The owners of French Market Bistro are planning to expand the popular Highland Road restaurant by moving into a vacant adjoining space.

The restaurant is looking at moving into the 1,850-square-foot space that formerly had been occupied by Via Consignment Interiors. Plans for the expansion have been submitted to the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission, which is set to vote on the matter at its Sept. 15 meeting. If all goes well, the expansion would open in early 2015, before Valentine’s Day, co-owner Justin McDonald said.

McDonald said after being in business at 16645 Highland Road for 18 years, it’s time for French Market Bistro to expand.

“We love our location and our guests, and we have an opportunity to grow where we are,” he said.

Although the restaurant would take over the adjoining space, the plans don’t call to greatly increase the size of French Market Bistro. The restaurant has seating for 125 people, and although McDonald is still meeting with architects to determine the final layout of the new space, he doesn’t plan to expand the seating beyond 145 diners.

“We don’t want to have to turn down a party,” he said.

Instead, the expansion will allow French Market Bistro to expand its bar area by moving it into the adjoining space. This will allow French Market Bistro to start selling charbroiled oysters, like the ones its sister restaurant Mansurs on the Boulevard are acclaimed for. The restaurant will enclose its wine selection in a glassed, climate-controlled room at the front of the new space.

The banquet area and restrooms also will be expanded.

McDonald said the French Market Bistro will spend “a couple of hundred thousand” on the expansion. “It will be a nice face lift,” he said.

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