Nonetheless, co-owner Scott Paddock says the bar will open eventually. Not only has he continued paying rent on the Government Street building that will house the bar, but he’s also recently leased two lots behind the building, where he now plans to develop a dog park.
“We’re making progress,” Paddock says. “Some changes have been made, but it’s not ready by any stretch. It’s not any one person’s fault.”
The initial holdup, according to Paddock, was that the owners’ project scope changed, causing some delays. Then, some inaccurate assumptions were made by the original contractor, slowing up the approval process.
But the major pause happened when COVID-19 hit. The four business partners behind Pelican to Mars—Paddock, his brother Lance Paddock, Lance’s wife, Robin, and Remi deMatteo—already own Hayride Scandal in Baton Rouge and another bar in New Orleans, both of which were financially devastated during the pandemic, and shifted gears to tend to those businesses.
At the same time, several other potential investors from the hospitality and entertainment industry dropped their plans to invest in Pelican to Mars when their existing establishments took a hit.
“Everyone was just trying to keep their doors open,” Paddock says. “We’re doing it all by ourselves at this juncture.”
In the meantime, Paddock is pouring concrete on the property. He has also acquired a tap wall and a tall walk-in cooler, and air conditioning is currently being installed.
However, there are many missing pieces that Paddock expects will take a while to complete, declining to give a timeframe because “lots of variables remain uncertain.”
One of those variables is related to the equipment the bar needs. Paddock has delayed ordering most equipment because there is currently no storage space for it, with construction ongoing. He worries, though, about how long it will take for certain items to be delivered given the shortages of various materials.
Licensing is another issue. While Pelican to Mars has been approved for an alcohol permit, it still needs a license for alcohol consumption and an occupancy license, which will tack on more time.
“It’s one of those things where you can’t do ‘D’ on your list until ‘C’ is finished,” Paddock says. “We’ve had some learning curves.”