Even as they navigate a global pandemic, continuing labor and supply chain issues and a recent hurricane, several local restaurant operators are powering through challenges and planning new openings this fall.
Original concepts and refreshed locations will roll out over the next few weeks and months in Baton Rouge, heralding the continuing evolution of the Capital City’s dining scene.
Elaborately blended tiki cocktails are front and center in the forthcoming Lotus Lounge inside Soji: Modern Asian. Renovations started earlier this week on converting Soji’s entrance and bar area into the new lounge, intended to feel like a separate concept with its own hours and menu. Owner Chase Lyons says the Lotus Lounge menu will feature six iconic and six original tiki cocktails and a chalkboard lineup of small plates executed by Soji Chef Thien Nguyen. Follow it on Instagram at @drink.lotus
Frequenters of Bistro Byronz’s original location in Mid City have been eagerly anticipating its return to the neighborhood in part of the former White Star Market. The redesigned spot should open in early October, Byronz Restaurant Family CEO Emelie Alton says. Byronz’s reliable lunch, brunch and dinner menu will still be in place, along with a full bar and more outdoor seating. bistrobyronz.com
Hoping for an October opening, The Iron Fork plans to serve a full menu of Southern fare, along with daily lunch specials. The market half of the concept will sell prepared meals, fresh and frozen Cajun meats and pork and chicken cracklins. The restaurant will also have a full service bar. Find it on Facebook
Proverbial Wine Bistro
9654 Antioch Road
City Group Hospitality’s new wine-focused bistro will feature themed grazing boards for lunch, dinner and brunch, shareable appetizers, flatbreads, fresh fish and steaks. In keeping with the name, diners who finish a bottle can write their own proverb on a wine cork and drop it into a glass display. The Long Farm spot, once occupied by Wildwood Pizza, will open in mid-October, says operating partner Stephen Hightower.
Gail’s creator Nick Hufft of Hufft Marchand Hospitality says the artisan ice creamery should open in Baton Rouge by the end of the year, but adds he’s not rushing it. The restaurant group, which runs Overpass Merchant and Curbside in Baton Rouge, and Junior’s on Harrison and Gail’s Fine Ice Cream in New Orleans, recently hired New Orleans pastry chef Rachel Caprera to create a comprehensive pastry program for the brands and to develop a new menu that uses hand-crafted preparation methods for Gail’s. Look for flavors like fresh mint, dark chocolate and lemon berry icebox pie ribboned with blueberry mint puree, lemon curd and almond streusel. gailsfineicecream.com
Juban’s deep fan base was wistful when the restaurant closed temporarily during the pandemic, but now they can look forward to a late 2021 or early 2022 opening with a refreshed design and a new-meets-old menu. Operating partner Making Raving Fans Hospitality Group, led by Peter Sclafani, Kiva Guidroz and Michael Boudreaux, recently announced their hiring of Chef Chris Motto to bring new energy to the Juban’s reboot. Don’t worry, bedrock dishes will still be in place. Find it on Facebook
Look for this City Group Hospitality family-friendly concept to open in late November, Hightower says. The restaurant in the former Bistro Byronz space will feature an approachable, Southern American menu, lots of patio seating and a separate speakeasy with its own entrance. Try a “beer shake” at the bar. Yep, craft beer with ice cream. Find it on Facebook
The opening date for Social Coffee’s first permanent location at Third and North streets has been in flux, but in the meantime, you can sample detailed coffee drinks made with Onyx Coffee in its current location inside Chow Yum Phat, and through regular pop-ups in front of its future downtown digs. socialcoffeebr.com
The cigar shop, liquor store and bar recently revealed a plan to move from its longtime home on Jefferson Highway to Acadian-Perkins Plaza in a space currently occupied by Claitor’s Law Books. The retail part of the business could be open by the end of the year. churchillsbr.com
Owner Chad Hughes has been mum about when his pit barbecue concept in the former Perkins Road Cracker Barrel gas station will open, but the restaurant’s Facebook page revealed a pop-up at Ivar’s in May, and the recent installation of a framed porch and smoker on the building’s north side. Find it on Facebook
The creators of MidTap have dreamed up another self-serve craft brew pub concept that will occupy the western end of the former White Star Market, opposite Bistro Byronz. It will feature 65 rotating craft beers, 65 bourbons and 65 wines. Owner Rick Patel said this week that the opening will likely occur in early 2022, due to delays caused by the pandemic and Hurricane Ida. Find it on Facebook
Entrepreneur Cameron Jackson announced earlier this spring that his Florida Boulevard container park would see additional eateries this summer. The pandemic slowed progress. Moreover, the fourth surge caused a temporary closure of the lone current eatery, Jive Turkey. Jackson says the container park will reopen in the next two months, at which time he anticipates the opening of three additional container concepts: a taco shop, a Cajun eatery and a snoball vendor. The park’s onsite building, which once held a barber shop, will also be converted to a bar, he says. Jackson is planning a second park on the southwest corner of Government and 14th streets, and says he plans to submit permitting for the project by the end of the year. linktr.ee/millennialpark