City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell praised the John Besh Group’s “great job” of outreach to the neighborhood around 4933 Magazine and praised the idea for a more family-oriented version of Domenica as a “wonderful restaurant.”
“We appreciate the love that the Besh Group showed the community on the front end,” Cantrell said. “You make us all better.”
Besh made a quick appearance before the council himself, noting that his group of restaurants now employs 1,000 people around the city. Pizza Domenica will fit into Magazine Street and Uptown as well as his other restaurants have fit into the French Quarter and Central Business Districts, he said.
“We intend to be lifelong neighbors and good stewards of the neighborhood,” Besh said.
Mark Tullis of the Faubourg Avart Neighborhood Association recalled the group’s open house at the restaurant and subsequent question-and-answer at the association’s quarterly meeting.
“They’ve answered all of our questions,” Tullis said. “We’re very pleased with the access we have and very supportive of the proposal.”
Pizza Domenica had previously received a mostly favorable but technically split vote from the City Planning Commission amid some concerns about parking and a tangential discussion of go cups. Cantrell’s motion on Thursday in favor of the restaurant deleted the provision prohibiting go-cups, noting that neighbors were fine with the souvenir-style cups the Besh Group uses.
The proposal passed the full council Thursday with a 7-0 vote. Domenica Chef Alon Shaya has said he hopes the new restaurant can open next spring.
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In a separate vote, the Council also granted its approval to a special taxing district that will impose an additional 1-percent tax on purchases at the Magnolia Marketplace shopping center slated for the corner of South Claiborne and Toledano to fund infrastructure and site-raising improvements there. Councilwoman Susan Guidry said that the city needs a mix of major retailers in its large commercial tracts and small, local businesses, and Councilwoman Stacy Head agreed jokingly that she is tired of driving to the Michael’s in Metairie to buy materials for science projects.
Cantrell noted that the project spends no money from the city’s general fund, and Councilman James Gray praised the ongoing transformation of the entire city.