Robert LeBlanc first told neighbors last year that he and partner Sean McCusker were interested in the former Duke Morgan spa at the corner of Foucher and Magazine as the site of their third restaurant, and the first in Uptown. On Tuesday, LeBlanc returned to the Faubourg Delachachaise Neighborhood Association’s quarterly meeting to report that they had bought the building and moving forward with plans to convert it to a restaurant.
Currently, LeBlanc said, he is working with officials with the city’s Historic Districts Landmarks Commission on how to handle the porch, which was a later addition to the building, and how to add wheelchair ramps to the building. The building will also need a conditional use for alcohol sales, and LeBlanc said that while his outreach to the neighborhood is ongoing, the formal application for that is still about two months away.
In all, LeBlanc said the project is still essentially on pace for an opening around October, in line with the fall 2014 goal they originally set.
“We still have a very long way to go with this,” LeBlanc said. “We’re not behind schedule, because we planned a long lead time. We do fully intend to be a restaurant.”
Neighbors were enthusiastic about the concept back in September when the owners first presented it, and no objections arose during Tuesday night’s meeting — what they mostly wanted was to hear more about the menu. LeBlanc has said it will be a Southern casual restaurant, giving Sylvain’s chef and general manager a chance to work in a larger kitchen and expand on some of the ideas they don’t have room to execute in Sylvain’s small French Quarter space. On Tuesday, LeBlanc said he expects the pricing to run somewhere between Byblos and Lilette, two other familiar Magazine Street restaurants.
“We’re very proud of Sylvain, but it’s a really small kitchen physically, so we’re kind of limited,” LeBlanc said. “Our chef’s been with us for four years, and he has a lot of brilliant recipes that he does for wine dinners and things like that. What it’s designed to be is hopefully it’s a refined restaurant that’s nice, but it’s accessibly priced.”
The restaurant will seat around 65 people, and will have 24 off-street parking spaces through agreements with surrounding businesses. The restaurant will primarily be open for dinner, but may include Friday lunch or Sunday brunch. The bar, LeBlanc noted, is specifically intended as seating for single diners, and he hopes much of the business will be from neighbors within walking distance.
“The design is truly to be a neighborhood restaurant,” LeBlanc said. “We really want it to be a sense of community.”
The Sylvain expansion was one of three high-profile downtown restaurants that announced interest in neighborhood-style concepts for Uptown last year. One of the others, Pizza Domenica, is opening this week farther up Magazine; the other, Three Muses, could not make their real-estate deal on Freret Street work and have moved on to other projects.