Business Report‘s January cover story is all about what’s on the horizon in 2020 for Baton Rouge. And when it comes to the restaurant scene, 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.