The surf is up for Lucy‘s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, and this particular swell will land the New Orleans-based beach bar in the Caribbean and Central America.
The parent company of the well-known watering hole and restaurant in the Warehouse District is expanding in Costa Rica and Aruba.
The Costa Rica location is slated to open Friday, Dec. 15, in Playa Brasilito, a beach town on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. The Aruba restaurant is expected to open in February in that island’s capital of Oranjestad.
It’s the latest in a series of big changes for a homegrown New Orleans name that has a new owner with big ambitions for the Lucy's brand.
The restaurant has since 2016 been operated by Kirkendoll Management, a local company that got its start in strip clubs and has more recently developed a restaurant division. In a press release, company founder John Kirkendoll explained the Lucy’s expansion overseas as part of a strategy “to diversify from the over saturated, ultra-competitive U.S. market to international locations where Lucy’s brand will resonate with customers.”
At least one more location in the Caribbean is slated to open in 2018, and a representative of Kirkendoll Management said the company's aim is to make Lucy's "an internationally-recognized brand."
That brand's origins were more modest. Lucy’s was one of the touchstones of the Warehouse District when the once-gritty neighborhood was changing into a hub of apartments and condos, restaurants and bars. Lucy’s history goes back to New York, where the original version opened in 1985. When its founders moved to New Orleans, they brought Lucy’s with them and opened at 701 Tchoupitoulas St. in 1992.
Known for its beach shack theme and for tropical drinks as colorful as a corral reef, this local Lucy's has long drawn a clientele of downtown denizens, visiting conventioneers, post-shift waiters from other restaurants and, on game days, throngs of Saints fans.
The restaurant has tried earlier expansions, though locations in Austin, Texas and Baton Rouge subsequently closed.
The New Orleans location seemed in peril recently as disputes between the founders and their business partners led to a brief name change. By March 2016, however, Kirkendoll bought into the business and by the summer completed a major overhaul of the property.
Last year, Kirkendoll opened a new Lucy’s in Key West. The same parent company runs a French bistro concept called Bonhomie in Austin.
701 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-523-8995
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