Last year, Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar opened in the former Le Chat Noir, converting the dormant cabaret space in downtown New Orleans into a large, Sicilian-style restaurant with a unique wine program. Now, proprietors Gene Todaro Sr. and Gene Todaro Jr. have a second act planned for on a bigger stage.
By early 2016, they intend to open a new Marcello’s in Metairie in the former home of Coyote Blues, at 4860 Veterans Blvd. To redevelop it, they’ve started a new partnership with Kevin Moody, a member of the family that runs the Lafayette-based Coyote Blues cantina chain.
“We’ve been looking at different expansion opportunities because we think our concept can translate well at other locations,” said Gene Todaro Jr. “It’s been tough to find a place large enough to accommodate what we do, so that’s why this partnership makes a lot of sense.”
The Metairie address of Coyote Blues is significantly larger than the downtown Marcello’s. Todaro said the new restaurant here would be styled after a Tuscan villa with outdoor seating and a dedicated bar area.
It would also have room for Marcello’s approach to wine, which falls somewhere between a wine shop and a wine bar. Bottles are arrayed across the main dining room on retail style racks, holding some 500 labels, and customers make their own selections during dinner, while the wait staff handles the wine from there. It’s a semi-self-serve approach, and it comes with a price mark-up closer to a corkage fee than the restaurant standard.
Coyote Blues, meanwhile, is revamping some of its restaurants for a more casual service format that calls for smaller square footage. The Moody family, which runs the Moody Co., have operated many restaurants and other businesses in the area. It was not immediately clear if they would open a Coyote Blues at another Metairie address. The brand has restaurants in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Jackson, Tennessee.
Wine in Metairie, more events downtown
The Metairie location lies along a stretch of Veterans Boulevard that has seen much commercial redevelopment lately, though many of the new restaurants to arrive have been national chains. Todaro thinks Marcello’s concept, combining upscale Sicilian cuisine with a more laidback approach to wine, will fill a niche.
“There are a lot of people in Metairie who enjoy dining and wine and will do that closer to home if something like this is available,” he said.
Todaro hails from a branch of a New Orleans family that moved to Lafayette in the 1970s, where they eventually opened three Marcello’s restaurants. They converted these to wine shops in the 1980s, but a few years back they began reviving the restaurant end of the family business, with new restaurants in Lafayette and New Orleans.
Just around the corner from their downtown restaurant, the Todaros also have a second concept underway. Earlier this year they bought the former Indulge Island Grill, at 845 Carondelet St. That business combined a bar and grill with a pool club, fitness club and meeting space. It closed last year.
Now called Carondelet, the Todaros use it host private parties they couldn’t accommodate at Marcello’s, and which now can include access to a pool. Wine dinners and other events are in the works here and, noting a wave of development unfolding in this part of downtown, Todaro said he may convert the space into another restaurant concept in the future.
Meanwhile, the Metairie rendition of Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar is slated to open in January.
715 St. Charles Ave., 504-581-6333
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.