Lakeview's commercial corridor along Harrison Avenue is also the neighborhood's restaurant row, and recently there has been change in the air. Below is a look at what's ahead for two casual spots here.
Lakeview Harbor on the move
Last Saturday night, Benny Grunch and the Brunch performed at a “bon voyage pawty” for Lakeview Harbor.
But don’t go adding the longtime neighborhood burger spot to Grunch’s “Ain’t Dere No More” song about lost local institutions.
The last day for Lakeview Harbor at its 911 Harrison Ave. home was Wednesday. But proprietor Shawn Toups says it only signals an upcoming move, not a permanent closing.
He is still trying to nail down Lakeview Harbor’s next location, however, so there will be an interval when the restaurant is out of commission. Toups hopes it will be short.
“We’re definitely going to reopen,” said Toups. “We have a great staff, probably the best staff I’ve ever had here in 25 years in business. I want do right by them and keep that together.”
The move has been a long time coming. In July, Toups announced that the restaurant’s landlord would not renew its lease, setting up Jan. 31 as its last day here.
The brothers Blake and Brandon Bennett plan to develop a new eatery at the address. It will have a focus on burgers in the kitchen and wine at the bar. The new restaurant, which is yet to be named, is slated to open by early summer. The Bennetts run the upscale/casual Andy’s Bistro in Metairie, which combines steakhouse standards with a menu of seafood, flatbreads and burgers.
While Toups is adamant that Lakeview Harbor will not be saying goodbye, this weekend’s events do add up to a last hurrah for this location, long a fixture in this tight-knit neighborhood.
Some still remember the Harrison Avenue address as the home of the Velvet Swing, a bar of 1960s vintage that inspires warm if sometimes fuzzy memories.
Toups’ brother, the late Tony Henderson, turned the location into Lakeview Harbor in 1993, opening it with Mark Schenck. Through the years, the kitchen’s calling card has always been a thick burger of house-ground beef under a yellow flurry of grated cheddar. Comparisons to the style of the much-older Port of Call are not coincidental. Henderson was a manager at that French Quarter burger destination before opening his own place.
Toups himself started working at Lakeview Harbor the year it opened, while he was still in high school. By 1997, he became a partner in the restaurant. Last year, he became sole proprietor after Schenck sold his share in the business.
After 25 years, he knows the restaurant has a strong following and he’s confident that will continue in a new location.
Memories of "the Moon" at an upcoming deli
There’s a new plan underway to turn the former home of the Lakeview po-boy shop Koz’s into an upscale deli.
This new eatery at 515 Harrison Ave. does not yet have a name, but the people behind it are well-known in the business. Scot Craig operates the popular Katie‘s Restaurant & Bar in Mid-City, and he’s developing this new Lakeview deli with his wife Stephanie.
They expect to open in the spring following a round of renovations.
Some specialty dishes from Katie‘s will be on the menu here (like "the legend" po-boy, which mixes BBQ shrimp and cochon de lait). But Craig emphasized that this new eatery would not be a second Katie’s.
In fact, in some ways the new plan here goes back to a previous restaurant at this Harrison Avenue address.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the building was home to Charlie’s Delicatessen. Craig believes the neighborhood is ripe for a similar concept today.
There will even be some throwback sandwiches on the menu, starting with a tribute to the Moon, an old Charlie’s signature that loaded ham, roast beef, provolone, Swiss, coleslaw and Russian dressing on a whole muffuletta loaf.
“I remember the Moon like it was yesterday,” said Craig, who put away plenty of them back in the day.
While Scot Craig is New Orleans native, Stephanie Craig hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and in particular the Hill, that city’s historic Italian neighborhood. This background will be strongly in evidence at their new restaurant, which will have elements of a classic Italian deli next to local flavors.
“She inspired me to do this,” said Scot Craig. “It’s our first business together and we’re really excited about what we can bring to this neighborhood.”
Craig has run Katie’s for nearly 25 years. He bought the backstreet eatery in 1993 from the Leininger family and has progressively developed it into a neighborhood standby. Though it took a while to reopen after Katrina, Katie’s came into its own in the years since, developing an original menu and a specialty in pizza (including some pies with Provel cheese, a St. Louis obsession and another influence from Stephanie Craig’s side of the family).
As plans shape up for the new deli, Scot Craig said he envisions it being primarily takeout, with some seating in the shop. He’s applying for a license to serve beer and wine.
Koz’s closed in January after a nine-year run on Harrison Avenue. The original location of Koz’s remains open in Harahan (6215 Wilson Ave., 504-737-3933).