Freret lands wine bar with Creole vintage _lowres

Advocate photo by John McCusker --Tujague's Restaurant marks its 160th anniversary this year with a series of events, including guest chef dinners.

The proprietor of one of the very oldest New Orleans restaurants has another venture in the works amid one of the city’s bustling new restaurant rows, though don’t expect any old line Creole flavors here.

Mark Latter, owner of Tujague’s Restaurant, is developing a wine bar and eatery on Freret Street along with business partner P.J. Rosenberg, a longtime local wine professional.

Bar Frances is slated to open next spring at 4525 Freret St., and construction is now underway. It will be part of a larger development of retail space and condominiums taking shape along the block that once housed the old Frank’s Steakhouse.

“We live nearby and you can’t miss how that area is just booming,” said Latter. “There’s great opportunity here.”

Bar Frances is aiming for a niche a little more upscale than the many neighborhood restaurants along Freret Street, Latter said, though it will still be casual. The bar will serve a long list of wines by the glass and bottle, along with beer and classic cocktails. While Latter hasn’t yet named the chef, he said the Bar Frances menu would center on dishes like crudo, salads and other lighter flavors.

“We’re not going for anything like Tujague’s,” he said. “We want it to be a place where you can come in, get a nice glass of wine and something lighter. We think there’s an opportunity for that on Freret.”

Rosenberg said Bar Frances would combine his background in wine with Latter’s restaurant experience. It is named for Rosenberg’s grandmother, and he said it is intended to honor the fundamentals of hospitality he learned from his family. Rosenberg has worked in the local wine business for most of his career, spending years as manager with Martin Wine Cellar, with the distributor Uncorked and as a consultant.

Latter and his wife Candace had intended to enter the wine business themselves when fate and a family tragedy sidelined these plans. Mark’s father Steven Latter was the longtime owner of Tujague’s, the city’s second oldest restaurant, dating to 1856. When Steven died unexpectedly in 2013, the future of the French Quarter culinary landmark was thrown into question in the face of a thorny succession. But Mark Latter was able to reopen the restaurant later that year, after a gentle modernization of the menu and some renovations around its dining rooms.

In 2014, he and Candace rekindled their wine aspirations by opening the Garden District wine shop Bin 428 (2801 Magazine St., 504-268-6200). Rosenberg joined them as a partner in Bin 428 earlier this year.

Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Candace Latter as an owner of Bar Frances.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.