All across town, small houses and modest storefronts have been converted into restaurant spaces to feed the ongoing eatery boom. Now, one of the bigger restaurant venues in town is up for conversion.
Ralph & Kacoo’s, the seafood restaurant that started near New Roads in 1969 before growing into a chain, closed the doors of its French Quarter location at 519 Toulouse St. late last year. Its parent company, Great Texas Foods, still has locations in Baton Rouge, Bossier City and Lufkin, Texas, (a new one is in the works near Mobile, Alabama). But the move marked the end of a more than 40-year-run for the Ralph & Kacoo’s brand in New Orleans.
Its former home, a vintage warehouse, is now being turned into condos by Earl Weber, the local developer behind Jax Brewery and other projects. Weber said he’s in negotiations with two potential restaurant operators for the ground floor space, and though he wouldn’t identify them he said each is a high-end brand. He expects to have one confirmed in the weeks ahead.
The building’s restaurant space covers 12,000 square feet, and in the Ralph & Kacoo’s configuration it was advertised for up to 700 people at banquets and events. The new restaurant may not use all that space, but whatever is going in looks to be big.
Meanwhile, the forthcoming Italian restaurant Altamura is only taking over a once-blighted cottage at 5119 Magazine St. But Jack Petronella said he’s fielded so many inquiries about plans for it that he and business partner Coleman Jernigan decided to start a dinner series at their Uptown bakery and café ManhattanJack at 4930 Prytania St. as an ongoing pop-up preview.
Starting this Thursday (Jan. 22) and continuing each Thursday through the end of February, they’ll serve a dinner drawn from their draft menu. This is based on Italian dishes more of the style you’d find around the Northeast than from the local subgenre of Creole Italian cuisine.
Altamura’s menu will be a la carte, though for the pop-up guests pick from a choice of two appetizers, two pastas, two entrees and dessert. Wine pairings are included and reservations and advance payment ($75 plus tax and tip) are required. Call (504) 897-5551. Petronella expects Altmura to open around June.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.