The French Truck coffee roasters will soon be setting up a walk-in shop in the Lower Garden District; the owners of Sylvain plan to start serving food at their new Barrel Proof bar across the street; and the Courtyard Brewery is now only about two months from opening as the corner of Magazine and Erato heats up over the summer, business owners said.
French Truck houses its coffee-roasting operations in the Erato Street warehouse where Courtyard Brewery plans to open, but its wholesale operations to local restaurants and new presence in area groceries have grown the company too large for the space on Erato, said owner Geoffrey Meeker. Next month, Meeker plans to move into the corner building at Magazine and Erato, already painted the same yellow as the company’s signature delivery trucks, he said.
The new location will include not only the roasting operations, but also a small storefront retail space and coffee shop, Meeker said. Customers will be able to buy French Truck cold brew and beans while watching the roasting operation in the back, similar to a microbrewery, Meeker said.
“A lot of places sell our coffee, but we don’t really have a place where you can just come buy a pound from us,” Meeker said in an interview Tuesday morning.
The shop will also have a pour-over bar and an espresso machine, but not much seating, Meeker said. It will be more of a European-style, walk-up coffee bar for people on the go, Meeker said, “not a come in, sit down on the couch and spend the day” kind of shop.
Courtyard Brewery, meanwhile, continues moving rapidly to an opening their microbrewery and tasting room later this summer, like in mid-to-late August, the owners said Monday night. They have obtained federal approval for their brewing operations, and completed the plumbing work necessary on the Erato Street warehouse. They also received unanimous approval from the City Council with the backing of nearby neighbors, noted co-owner Scott Wood at a Monday night meeting of the Coliseum Square Association.
“A lot of that is due to the support of the people in this room,” Wood to the association. “We’re just very excited and we wanted to say thanks.”
Wood and his wife, Lindsay Hellwig, had thought that live music — specifically, unamplified, three-person ensembles — would be included in their alcohol permit, but have gotten mixed responses from city officials on whether that is the case. For the time being, they said, they won’t pursue the music, and if they change their minds later, they’ll return to the neighborhood association to discuss it.
“We just want to get into business and start brewing beer,” Wood said.While French Truck prepares to move and Courtyard Brewery prepares to open, the Bridge Lounge at the same intersection of Magazine and Erato has been bought by Robert LeBlanc and Liam Deegan and reopened as Barrel Proof in the middle of May. They are focusing more on craft beer and curated whiskey selections for now, but in what they acknowledged was an “unpopular” decision, they no longer allow dogs or smoking inside.
The reason for the change, LeBlanc explained, is that they plan to open a small kitchen, “hopefully as early as August.” The menu will be moderately priced, LeBlanc said, but while they debate which recipes they plan to use, they thought it better to begin preparing patrons for the change now.
“It’ll be something along the fast-casual line,” LeBlanc said. “It will be curated by our chef from Sylvain, Alex Harrell. It’s not a sit-down, formal restaurant with traditional wait staff. It’ll be more counter service.”
Most important, LeBlanc said, is that Barrel Proof retain a neighborhood feel. They don’t plan to become a sports bar, for example, but will show the current World Cup games or the Saints. Likewise, they may host small parties there — such as rehearsal dinners — but nothing major that would stretch late into the night and disturb the neighbors. They have also removed the video poker machines, based on statistics that show bars with them are more likely to be robbed.
“It’s really designed to be part of the neighborhood, as it always has been,” LeBlanc said.
The neighborhood association members applauded the changes at the corner, though the appearance of both the Courtyard Brewery and Barrel Proof before them on the same night drew some jokes. “We didn’t know they were going to be here tonight, but they are friends,” Wood said of the Barrel Proof team.
Jesse LeBlanc, the landlord for Courtyard Brewery and a resident of the same block, joined in the praise for the Barrel Proof team for being good neighbors.
“When it comes to alcohol, it’s a huge concern,” LeBlanc said. “I want to thank all of you for being neighborhood-friendly.”