Oxymoronic as it may sound, pop-ups are now a fixture in our local landscape. Naturally for New Orleans, our chefs and restaurateurs first blazed the pop-up trail by finding new and creative ways to promote their creations, the vanguard formed by such establishments as MV Burger popping up at Slim Goodies Diner in Uptown, BooKoo Barbecue popping up at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Mid-City, and down on Frenchmen Street, the taco truck formerly on Washington Square Park now popping up in the kitchen of Cafe Negril. Economically, pop-ups are brilliant: little to no overhead, the buzz surrounding their appearance a burst of free advertising, and an opportunity to cater to a hungry public with a minimum of staff or long-term maintenance costs. But chefs take note. There’s a new game in town: the art gallery pop-up.
Phillips Bar will become the third Maple Street watering hole this year to be brought before the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control board, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. Unlike Rocco’s and TJ Quills, which were both accused of serving drinks to minors following NOPD raids in January, the allegation against Phillips does not appear to a breach of the law in itself. Instead, Phillips is accused of breaking “special condition, restriction, or proviso” related to its license. But because good-neighbor agreements and restrictive covenants are becoming a more prominent part of the city’s arsenal against businesses that bother their neighbors — the prosecutions of both Rocco’s and TJ Quills ended in such agreements, for example — the Phillips case could represent an increased level of enforcement. The only other Uptown New Orleans establishment newly added to the board’s docket is the DO2GO Grocery at 1201 S. Rampart St., which is accused of a number of violations relating to permits and taxes.
A proposal to use a home on Maple Street as an office for two child psychologists was turned down by the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, but a Taco Bell planned for South Claiborne Avenue was given speedy approval. Dr. Lucinda Lang DeGrange said that the home she owns at 7513 Maple could already be used for her own practice, but that she had hoped to rent out one of its units to another psychologist, and for that needed a zoning change. Her house sits between two others at the edge of the Maple Street “neighborhood business” corridor, so that’s why she chose that zoning classification, she told planning commissioners. “That’s what’s already on the street. In theory, it would be an extension of what’s already there,” DeGrange said.
In Uptown New Orleans, a run for the border may soon get a good bit quicker. On Tuesday, the city planning commission will review plans for a Taco Bell restaurant in the long-vacant Pizza Hut building on South Claiborne Avenue. Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a child-psychology clinic proposed in an old home on Maple Street. The Taco Bell plans call for the demolition of the graffiti-prone Pizza Hut to make way for a new building with a drive through. The property is already zoned commercial, but because it’s located in an Inner-City Urban Use corridor, it requires specific permission to become a fast-food restaurant and carries stricter design standards.
T.J. Quills agreed to a $2,000 fine and strict operating conditions Tuesday, joining Rocco’s Tavern as the second Maple Street to bar to be placed under sanctions following allegations of underage drinking earlier this year. In addition to the fine, the bar must immediately fire any employee who sells alcohol to minors and must check for ID both at the door and at the bar, said city attorney Dan McNamara, reading the agreement during Tuesday’s meeting of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. TJ Quills must not play any music that can be heard more than 50 feet from the building. When music is playing, all windows must be shut, and patrons coming and going cannot hold the door open for more than 60 seconds. Loitering is prohibited outside the bar, and TJ Quills must help the neighborhood association, Maple Area Residents Inc., pay for security patrols in the blocks immediately around it.
Negotiations with the city that would allow a popular Maple Street college bar to retain its liquor license could come to a close at Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Following allegations of underage drinking at TJ Quills bar on Maple, the city has been crafting a set of operating conditions for the bar that would address neighbors’ complaints about litter and noise around the bar. In July, city officials said they were close to an agreement with the bar, but August’s ABO meeting was canceled, so TJ Quills is now on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall. Other Uptown establishments remaining on the ABO agenda include the Uptown Deli/Uptown Daiquiris/Discount City cluster of businesses at 2013 South Claiborne, the Key Food Store at 2600 Louisiana Avenue, the Precinct bar at 1379 Annunciation, Daiquiri Island on Earhart Boulevard, and Honey Bee’s Place at 2714 Felicity.
Two groups of young men were robbed at gunpoint within minutes of each other early Saturday morning on Lowerline Street, authorities said. The first robbery took place about 1:49 a.m. at Maple and Lowerline, and the victims were a group of four men aged 18 to 20. About 10 minutes later, three men in their early 20s were robbed about four blocks away, in the 1200 block of Lowerline. In each case, the victims were approached by a pair of men, one with a gun, who took their belongings and left on foot, police said. The gunman is described as a 5-foot-9, 145-pound black man with a beige hat, dark shirt and blue jeans, police said.
A second popular college bar on Maple Street is working with the city to create list of voluntary operating conditions that will allow it to avoid stricter sanctions on its liquor license. Like Rocco’s bar last month, T.J. Quills is now working with city prosecutors to draft a “consent judgment,” said bar attorney David Motter at Tuesday’s meeting of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. These documents are intended to reduce whatever conditions led to the complaints against the bar, and can carry strict legal penalties for violations. Last month, Rocco’s agreed to rules that require it to contribute money to the neighborhood’s off-duty police patrols, ensure that no music is audible outside the bar, keep that patrons inside, and to reduce go-cup litter. At Tuesday’s meeting, City Attorney Dan McNamara declined to comment on what sort of conditions T.J. Quills might be facing, since the case is still open.
TJ Quill’s bar has become the latest Maple Street college bar to fall under the city’s scrutiny, with a hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon before the Alcohol Beverage Control board. Allegations against the bar reference the city law that prohibits selling alcohol to people under 21, allowing people under 18 into a bar, or permitting any disturbance of the peace. Also on Tuesday’s agenda for the Alcohol Beverage Control Board are the Precinct on Annunciation, the cluster of businesses in the former Wagner’s Meat building on South Claiborne, and the Key Food Store on Louisiana Avenue. In June, after several months of negotiations with the city over similar charges, Rocco’s bar agreed to an extensive set of sanctions that included $2,000 in fines, contributions to the neighborhood safety patrols and strict measures to prevent underage drinking, noise, loitering or trash. That agreement was hailed by City Councilwoman Susan Guidry as a a model for curtailing “outrageous behavior” on Maple and making its entertainment venues more restrained, like those on Magazine or Oak street.
After a police crackdown on Maple Street’s college bars over the last few months, the city is hoping to negotiate a truce of sorts between the area’s most popular watering holes and the unhappy neighbors who live around them. Just after the new year, NOPD Commander Darryl Albert invited the owners of four bars to a meeting about complaints he had been receiving from area residents, Albert recalled Tuesday. The owners of Bruno’s and Door’s showed up and agreed to work to reduce the noise and trash they were generating, Albert said, but the owners of Rocco’s Tavern and TJ Quills did not attend. Later in January, NOPD vice and narcotics officers swept Rocco’s Tavern for underage drinkers and issued 14 citations (finding that 70 of the 100 patrons there were under 21), said Lt. Mike Montalbano of the NOPD Second District. Agents returned a second time and found most of the underage drinking confined to the outside area, Montalbano said, and they also targeted TJ Quills.