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Brad Watts, who co-owns The River Room bar with Chad Hughes, discussed plans with the Downtown Development Commission for opening The Bengal Taproom; Cecilia, a Creole restaurant; and an upscale event space in downtown Baton Rouge.

The owners of several local bars and restaurants are taking over the lease on a building at the corner of Third and Laurel streets in downtown Baton Rouge to open a sports bar, Creole restaurant and event space within the next two months.

Brad Watts told Downtown Development District commissioners Tuesday that The Bengal Taproom, Cecilia and the upscale event space will all be open by February.

“We’re excited and exhausted, but we’re looking forward to it,” said Watts, who co-owns The River Room and Kalurah Street Grill along with Chad Hughes. Hughes is also one of the owners of Ivar's Sports Bar. 

It's a challenge to find a place downtown to watch sports, Watts said. And with the closure of the Camelot Club a few years ago, there's a need for more event space. 

The Bengal Taproom will go into the space that had been occupied by The Draft House, which closed in October. Plans are to open the bar in the next couple of weeks. Watts said it will be an authentic sports bar, with up to 19 TVs, 40 beers on tap and a menu with staples such as hamburgers, chicken wings and cheese fries.

The food for The Bengal Taproom will come out of the kitchen of the old Restaurant IPO, which closed in August 2016. That space will reopen at the end of January or early February as Cecilia.

Cecelia will offer authentic Creole dishes, such as gumbo. The restaurant is named after Hughes’ grandmother. Chef Kelley McCann, who oversees the kitchen at Kalurah Street Grill, is the executive chef.

Watts joked when he hired McCann to run the kitchen at Kalurah Street he told him “no gumbo and no bread pudding” on the menu. For Cecilia, the opposite applied. "We want traditional Creole dishes," he said. 

The final business will be an “upscale event space” that will go in where the old Office bar was and should be open by early January. It will have room for corporate events, receptions and rehearsal dinners.

The plan is to keep the bar and restaurant open seven days a week, including lunch.  

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.