Where the news of the day once spilled across newsprint, a new bar and eatery will soon pour beers and serve a spread of comfort food.
The Picayune Social House is now taking shape in the historic CBD building that was once home to the Times-Picayune.
It is part of a new apartment development under construction within the four-story commercial buildings at 326 and 330 Camp Street. These buildings are now co-joined, and the Picayune Social House extends across the entire combined first floor. It is slated to open in November.
“It will be similar to a gastropub, more like a place to kick back downtown than a high-energy bar,” said Chris DeMers, who is developing the Picayune Social House. "We want to be an amenity to the people who live above us and live and work around us.”
A four-sided bar is the centerpiece of the plan, with a full kitchen in back. The menu will revolve around familiar dishes, to the tune of sandwiches, flatbreads and salads, but with some different twists on the standards. For instance, the kitchen will be equipped with a tandoor oven. Expect naan breads and other staples from Indian cooking in the mix.
For DeMers, the "social house" concept means a place that feels right for casual visits and down time. That starts with a straightforward approach to drinks, rather than high-concept cocktails. The room will have a mix of long tables for groups alongside two-top and four-top tables.
The history of the building will be reflected in the décor, with old New Orleans headlines from newspapers past on the walls and details following a typeset motif worked across the room.
The building at 326 Camp St. became the home of The Daily Picayune newspaper in 1850, during the era when this stretch of the CBD was known as “Newspaper Row” for its cluster of publishing businesses. The Picayune later merged with its rival, The Times-Democrat, to create the Times-Picayune. The address was most recently home to Ed Smith's Stencil Works, which is now in Mid-City.
A Howard Avenue landmark that housed The Times-Picayune's operations and its printing presse…
The newspaper’s headquarters were moved to Lafayette Square from 1929 to 1968, until relocating to a more modern facility on Howard Avenue. That building, now empty, was recently purchased by developers.
DeMers is a New Orleans native and lifer in the bar and restaurant business. For the last decade he’s been in Dallas, where he consults for the hospitality sector, and he runs the Lake Charles bar and grill 171 Junction Roadhouse.
When the Picayune Social House idea arose, he decided to move back home.
“It’s what lured me back,” he said. “There’s so much happening in New Orleans now, and there’s a lot of new energy in the CBD. It’s where the French Quarter and what’s happening in the Warehouse District come together.”
Picayune Social House
326 Camp St., projected opening November 2016.