Jackson Avenue chicken-wings restaurant faces growing opposition to liquor license

Concerns about what neighbors described as repeated disruptive block parties at a Jackson Avenue chicken wings restaurant led the Coliseum Square Association to withhold its support for a liquor license at the establishment Monday night. The owner of Finger Lick’n Wings, Marlon Horton, has said that he originally envisioned his competition for customers as small sandwich shops in the neighborhood, but discovered that many customers prefer takeout orders or delivery because he cannot sell alcohol with his food. On game days, “it’s like crickets” in his restaurant, because sports fans are all at restaurants like WOW Cafe and Wingery that can sell alcohol. Horton extolled the good behavior of his business, noting its well-kept storefront and dedication to fighting litter, but many neighbors complain that he has frequently held large parties that consume all of Jackson Avenue. Horton replied that his local fame as bounce artist 10th Ward Buck means that any event at his store draws a large crowd, but said he was willing to sign a good-neighbor agreement to stop having any parties.

Jackson Avenue memorial to Katrina victim Vera Smith will move to accommodate new restaurant

During Hurricane Katrina, the vacant lot that will soon become Charcoal’s Gourmet Burger Bar was the site of the temporary grave of Vera Smith, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver and whose body lay outside unclaimed by authorities for days until neighbors built her a makeshift grave with the spray-painted inscription, “Here lies Vera – God help us,” that became a nationally-known image of the city’s despair. Smith’s body was moved soon afterward, but the site remains marked by a cross memorial designed by artist Simon Hardeveld. Hardeveld, whose studio in “Antiques on Jackson” is adjacent to the site, said he will move the memorial soon to accommodate Charcoal’s construction. Like many neighbors in the area, Hardeveld is happy to see progress made at the lot, where weeds and tall grass defy lawn-care efforts and litter accumulates quickly from a nearby bus stop. “Something needs to be done with the lot,” Hardeveld said.

New gourmet burger restaurant in Lower Garden District, alcohol sales at Freret corner store approved

Both a long-stalled gourmet burger restaurant planned for the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street and a Freret Street corner store’s request begin selling alcohol received initial approval from the City Planning Commission today, but a decision on a proposed film-studio space on Constance Street was deferred for a month. (Note: See the end of this article for a recap of our live coverage of the debate on each issue.)

Charcoal’s Gourmet Burger Bar is a proposed two-story hamburger restaurant with diner-style counter service on the ground floor and full table service upstairs designed by the owners of Somethin’ Else cafe in the French Quarter, said architect Kimberly Finney. The project was originally proposed several years ago, but troubles with the contractor stalled the project until its permission from the city to build expired. Charcoal’s requires a conditional use to build on the Magazine Street site because its two-story floor plan is larger than the 5,000 square feet normally allowed by its zoning. It has six on-site parking spaces, and will also require a waiver for the other 10 spaces that its size would technically require.

Hapless burglar frightened away by lower Magazine residents twice in a week

A particularly inept burglar in the lower Magazine Street area was interrupted during a break-in and scared away by residents twice in a week, police said. A woman in the 2700 block of Magazine heard a loud knocking at her neighbor’s residence Wednesday and came outside to see an older man who then acted as if he was leaving, said Sgt. Sabrina Richardson of the NOPD Sixth District property-crimes division. She went back inside, but looked outside a few minutes later to see the same man walking out of her neighbor’s home carrying a small medicine bag, Richardson said. The woman ran outside with a golf club and confronted the burglar, who dropped the bag and ran off, Richardson said.

Troubled nonprofit’s properties attract Irish Channel’s continued concerns

The Irish Channel Neighborhood Association is continuing its efforts to clean up properties owned by a troubled nonprofit by taking members’ concerns about crime and neglect to the mayor’s office. In July, a home in the 2300 block of Laurel Street owned by Galilee Housing Initiative was the target of a drive-by shooting, the second such incident there, said Irish Channel board member Adolph Lopez at the association’s monthly meeting Thursday night. The neighborhood then compiled a record of all the police calls associated with the address over the past 17 months and compiled it into a letter, and sent it to City Councilwoman Stacy Head for review, Lopez said. Head then read the letter into the record during the city’s budget hearing on blight issues, said board member Ed McGinnis. The next step, he said, should be either an audit of Galilee by the city or an investigation into criminal activity at the property by the district attorney’s office with an eye toward seizing it, McGinnis said.