The Freret Street building that until recently housed the landmark Friar Tuck’s bar was bought this week by a group of investors who are now searching for a new tenant for the property.
Ben Jacobson, who lives only a few blocks from the building, said he and his partners closed the sale on Monday and are now exploring possible tenants for the building. The building has a substantial kitchen area (though very little equipment), and their initial idea was for an upscale restaurant with outdoor dining on a new, wraparound porch, Jacobson said, but they have not made any commitments.
“What it won’t be is definitely not a college bar, or anything like Tucks was,” Jacobson said.
The investors will not make any decisions about renovations until they find a tenant, Jacobson said, but the building is basically sound and does not appear to need major structural work.
Kellie Grengs of the Freret Business and Property Owners Association met with Jacobson on Tuesday, and said there is wide enthusiasm along the Freret corridor for a restaurant in the building.
“The neighborhood is telling them clearly, a restaurant would be their best bet,” Grengs said.
Grengs said she receives email inquiries at least once a week from people looking for business opportunities on Freret, and that she forwarded a stack of recent ones to Jacobson. Jacobson said he hopes his project will be in line with some of the other eagerly-anticipated additions to the street, including the Company Burger, High Hat Cafe (a soul-food and family dining restaurant) and Ancora Pizzeria & Salumeria.
“It’s a street we’ve been following for a while,” Jacobson said. “It’s a place we see a lot of potential in, and we want to be a part of reinventing Freret Street.”
The recently-opened Dat Dog brings larger-than-anticipated crowds of pedestrians down Freret every evening, which contributes to an increasing feeling of security on the corridor, Grengs said.
Indeed, despite the fact that the closing of Friar Tucks and the building’s sale were precipitated by a fatal shooting at the bar, the negative image of Freret as unsafe is quickly falling away, Jacobson agreed.
“Our vision is to build as big an outdoor deck on the front of the building as possible,” Jacobson said. “When more people are around, you just feel a lot safer.”