment there.”
Because space is becoming increasingly scarce, don’t expect the same surge seen in Mid City in 2019 to take place in 2020. But location-based demand should still hold strong for the area; real estate agents are closely watching the redevelopment of the Government Street Village strip center, for instance, which will be able to accommodate one to three new restaurants.
Mid City is also making a name for itself as a bar hub, evidenced by the recent opening of the long-planned Mid City Beer Garden, as well as the scheduled openings of Pelican to Mars, Cypress Coast Brewing and an upscale cocktail bar next to Elsie’s Plate and Pie.
To determine what concepts will work in Baton Rouge, notice what works in Mid City. It’s becoming the ideal testing ground for the city.
On a related matter:
Coming soon: Restaurants expected
to open this year in Baton Rouge
So far, announcements have been made for the following restaurants to open their doors in the Baton Rouge area this year:
• Austin-based taco chain Torchy’s Tacos will join LSU’s Nicholson Gateway development.
• A second location of Hot Tails is coming to Airline Highway in Prairieville.
• Restaurateur Ozzie Fernandez is opening a taqueria and bar concept called MODESTO in the Burbank Drive space formerly occupied by Breck’s Bistro.
• Electric Depot will welcome three new tenants: Blue Corn Tequila & Tacos (its second location), BORU and Sweet Society.
• Gov’t Taco is moving into a brick-and-mortar space on Government Street.
• Queso Mexican Restaurant will fill the Sherwood Forest Boulevard space vacated by The Shrimp Basket.
• Chicken Salad Chick will enter the Baton Rouge market in a new building near Burbank and Lee drives.
• Lafayette-based Pizza Artista is joining the Rouzan Traditional Neighborhood Development.
UP IN THE AIR…
• Tentative plans for The Vintage to occupy the shuttered Magpie Cafe space downtown face uncertainty after the recent closure of Provisions on Perkins, which has the same owners.
• A revived effort to secure a local Dat Dog franchisee.
The fast-casual frenzy
Fast-casual restaurants—which offer made-to-order, quick-service, fresh meals in an order-at-the-counter setting—are the fastest-growing sector of the restaurant industry, both nationally and in Baton Rouge. If the 2019 openings of Chow Mein, Atomic Burger, Vegan Friendly Foods, Too Saucy Pasta Bar and Smalls Sliders are any indication, fast-casual concepts will only continue to flood the food scene.