Tipitinia’s expansion moves forward with City Council approval

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The new venue will be in a building at 4331 Tchoupitoulas St. previously used as a short-term rental.

It’s been a tough slog for the city’s live-music industry since the pandemic hit, but one classic Uptown venue is looking to the future with plans to expand. Tipitina’s music club received approval from the City Council on Thursday to open a new club next door.

The new venue will be a café and restaurant by day and a bar with live music at night.

“With Covid and all that has been shut down, this is an exciting thing to watch, that Tipitina’s is actually expanding,” said District B Councilman Jay H. Banks. “Anything we can do to let our culture bearers, the backbone of our economy, to have more opportunities to work, is a good thing.”

The council unanimously voted to grant to permit a bar with entertainment in the building, commonly referred to as the Tchoup House, as long as the operators followed nine provisos the City Planning Commission put forward in August by the City Planning Commission.

They include a promise to “work with nearby property owners, businesses and residents to secure and maintain dedicated parking spaces for the use of patrons and employees, particularly during the evening hours.” Tipitina’s owners are in talks with the nearby Rouses Market to use that parking lot at night.

Banks noted that the venue at 4331 Tchoupitoulas St. “is not designed to be a smaller Tip’s.” It has a capacity of around 100, compared to Tipitina’s capacity of around 800. There will be no outdoor music, and the patio will be required to close by 10 p.m. on weeknights and by midnight on the weekend.

via City Planning Commission

The coffee house and cocktail bar will include seating, a patio and a lounge.

Mary Slason, the venue manager at Tipitina’s, said during the hearing that the venue will host small-scale shows in the vein of a jazz trio or solo acts. “For the bar, we are envisioning more of a lounge — intimate, upscale, cozy,” Slason said, “a place for our customers to relax as they mingle, enjoying a piano man and a signature cocktail.”

Slason added, “We are in talks with an established local business to run the coffee shop. This company was displaced from its long-term location on Magazine Street during the pandemic, and we are excited to get them back in the neighborhood.”

Tommy LeBlanc, co-owner of Hey! Café, confirmed in August that he was in talks with Tipitina’s to run the café. Hey! Café closed its location on Magazine Street near Napoleon in September and ran a pop-up shop out of Tipitina’s for several months. Hey Café has also had a location on the Lafitte Greenway in Mid-City since 2018.

Uptown Messenger file photo

Hey! Cafe at Tipitina’s in December 2020

Slason said there were plans to renovate the interior of the building, which was formerly a short-term rental space, but not the exterior. The renovation is expected to take about four months.

Adam Shipley, co-owner of the building and manager for the Soul Rebels and Walter “Wolfman” Washington, also spoke at the meeting in support of the proposal.

“I’ve booked all the music at Tipitina’s for years,” Shipley said. “It’s a great club and the heartbeat of this city. I think this will allow them to continue to thrive.”

Reporter Sharon Lurye can be reached at sharonrlurye@gmail.com.

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