Cocha building ‘parklet’ to expand restaurant, help beautify downtown

    As it celebrates its third anniversary this weekend, Cocha is completing the construction of a parklet in front of its 6th Street restaurant that will give the downtown eatery about 25 additional seats while also enhancing the downtown streetscape.

    Parklets are sidewalk extensions built out into the street that provide additional space and amenities for pedestrians and establishment patrons.

    Cocha co-owners Enrique Pinerua and Saskia Spanhoff, who received permission from the Metro Council in September to install the parklet on three parking spaces in front of their restaurant, say they wanted to help beautify the neighborhood and complement a new, 20,000-square foot mural across the street from their restaurant.

    “Once the mural was completed, we got inspired to do a parklet, and we wanted to help people enjoy beautiful, outdoor Baton Rouge,” Pinerua says

    The structure consists of a raised platform of low pavers that sits atop risers and is surrounded by large planters that will be filled with seasonal foliage. The structure, which cost about $30,000 to build, will have outdoor heaters in the winter and umbrellas to shade from summer heat.

    It is expected to be completed the second week of January.

    Though Cocha was not a pioneer on the downtown restaurant scene, its location—several blocks east of the cluster of commercial activity on and around Third Street—was something of a novelty and a risk.

    In the years since, additional residential units have been completed in the area, most notably the 140-unit Heron multifamily building on Florida and Sixth streets.

    Pinerua and Spanhoff say their business has continued to improve and that 2019 was their best year yet.

    What does downtown need more of to help things improve further?

    “I’ve always thought downtown needs more retail,” Spanhoff says. “I think it has enough attractions and we’ve got enough restaurants but that is the one thing that seems to be missing.” 

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