As the city’s gigantic new hospital complexes inch visibly closer to completion, more hospitality businesses are cropping up nearby, and along the way bringing some much-needed amenities around the hub of Tulane Avenue and Broad Street.
The latest is the Big Cheezy (422 S. Broad St., 504-302-2598; thebigcheezy.com), which opened this month in the former home of Liberty’s Kitchen, the nonprofit café now located a mile away at the ReFresh Project.
The Big Cheezy menu is built around grilled cheese sandwiches. That might sound kind of “anywhere-USA,” but the flavors take a local bent, with roast beef debris, alligator and crawfish sausage and olive salad among the fillings. Then there’s the crossover potential of the chicken and sausage gumbo as dipping sauce, alongside the tomato-basil soup.
“Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together, but about half the people I know dunk their sandwiches in gumbo, so we decided to go that way, too,” said Josh Fogarty, one of the partners behind the Big Cheezy.
They’re also converting beignets into dessert grilled cheeses — sliced and griddled and stuffed with mascarpone, chocolate and strawberries, for one example — and Fogarty hints at the potential addition of grilled cheese donuts, too. Most of all, though, he and his partners are excited for the future of the area they’re now serving.
“The business is already here and people are coming into the neighborhood,” he said. “It feels like it’s at the tipping point.”
Grilled cheese will be a big part of the menu of another eatery in the works nearby, which will also have a broader menu and a bar. Miles Tully and Casey Biehl, managers at the local game room/tavern concept Barcadia, plan to open Melt by early fall at 2549 Banks St. (John Georges, publisher of the Advocate, is an owner of the building they’re leasing).
And around the corner at 611 S. White St., local service industry veteran Keith Magruder plans to open a lounge called SideBar this summer with craft cocktails, wine and local beers. While SideBar won’t have a kitchen, it may serve cheese and charcuterie plates in a setting that Magruder describes “a judge’s chambers look.” It is, after all, in the shadow of the criminal courthouse.
The Big Cheezy serves lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.