Opposition to a plan to turn a vacant coffee shop on St. Charles Avenue into a small daiquiri bar grew more formal Monday night when the Lower Garden District Association voted unanimously to oppose the project at its hearing before the City Planning Commission next week.
Tiger Paw Daiquiris and Grill, a Baton Rouge-based daiquiri shop, is seeking to move its LSU-themed business into the former Krewe du Brew location at 1610 St. Charles Avenue, proposing a small bar with just seven seats inside so patrons can grab a drink and move on. Owners Chris Mercier and Ferdinand Jefferson ran into vehement opposition from nearby residents and business owners this summer at a neighborhood meeting about the request, which is now set for a City Planning Commission hearing on Oct. 23, according to city documents.
Much of the opposition centered on the history of daiquiri sales in that stretch of St. Charles, where both the former Daiquiri Place Cafe and Santa Fe Tapas ran into repeated trouble with the city’s alcohol board over unruly crowds so massive that the New Orleans Police Department could not manage them. Residents recalled cars simply stopping in the middle of St. Charles Avenue on busy weekend days in front of the shop, halting traffic interminably, or parking across the streetcar tracks and even sometimes engaging in dangerous drag races.
“It’s becoming quite contentious. A lot of neighbors don’t want it there,” said Julie Simpson at Monday night’s meeting of the Lower Garden District Association. “Because it’s such a small space, the business can’t hold their clients and business is going to spill out on the street.”
Association president Ryan Kropog said he had received numerous emails from residents upset about the proposal, and none for it. For that reason, he said, he recommended the association vote against it.
“Everyone who was there, they remember the Daiquiri Place Cafe further down the street,” Kropog said. “I haven’t heard one person support this. Given the context, I don’t see any way we can support this.”
The Lower Garden District Association board has supported a number of alcohol-serving establishments recently, endorsing drinks at Union Ramen and adopting neutral stance on the controversial “Fallen Saint” music venue, but the daiquiri shop found no supporters on the board. Association board member Trenton Gauthier had said at the August neighborhood meeting that he conceptually liked the idea of a place close to home to grab a few drinks, but also agreed Monday that the logistics proposed by Tiger Paw for their space simply did not work.
“I’m predisposed to like it, despite the history, but even I think it’s a terrible idea,” Gauthier said.
Kropog said he had exchanged some emails with the owners where they made various promises, but that all of them seemed unenforceable in the long run. With only a week before the project’s scheduled appearance before the City Planning Commission — which meets at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 — the association voted unanimously for Kropog to speak in opposition to the project.