The back end of the former WOW Wingery restaurant at State and Magazine has been removed and its interior completely gutted, but when Reginelli’s moves across the street this fall, the building’s exterior will be restored to its original appearance of a traditional New Orleans corner grocery, the owner said Monday morning.
“We’re trying to bring it back to the traditional old-style corner grocery,” said Darryl Reginelli. “It’s really going to go back to what it was originally.”
Reginelli had originally hoped to expand the kitchen at his restaurant’s current Uptown location, but wasn’t keen on closing down to perform the renovations, he said. When the WOW building came up for sale in early 2011, Reginelli bought it instead, planning to move across the street.
But, when the WOW restaurant closed at the end of the year and he began preparing for renovations, Reginelli found structural damage too extensive to repair.
“When we started to demolish the interior it just all collapsed,” Reginelli said. “The termite damage was overwhelming over the years. … It was just beyond repair.”
The bar area and the video poker machines are being removed, and the building will be rebuilt in its original shape, without increasing the square footage, Reginelli said. The parking lot will have the same number of spaces, but will be repaved and reconfigured for easier access.
The exterior, however, will be restored to include many of the features of traditional corner businesses, Reginelli said: tall doors with transoms, picture windows and a wraparound awning suspended over head. When it opens in October, the new Reginelli’s will be similar in feel to the Lakeview location, he said.
Reginelli will need city approval to sell alcohol at the new location, and the project is slated to appear before the City Planning Commmission at its Tuesday meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall. The planning staff is recommending approval with the usual conditions to prevent it from becoming a bar and neighbors have expressed no opposition, but Reginelli said he had hoped the building project would be farther along before Tuesday’s meeting, to reassure everyone that he isn’t planning any sort of dramatic expansion, such as a camelback.
“We’re gutting and completely upgrading the building,” Reginelli said. “I think everybody’s going to love what’s going to go in there. It’s going to be a great-looking space.”
As for the restaurant he plans to vacate, Reginelli said he currently has no plan to do anything with it himself, and has been fielding a number of calls from other people interested in the location.
“Magazine Street is hot right now,” Reginelli said. “I don’t think it’s going to be much of an issue to find somebody to take it over.”