Plans for a new restaurant are taking shape in a one-time fixture of Old Metairie that has been out of regular circulation since Hurricane Katrina.

The former home of Barreca's restaurant will reopen this spring, with a target date around the middle of March, said Marv Ammari, the CEO of his family’s Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.

A name for this new restaurant is still in the works, but Ammari said it would be an upscale/casual seafood restaurant with a Creole-Italian accent.

“We think there’s a need there, seafood with Creole-Italian, that’s something people in New Orleans can eat every day,” said Ammari.

Ammari company operates restaurants, bars and event spaces across town. It has acquired a long roster of older local restaurants. The former Barreca’s was a noteworthy addition to its portfolio when the company first bought the property in 2016 and it’s been a question mark in this neighborhood since as more restaurant development revs up around it.

The property, at 3100 Metairie Road near Causeway Boulevard, has been a restaurant since 1948, when it was first called Ovella’s.

Barreca’s got its start there in 1988 as a Creole-Italian eatery, with a menu mixing trout meuniere and shrimp Creole with lasagna and chicken parmesan. It was known for its early-bird dinner bargains and a similar Sunday brunch special that made it a popular after-church destination for families.

Barreca’s did not return to regular restaurant service after Hurricane Katrina, instead operating as an event and catering space.

David Barreca, the old restaurant’s proprietor, now works with Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, contributing to this and other projects.

The former Barreca’s property is now being remodeled. The new restaurant will cover about 5,500 square feet with about 160 seats. It will also have a much-expanded parking lot after some adjacent buildings are removed.

Initially, the company intended to build a second location of its Royal House Oyster Bar here, though the plan has been revised and the name has yet to be confirmed.

It will be run by a team of managers from the company’s upscale dining division, including Jorge Henriquez, the division’s chief operating officer; Robert Hardie, its district manager (and the longtime manager of the former Houston’s in Metairie, which is now the company’s Boulevard American Bistro); Steven Marsella, the division’s culinary director; and Dwyer McComsey, the division’s area director.

The Barreca’s project continues a drumbeat of restaurant development for Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts. New additions to the company in 2017 alone ranged from the French Quarter bistro Curio to the casual eatery Mason Jar in Metairie to the sprawling patio bar and restaurant Flamingo A-Go-Go in the Warehouse District.

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Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.

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