Denham Springs has changed enough culturally that it will let alcohol flow a little more freely after the opening of its first microbrewery, but officials and residents stress the area won't be open to an influx of bars any time soon.
Le Chien Brewing, to be located on South Hummel Street in Denham Springs, is yet to announce an opening date but it does have in hand a special use permit granted by the Denham Springs City Council on Tuesday night, when it cleared its last permitting hurdle.
Alcohol sales are not new to the city — there are package stores and restaurants that sell alcohol — but the city doesn’t have an ordinance specifically for a bar or brewery. Instead of drafting one that could see an influx of businesses, Mayor Gerard Landry said the residents who were vocal about the issue preferred instead to consider a special use permit to the father-son duo behind Le Chien, Ron and Brett Dunham, because they had sold the city on their vision.
“It’s not necessarily new to the city, we’ve sold alcohol for decades and had restaurants who’ve sold alcohol for quite some time, but we’ve never had what you would consider a freestanding bar,” Landry said. “The perception of a microbrewery for some folks was 'It’s a bar,' and a microbrewery is not a bar. … It’s a whole different atmosphere.”
The Dunhams did not respond to a request for comment, but Ron Dunham described the area as “booming” when he visited the City Council in February to begin talks about how to bring a brewery to the area.
"It's more of a venue than just someone going inside a bar and having a drink," he said at the time.
Landry added in an interview Thursday that Le Chein will be kid- and dog-friendly, and offers a high quality, fairly expensive experience that won’t see its patrons staying out late or getting problematically intoxicated.
“You see them all over the country now from little mom and pop joints that are in a shack on the dilapidated part of town and help revitalize an area to these things that look like Disneyland, so we’re somewhere in the middle,” Landry said.
DENHAM SPRINGS — The city council on Tuesday revived an old debate over fireworks and sparked a new one about allowing beer breweries.
Change came to the traditionally "dry" parish after 2006, when restrictions under ward-based liquor laws were done away with as the parish government changed from a police jury to a parish council.
Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce president April Wehrs said Denham Springs has always been the business hub of the parish and has seen a boom in development in recent years, but with a cultural draw like a microbrewery, it could make the city a destination for outside visitors.
“There’s still some level that this community wants to maintain as far as alcohol goes and alcohol sales, but I think the owners here made a good case,” she said. “They helped to make the distinction between a bar and a microbrewery, and there is a big difference. Every community needs something that is a destination and brings people from outside and this could be that.”
Wehrs said she often hears residents say they would like to see a stronger food and drink scene in the parish, and with an onslaught of national chains dotting strip malls and commercial developments, she said it’s promising to see independent businesses holding their own and diversifying business.
“It’s about what the area can sustain, and it’ll be interesting to see where it all goes in the next few years,” she said.