Now open: Uncle Ben's Coffee 

If you love Vietnamese coffee, then you'll want to try Uncle Ben's Coffee. The new shop opened in mid-November at 7132 Florida Blvd., Suite A.

The store offers Vietnamese iced and hot coffee drinks, as well as cold brew and fresh brewed coffee.

Ben Nguyen, a managing partner in Uncle Ben's, said the menu will expand soon to feature specialty drinks and herbal teas. Local baked goods are also being considered as menu additions in the future.

Nguyen has worked in the tech industry for the past eight years, and coffee is his fuel. At the same time, coffee has been his passion since he was a child.

Another reason for opening was the prime location. Nguyen said there is no coffee shop in the area, which features businesses such as Louisiana Technology Park, Cox Communications and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

For those who haven't tried Vietnamese coffee, the drink is a blend of sweet cream and strong coffee. The right cup isn't too bitter or sweet.

"It's like a dessert," Nguyen said, mentioning what his customers have said in reviews. "The difference is in the taste and blend of ingredients. Really, I tell people that they just have to try it."

Uncle Ben's Coffee is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit unclebenscoffee.com.


Noble Wave not coming to Baton Rouge after all 

A highly anticipated, innovative microbrewery and restaurant will not open in Baton Rouge.

Noble Wave's owners and founders announced Monday night in a news release that the startup craft brewery and restaurant is "no longer seeking to open a Louisiana-based location."

"Instead, the majority of the Noble Wave team is relocating to Salem, Oregon, where the company plans to launch its first location," according to the release.

Noble Wave was set to open in fall 2018 in the Electric Depot, a mixed-use development site on Government Street. In addition to small batches of seasonal and experimental beers, Noble Wave was going to offer New York-style pizza by the slice, an outdoor patio and retro-futuristic decor.

The business model also was different — the brewpub would be consciously capitalist. The staff would be offered a full salary and benefits, and half of all tips would be dedicated to a companion nonprofit.

Why didn't this work in Baton Rouge?

"Louisiana's uncompetitive legal and regulatory landscape for craft breweries," the release said. "Louisiana's laws do not allow brewpubs to distribute beer to other retailers."

Noble Wave CEO Riley Vannoy said the move to Oregon is tough, but it's out of necessity.

"This was not a decision that was made lightly," Vannoy said. "Both (CFO) Karl (Schultz) and I are local guys. We were born and raised in Baton Rouge. It's much simpler (to open a brewpub) in a lot of other places, much less restrictive."

Schultz also said state regulations didn't help Noble Wave's business model.

"We were not going to be well-served by opening in a place, like Louisiana, that forces us to forgo significant revenue options that would be available to us in other states," Schultz said.

Though Schultz and Vannoy were optimistic about the venture at first, laws surrounding craft beer and brewpub distribution and other "recent regulatory changes" have put a bitter taste in their mouths.

"There was also a lot of optimism (when we first started), and even some signs of progress," Vannoy said. "But that's all changed for the worse with the recent regulatory changes, and we couldn't ignore the implications to our potential success.

The atmosphere here, it's a bit pessimistic these days."

The reasoning for moving to Salem, Oregon, is simple: The news release stated that the city boasts a "best-in-class regulatory environment" and "unsaturated existing craft beer market."

For more information on Noble Wave, visit enjoynoblewave.com.


Nando's moving to Denham Springs; new BR location planned for 2018 

A Mexican restaurant with Baton Rouge roots moved into Denham Springs this week, but has plans for another Capital City location to open in 2018.

Nando's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina has moved from 13866 Coursey Blvd. in Baton Rouge to 141 Aspen Square in Denham Springs. The Denham Springs location opened Thursday.

However, the restaurant said in a Facebook post that it will open another location in early 2018 off Siegen Lane, at 7655 Andrea Drive.

Nando's opened in May 2016. The concept comes from two longtime restaurateurs, Hernando J. Cuellar and Louis DeAngelo. Cuellar opened Ninfa's on Constitution Avenue in Baton Rouge and ran the restaurant for more than two decades.

Nando's offers Tex-Mex dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, grill platters and carne asada dinner combos. For more information, visit nandosmexicanrestaurant.com.


Rally Cap Brewing Co. eyeing summer 2018 opening 

A sports-themed, hop-centric brewery and taproom is coming to Baton Rouge next summer.

Rally Cap Brewing Co. has secured a lease and will begin renovation of property at 11212 Pennywood Ave. The 9,400-square-foot facility in the Industriplex area will house Rally Cap's production brewery and taproom.

Construction will begin this winter. A target opening date is summer 2018, according to founder Kevin Whalen.

The brewery will feature a 15-barrel brewing system, designed to accommodate future growth, as well as a 2,000-square-foot taproom with an outdoor patio and a number of flat-screen TVs for guests to enjoy games while drinking a beer.

Whalen returned to Baton Rouge this year after working with Pinnacle Entertainment in San Antonio. Before moving there, Whalen worked with L'Auberge Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel, as a director of special projects then vice president of casino operations.

"In San Antonio and Austin, there are breweries popping up every couple of weeks," Whalen said. "I wanted to move back here because it's really about the people I met here. Baton Rouge became the one place I felt was like home."

Though Rally Cap will be "hop-centric" and feature IPAs, Whalen said he doesn't want to pigeonhole what types of beers they'll serve.

"We like beer with hops," he said. "However, our goal is to start with seven or eight beers. I'm thinking two IPAS, two pale ales. We'll have a selection. We're also working on a chocolate porter."

For more information, visit rallycapbrewingblog.com or facebook.com/rallycapbrewing.

Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.