One New Orleans hospitality company behind a wide array of restaurants and bars is expanding again, with two new projects announced today in different parts of town.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts is buying the Old Metairie property that has long been home to Barreca's Restaurant. The company has also purchased the Warehouse District building that was most recently the Warehouse Grille. Each will be redeveloped, though plans for their concepts are still underway and in different stages.
Barreca's property will open as casual neighborhood restaurant with an emphasis on seafood and Italian flavors and weekend brunch service, said Marv Ammari, CEO of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.
“It’s got to be family-friendly considering the neighborhood,” he said. “I think we’ll have to go back to old school here.”
That would fit its history. The property, at 3100 Metairie Road near Causeway Boulevard, has been a restaurant since 1948, when it was first called Ovella’s.
Barreca’s got its start here in 1988 as a Creole-Italian eatery, with a menu mixing trout meuniere and shrimp Creole with lasagna and chicken parmesan. It was known for its early-bird dinner bargains and a similar Sunday brunch special that made it a popular after-church destination for families. Barreca’s did not return to regular restaurant service after Hurricane Katrina, instead operating as an event and catering space.
David Barreca, longtime proprietor his family’s restaurant, will work with Ammari’s company as a consultant.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Ammari. “It means bringing in someone who knows the neighborhood so well.”
Ammari said his company plans to redevelop the restaurant and adjacent properties, which are included in the acquisition deal.
A patio in the Warehouse District
Plans for the second new addition the company announced today for Warehouse Grille are also still taking shape. Ammari said the aim is to reopen it as a casual spot that should appeal first to people who live and work in the Warehouse District and also be a draw for visitors in the area, noting that the National World War II Museum is a block away. Warehouse Grille closed last week.
The property, at 869 Magazine St., has been a number of tavern-style concepts over the years. It’s a large building, with about 7,000 square feet inside and a similar amount of space in the patio. Before Katrina, when the property was a downtown hot spot called Polynesian Joe's, this outdoor area was a sandy lot used for multiple beach volleyball courts.
News of the two purchases follows a drumbeat of growth from Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, which for the past few years has been taking over older restaurants and developing its own new projects, from daiquiri bars and cafes to high-end restaurants and event facilities.
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“As a company, we see that there are just these great opportunities out there,” said Ammari. “Sometimes we work on these for months, some for years. When it’s right, you just have to grab them.”
In July, his company bought Tommy’s Cuisine, the attached Tommy’s Wine Bar and Tomas Bistro, three interrelated properties on the same downtown block of Tchoupitoulas Street. As in the case of Barreca’s, Tommy’s proprietor Tommy Andrade is working with the company now to oversee the restaurants he founded.
Earlier this month, nola.com reported that Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts had taken over the former home of Salu Bistro and Bar, at 3226 Magazine St., with plans to open a second edition of its Bourbon Street eatery Bayou Burger here later this year.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts got its start in 1989 and grew to operate a string of daiquiri shops around the French Quarter under the Big Easy Daiquiris brand. It later expanded to full-service restaurants and has been growing rapidly in the past few years.