Beer garden developers rally support at town hall meeting

Located at 3808 Government St., the proposed beer garden will offer Capital Heights residents and Mid City regulars a new location for open-air drinking and dining. Rendering courtesy of The Architectural Studio

At the corner of Government Street and Steele Boulevard, three developers hope to transform a vacant property into an open-air beer garden, complete with game-day viewings and plenty of room for visitors to chill with food and brews.

So, how soon can you watch an LSU game with fresh air and a frosty glass at the Capital Heights beer garden? That depends on rezoning, which developers discussed at a town hall meeting Monday, Aug. 31.

Locals and Mid City residents filled Grace Mid City Baptist Church to talk neighborhood concerns, Mid City’s revival and the logistics of the proposed bar. The meeting was a quick trip by foot or bike for most, something Radio Bar co-owner and beer garden developer Brian Baiamonte says reflects the community’s leaning toward the future.

“The majority of the people there actually walked or rode their bikes, which was really cool. It kind of showed that they’re in favor of that walk-able, bike-able community that Baton Rouge is pushing for Government Street,” Baiamonte says.

Baiamonte and his beer garden co-owners, Radio Bar manager Kelli Paxton and Chelsea’s Café and Radio Bar co-owner Dave Remmetter, are no strangers to navigating the development of an alcohol-friendly business in a quiet neighborhood. In 2010, Remmetter and Baiamonte met with community members and secured rezoning to open Radio Bar, a fixture many feel has brought new life to Ogden Park.

Monday’s meeting took aim at concerns of community impact from the beer garden, with developers and the district’s Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle on hand to answer questions. Locals needed little convincing, though, and response was overwhelmingly positive for the neighborhood revitalization project.

“No one seemed to have anything that was really stressing them out as super urgent,” Baiamonte says, “but we still had people asking about the sound barriers that we’re building and what type of speakers we’re using to reduce any sound spill into the neighborhood.”

The developers’ plan to avoid noise spill includes a 10- to 12-foot masonry wall surrounded by plant life, a 60-foot parking barrier, and an additional 8-foot fence to reinforce the natural wall of trees and plants around the area. Baiamonte feels confident these measures—plus a sophisticated speaker system—will prevent any noise problems.

Moving forward, Baiamonte and his co-owners are optimistic about the beer garden’s relationship with the community but uncertain of the rezoning verdict. The city-parish Planning Commission will vote Sept. 21 on rezoning the area for alcohol sales.

“I feel as good as I can,” Baiamonte says. “You never really know how the Metro Council or the [commission] is going to rule, but as far as the neighborhood, I feel like we do have the support of the neighborhood.”