Free HIV test center plans to open in former Garden District day spa

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF, has plans to open an HIV testing center, health care center, pharmacy and Out of the Closet thrift store on Magazine Street. 

The Los Angeles-based foundation has purchased the building on Magazine Street and Sixth Street, the former location of the Belladonna Day Spa. The health care center is tentatively set to open in August, an AHF spokesperson said. AHF is the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care, according to the foundation’s website. It operates in 45 countries, and its U.S. medical centers are in 17 states, including Louisiana, with a clinic in Baton Rouge. 

The foundation plans to use both floors of the two-story 19th century building at 2900 Magazine St. The first floor will be used as a thrift store and likely a donation center; the upper floor will be used for AIDS and STD testing and a medical clinic.

Wishing Town Bakery: Come for the dumplings, stay for the pastries

Wishing Town Bakery, a Metairie favorite for Chinese dim sum since its inception in early 2020, has brought its dumplings and sweets Uptown to the former Café Luna spot at Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue. The founders of Wishing Town, Vivi and Kevin Zheng, are from Guangzhou, China, and began delighting customers with their egg tarts and cakes in early 2018 in a small spot on David Drive. In 2020, they expanded to their current Metairie location in the building that was once home to the famed Morning Call Coffee Stand. 

The pandemic caused the café to shut its doors temporarily, and upon reopening, welcomed customers from all over town, including people who drove from Uptown just for a taste of what the Zhengs had to offer. Opening an Uptown location of the café seemed like a logical next step, said the Zheng’s business partner Aisha Chen, the manager of the Uptown location. “We weren’t completely sure about the new location until we saw the space,” Chen said.

Eye Wares clinic and optical shop to open at Magazine and State

Local optometrist Dr. Lauren Agnew purchased the 20-year-old Eye Wares clinic and optical boutique two weeks before Covid-19 shut down optometry practices across the nation in March 2020. Despite the rough start, she is opening her third practice Friday (June 3) in the newly constructed building at the site of the former Shell station at Magazine and State streets. After multiple delays due to Covid and Hurricane Ida, the official public grand opening is scheduled for Friday. The commercial building at 6001 Magazine is also home to a Starbucks, Club Pilates and the Audubon Facial Plastic Surgery. With Eye Wares, the building will be fully occupied.

Magazine Street businesses getting ready for Champagne Strolling on Saturday

The Champagne Stroll on Magazine Street is back. The after-hours shopping and sipping soiree will take place Saturday (May 14) from 5 to 9 p.m.

Special sales,  sips, bites, music and more will be available up and down Magazine. See here for a list of businesses and their Champagne Stroll offerings. Some of the Magazine merchants are getting ready for Champagne Stroll by decorating champagne bottles. See them here.

Red Gravy on Magazine to close, citing staffing, pandemic and hurricane woes

Red Gravy Cafe is closing after serving rustic Italian fare on Magazine Street’s restaurant row for less than a year. The last day of business will be Saturday (April 30). Owner Roseann Rostoker blames bad timing and the combination of the pandemic, staff shortages and Hurricane Ida for the closure. Rostoker and her husband and business partner, Lou Lombardo, are from New Jersey and Philadelphia, respectively. They moved to New Orleans 10 years ago and opened Red Gravy as a brunch and lunch spot on Camp Street in the Central Business District.

New building on Magazine Street gets HDLC approval over neighbors’ objections

In a divided vote held after two months of hearings, the Historic District Landmarks Commission gave the green light to a new mixed-use building on Magazine Street in the Irish Channel. Their April 6 ruling will now go before the City Council, which could overturn the vote. The Garden District Association has filed an appeal, GDA Executive Director Shelley Landrieu told Uptown Messenger. Garden District, Irish Channel and Lower Garden District residents came out in force to oppose the plans for the three-story 15,000-square-foot building planned for an empty lot at 2230 Magazine St. The HDLC received 29 letters of opposition to the plans and one letter of support, according to city records.

Magasin Vietnamese Café closes on Magazine, joins Mukbang on Oak Street

Magasin Vietnamese Café recently closed its Magazine Street location, but the Magasin egg rolls, pho, vermicelli and other menu favorites can now be found on Oak Street. 

The owners of Magasin, formerly at 4201 Magazine St., and Mukbang Seafood at 8312 Oak St. have merged the two restaurants. The Oak Street restaurant’s menu will pull double duty and offer Mukbang’s buttery boiled seafood and Magasin’s Vietnamese favorites. “The building was sold, and our lease ended last year,” said Mukbang and Magasin owner Kim Nguyen. “We figured the merging of the two businesses would be a great new beginning since the building on Oak is a 3,000 square foot space.

St. Joe’s Bar plans to reopen at end of January, The Times-Picayune reports

Boarded up since Hurricane Ida in August, St. Joe’s Bar on Magazine and Joseph streets plans to reopen at the end of January, Ian McNulty reports on NOLA.com. Proprietor Charlie Thompson told McNulty he has been focusing on his other business, Uptown Costume & Dancewear, but is now working to staff the bar for a reopening.

Que Rico! on Magazine fears closure over lengthy permitting process

The owners of Que Rico! Cuban Cafe on Magazine Street say their restaurant’s future could depend on an alcohol permit. 

Since the pandemic started, the small restaurant has lost 65% of its customers, said Iderlin Donna Carrillo, who owns the business with her husband, Richard Rivera. Last week, they closed temporarily, citing staffing shortages. 

Carrillo and Rivera said they need an alcohol permit to increase sales and profitability during the pandemic but worry they won’t receive approval in time. “We were rocking and rolling without liquor before the pandemic,” Carrillo said. “But we need it now to survive.

After pandemic losses, Magazine Street businesses were counting on Carnival parade revenue. Then the routes changed.

While most New Orleanians are glad the parades will return to the streets for the 2022 Carnival season, the route changes will hurt many of the small businesses along Magazine Street. The 2022 routes, announced on Tuesday by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, eliminate the  stretch of Magazine Street from Jefferson to Napoleon Avenue, where nine krewes begin their procession, and the longer stretch of Magazine from Henry Clay Avenue that the Krewe of Thoth commands. Instead, these parades will all line up at Napoleon and Prytania Street. The owners of Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco at 5015 Magazine were expecting the revenue from the parade-viewing crowds to help with their financial recovery from the pandemic. “Mardi Gras parades are a financial boost for us,” said Tito’s co-owner Tatiana Lock.