Resilient Magazine Street merchants like Juliet Hainkel Holton and Desiree Petitbon are making final preparations for reopening their two shuttered shops on Saturday (May 15). The co-owners of the trendy boutiques Basics Underneath and Basics Swim & Gym, 5513-15 Magazine St., Holton and Petitbon were inspired to tiptoe into retail 21 years ago after a fateful trip to France. They realized a customer base existed Uptown for properly fitted foundation garments that are popular during the Mardi Gras season as well as for weddings and other special events throughout the year. What began as a fun little sideline blossomed into their main job. Through hard work and dedication, the two single moms steadily built a successful business that brought in more than $1 million annually until COVID-19.
For Part 2 of this two-part series on Magazine Street, Uptown Messenger takes a snapshot of restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Part 1 focused on local shops and galleries.)
Along Magazine Street, a gastronome can sample French, Indian, Vietnamese, Cajun, Creole, Chinese and homegrown flavors in myriad restaurants that dot the six-mile stretch. Bars, an important part of New Orleans social life and culture, can be temples of cocktail culture or beloved neighborhood hangouts. Coffee shops offer places to relax, visit, study or work and have their own individual vibes. Along with the mix of retail stores, these businesses have made Magazine Street a popular destination for tourists and locals.
For Part 1 of this two-part series on Magazine Street, Uptown Messenger is focusing on retail businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Part 2 will focus on restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The following is a snapshot of local shops and galleries. The six-mile Uptown stretch of Magazine Street is home to approximately 300 businesses, creating a hub for tourists and locals to enjoy shopping, dining and cocktails. Five weeks ago, when Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued the stay-at-home order, followed by Gov. John Bel Edwards three days later, these small businesses had to shutter their storefront operations.
The 10th annual Champagne Stroll on Magazine Street is still on for May 2. It’s just not on the street, it’s online, the Magazine Street Merchants Association has announced. Magazine Street (@MagazineStreet) will host an interactive Instagram live video feed, the “Virtually Champagne Stroll,” on Saturday, May 2. Merchants will offer special deals and followers can chime in with their messages supporting Magazine Street and photos of themselves drinking champagne and shopping online. This night has been one of the flagship events of the Magazine Street Merchants Association, providing heavy traffic and much needed sales to many businesses on Magazine Street, giving them a boost before the traditional summer slump sets in.
The Breaux Mart at 3233 Magazine St., along with the others in the local supermarket chain, will be closed Sunday (March 29) to give its employees a rest, according to posts on the store’s social media accounts. While most employees will get a chance to sleep late and put their feet up for a while, crews will be working behind the locked doors on some deep cleaning, sanitizing and restocking, store managers say. Breaux Mart has also won praise for its finesse in the art of social distancing. The store has reserved the 8 to 9 a.m. hour on Tuesdays for shoppers ages 60 and up.
The economic effects of coronavirus reverberated across New Orleans on Monday, with local store owners describing feelings of bewilderment and anxiety as they considered how the virus would affect their bottom line. While some are cautiously optimistic, others have despaired of being able to keep their business alive through the pandemic. “If it lasts for months, then most people won’t survive,” said Bettye Barrios, owner of the home goods store Aux Belles Choses on Magazine Street. “We’ve been here 29 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Just one customer entered Barrios’ shop on Monday. She sells linens, soaps, and gifts, many imported from France and England, but she had to cancel an upcoming business trip to Europe.
Poydras Home’s Magazine Street gate will open wide this Thursday as they welcome patrons and the public to their first Holiday Tree Lighting & Music Festival. From 7 to 8 p.m., this new Uptown tradition will feature a 30 foot lighted tree and holiday music on their front lawn, as well as a patron party from 6 to 8 p.m.
Everyone is welcome, free of charge, to hear holiday favorites and gospel music performed by the New Orleans Council on Aging Community Choir under the direction of Mrs. Rhea Dokes. CC’s Coffee House will provide hot cocoa provided, and Cookies will be compliments of Poydras Home for patrons, residents, resident families, neighbors and guests alike. The music begins at 7 p.m., and the majestic 30-foot tree will be lit at 7:30 p.m.
The Patron Party will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. inside Poydras Home’s historic 1857 Hall. It will feature musical entertainment by the New Orleans Center For Creative Arts (NOCCA) jazz and vocal students led by Vocal Coach Anne Sumich.
Coast Roast Coffee Shops is opening a new, stand-alone location Uptown on Magazine Street. The shop is ready for a Friday, Oct. 18, opening, owner Kevin Pedeaux said. The Coast Roast brand has been served for the past decade in businesses around town, and from its coffee shops in two of the city’s markets. To help celebrate Friday’s opening, Honduran farmers who supply coffee beans to Coast Roast will viwi5 the shop from 5 to 8 p.m..
Brothers Three Lounge, long known as the Magazine Street dive bar with low ceilings and a mustard-yellow exterior, is closed until further notice following the death of its owner. This weekend, a sign was placed in the door simply saying, “closed until further notice” and below those words “sorry.” A padlock made sure the door was kept shut. The bar hasn’t served drinks since Saturday, when its owner John Silvy Jr. died at the age of 85, according to the online obituary service Dignity Memorial. On Wednesday, flowers and a handwritten note were left at the bar entrance. “We will miss you Mr. Johnnie R.I.P.,” the note read, followed up with “B 3 4 ever” and “Love, Michelle.”
In an era where drinking on Magazine Street is becoming more synonymous with heading to bright, modern spaces to savor specialty cocktails, Brothers Three — also written out as Brothers III — kept things simple, and anything but pretentious.
The Magazine Street Merchants Association will present its ninth annual Magazine Street Champagne Stroll on Saturday, May 11. Over 100 Magazine Street businesses will provide free sparkling wine, with many offering special deals, live music, promotional sales, and art or trunk shows. Participating shops will extend their hours to 9 p.m. This is a chance for locals and visitors to support businesses on Magazine Street the day before Mother’s Day. The event is free and open to the public. Visit magazinestreet.com for a list of participating stores, shops, galleries, and restaurants. About MSMA
The Magazine Street Merchants Association is a coalition of business located on or near New Orleans’ Magazine Street corridor.