Dew Drop Inn set to reopen before year’s end

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Jack Gillespie, courtesy of Preservation Resource Center

Workers have peeled back layers to restore the original Dew Drop Inn facade.

The Dew Drop Inn is set to reopen in winter 2023, the developers announced Thursday (Oct. 19) in a press release. The distinctly New Orleans landmark in Central City has been restored to its former glory as one of the country’s most culturally significant music venues. 

Once known as “the South’s swankiest spot,” the Dew Drop Inn’s current revival is led by real estate developer and New Orleans native Curtis Doucette Jr., whose passion for historical Black culture and music led him to acquire the Dew Drop in 2021 and spend three years restoring the beloved site, reimagining it as a destination that blends a legendary music venue, 17-room boutique hotel, restaurant and pool club. 

From the late 1930s until the late 1960s, the Dew Drop Inn hosted some of the most iconic musicians of our time, including legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Tina Turner and Etta James, as well as local legends like Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, among many others.

Courtesy of Tulane Digital Library

A photo by Ralston Crawford shows the Dew Drop Inn in 1952.

The venue served as an incubator for the birth of rhythm & blues and rock ’n’ roll. More than just a music venue, the Dew Drop Inn was a place where artists not only played but hung out, recorded and sometimes lived. It operated as a hotel, restaurant, nightclub and a barbershop.

The diverse business was a testament to the enterprising spirit of Black entrepreneurs amid Jim Crow segregation. It was featured in the Negro Motorist Green Book, which highlighted establishments that were deemed safe for Black travelers in the South.

The business thrived until 1964, when legal segregation ended and the number of venues available to patrons expanded. The club officially closed in 1972 after the death of the original owner, Frank Painia. The hotel remained home to some long-term tenants until Hurricane Katrina completely closed its doors in 2005. 

Uptown Messenger file photo

The Dew Drop Inn, 2836 LaSalle St.,  in January 2021.

The Dew Drop Inn now features a 410-person music venue along with 17 guest rooms, including three suites, designed in partnership with architecture and interior design firm Studio Kiro, and design cooperative Civic Studio.

Art deco and mid-century modern touches are used throughout the space to reflect the time periods that the Dew Drop Inn previously operated as a music venue and hotel, while preserving the landmarked architectural elements. Each guest room will pay homage to a musical or cultural icon whose influence helped shape the Dew Drop Inn, depicted through art, photos and historical artifacts.

Courtesy of Dew Drop Inn Hotel & Lounge

Rendering of a guest room in the Dew Drop Inn. Rooms will be named after musicians who helped shape the Dew Drop.

Visitors can pay homage to the heyday of the Dew Drop while gaining a greater connection to the icons of the past and New Orleans’ cultural heritage. Two of the suites, named the Groove Room and the Nite Cap, will overlook the main stage, offering hotel guests a front-row view of the musicians slated to perform in the storied venue and honoring the original Groove Room, which the former historic nightclub was nicknamed. 

The original hotel corridors, balconies and doorways remain in their existing locations to retain the historic relationship between the guest rooms and LaSalle Street. Studio Kiro revealed the original second level exterior walls and created light wells in the hotel’s throughways to highlight the connection between the original two neighboring buildings, which were combined in the 1940s to create the famed venue. 

Jack Gillespie, courtesy of Preservation Resource Center

Two buildings were combined in the 1940s to expand the Dew Drop Inn.

The Dew Drop Inn’s restaurant will serve authentic New Orleans cuisine, with nods to the signature dishes that the original space was known for. Guests can enjoy Southern comfort food staples at tables along the perimeter of the venue, or as grab-and-go options for in-room and poolside dining.

The Dew Drop Inn’s pool offers a bamboo enclosed  escape from the bustle of the city, available complimentary for hotel guests and to locals and tourists who purchase timed day passes. 

Soon local and visiting music lovers can learn what inspired Little Richard to write this song:

(Uptown Messenger)


Dew Drop Inn Hotel & Lounge
2836 LaSalle St.
Instagram: @dewdropinnnola

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