Dat Dog is one step closer to putting a smile on Magazine Street’s facade, after the City Planning Commission gave a positive recommendation to its request for alcohol Tuesday despite some objection by the Garden District Association.
The owners of Dat Dog plan to renovate the old storefront at 3336 Magazine — just a door down from Louisiana Avenue — into a similar design to their still-new location on Freret Street, with bright colors and outdoor seating, Constantine Georges told the City Planning Commission. Although alcohol makes up less than 10 percent of their sales, they are requesting a full liquor permit — primarily to be on an “even playing field” with other restaurants that do offer an extensive drink selection, Georges said.
That raises the question, Commissioner Kelly Brown said with a smile, of “whether a martini goes with a chili dog or not.”
“We’re not a bar,” Georges replied. “We’re really a family place. But parents do like drinking martinis from time to time — next to their kids.”
The Garden District Association was not strictly opposed to the alcohol sales, but wants Dat Dog to enter the same good-neighbor agreement that other new restaurants have signed, said Frank Tessier. The agreement goes beyond the city’s usual requirements, he said, prohibiting the sale of alcohol without food, video poker, neon signs, any noise or amplified music audible outside, or disposable plates and utensils.
Without a signed agreement, the association cannot support the alcohol request, Tessier said.
“We’re starting to get a little too much congestion,” Tessier said, noting 26 restaurants now between Jackson and Louisiana avenues with no parking requirements. “The neighbors that live on Camp Street can’t park in front of their houses. This is a problem.”
A representative of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association also said they’d like to see a good neighbor agreement, but that without it the association neither supports nor opposes the Dat Dog request.
Georges said Dat Dog plans to be a “great neighbor,” but he’d prefer that the city simply adopt the provisos it thought were necessary, so that he only has one regulating entity to deal with.
“These agreements are another layer upon the government that makes it a little onerous,” Georges said. “I’d rather y’all make the decision than have to sign another agreement with the neighborhood.”
Some of the Garden District’s requests were no problem for Georges, such as closing at 11 p.m. instead of midnight on weekends or not having a neon sign. Dat Dog on Freret currently serves food in paper trays, and Georges said he didn’t mind replacing those with reusable plastic, but preferred to keep the utensils disposable.
“Nobody walks off the premises with one of these plastic forks,” Georges said.
For video poker, Georges said he has no plans to install the machines, but would hate to give up that option for extra income if times every got tough at the location. And while he said he has no plans to make Dat Dog a live music venue, he said that part of the opening festivities for the Freret Street location included an accordion player.
“I would hate to have some neighbor come up and say, ‘Well, that’s against the rules there,’” Georges said.
Actually, it is against the rules there, the planning staff quickly informed Georges. It would be considered live music, and is not allowed in Magazine restaurants the way it is on Freret.
After the back-and-forth on the provisos, Planning Commissioner Robert Steeg said he didn’t believe that the commission should intercede in the negotiations between Dat Dog and the Garden District. What would be appropriate, he said, would be to write the conditions both parties agree to into the conditional use — specifically, the earlier closing hours, the prohibition against neon or backlit signs and against amplified music outside.
The motion passed 6-0, with three members absent: Louis Volz, Pamela Bryan and Craig Mitchell.
To watch a video of the discussion, see below:
Fleur de Lis catering | Just a few blocks up Magazine Street, Fleur de Lis catering is also requesting the ability to sell alcohol, but more specifically to store it for sales with their catering business. Charles LaCoste, the agent for the business, said no alcohol will actually be sold on the premises.
The request received the support of two neighboring business owners, but raised some concern with the 4850 Magazine Condo Association who worried that the next occupant of the property could then be a full-service liquor store. Steeg asked whether preventing sales at the location would make the request acceptable, and both the condo representative and LaCoste said it would be fine.
“We have no intention of ever selling anything from that location,” LaCoste said.
Steeg suggested adding a proviso that alcohol not be sold at the premises, but only stored there, and the motion passed 6-0.
The City Council must make a final decision on both issues.