Mellow Mushroom pizzeria on Oak wins tentative support of Riverbend neighbors

A Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant proposed for Oak Street garnered the initial support of the Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association this week, although they took issue with a plan to convert some of the corridor’s scarce off-street parking into an outdoor dining area. James Son and his two partners in the venture have the two-story building at the corner of Dante Street under contract, and plan this fall to open a new location of the growing Mellow Mushroom pizza franchise, known for a hippie-style decor that caters to both a college crowd and young families. In part because of the need for a large kitchen space, Son said, the restaurant plans to convert part of its rear parking area into an outdoor dining area. The space will be partly enclosed to protect neighbors’ privacy, similar in concept to outdoor areas at Martinique Bistro or St. Joe’s bar on Magazine, Son said, but no plans have been drawn up.

Carrollton-Riverbend, Irish Channel neighborhoods each hold meetings tonight

The Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association will meet tonight to discuss a good-neighbor agreement with the proposed Mellow Mushroom and other new restaurants on Oak Street, while the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association will hear from several local nonprofits at their monthly meeting tonight. Starting at 7 p.m. at Squeal Bar-B-Q, the Carrollton-Riverbend group will hold a general discussion on future good-neighbor agreements along Oak Street, and will also hear updates from group members on crime, blight and the effort to create a charter for a neighborhood school. They will also plan for the association’s annual meeting May 22, and for a volunteer project in July. The Irish Channel also begins its meeting at 7 p.m. at Irish Channel Christian Fellowship at 819 First Street. They’ll be hearing about Global Green’s NOLAwise energy saving program, the Each One Save One mentorship program, and partnership opportunities with, as well as other neighborhood issues that may arise.

Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant hopes for October opening on Oak Street

Mellow Mushroom, the psychedelic-themed chain of pizza restaurants prevalent in college towns across the Southeast, is negotiating to open a new location on Oak Street by fall, three local investors told the neighborhood Thursday night. James Son, one of the three co-owners of the proposed restaurant, said they have a two-story building at the corner of Dante Street under contract. The restaurant would be a complete renovation of the yoga studio currently there and would use both floors for seating of 120 people or so. Their primary customer base, Son said, is young families looking for an affordable, full-service sit-down meal — the same families who are settling around the schools in the Carrollton area. “The demographic that would work well for us as a business and a restaurant is happening in this neighborhood,” Son said.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Downtown Rouses supermarket shows city’s comeback

One of the ways to tell the future of any city or neighborhood is to find out if investors are willing to put up their money to underwrite new ventures. By that criterion, New Orleans’ Warehouse District is on a roll. There is, for example, the new Rouses Supermarket in the 700 block of Baronne Street. A multi-million dollar investment by the Rouse family of Thibodeaux, the store – designed by John Williams, a New Orleans architect with offices in the Warehouse District – is a beauty, frequently filled with shoppers who live, work or pass through the Central Business District. On one recent afternoon, Danae bought a delicious-looking apple pie while I was drawn to the sushi prepared by an attentive Rouse’s chef behind the counter.

WOW Wingery takes top Po-Boy Fest award; Saltwater Grill also honored

Judges at this year’s Oak Street Po-Boy Festival named WOW Wingery Shanghai Shrimp Po-boy the “Best of Fest,” organizers announced today, and also awarded the Bread Pudding Po-Boy from Carrollton favorite Saltwater Grill the best specialty non-seafood entry. The Shanghai Shrimp also won the best shrimp category, according to the festival website. Other winners were:

Best Specialty Seafood: Ridge Deli & Bistro’s Shrimp Remoulade Po-boy
Best Specialty Seafood/Non-Shrimp: Redfish Grill’s Flash Fried Oyster Po-boy
Best Poultry: Sammy’s Ray Ray Po-boy
Best Meat: Blue Dot’s Pork Doboy Po-boy

Sammy’s and Redfish Grill were also among the winners in 2010.

Po-boys to take over Oak Street on Sunday

More than 40 of New Orleans’ finest po-boy purveyors will all be pushing the boundaries of the city’s signature sandwich on Sunday at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. On the food menu are po-boys with Thai pork, confit pork cheek, fried lobster, veal grillades, rabbit salad, “smoky Abita BLT shrimp,” paté and pickled vegetables, oysters rockefeller, as well as all sorts of variations on standbys such as roast beef, sausage and seafood. The spirit of experimentation extends beyond the sandwiches with entries such as chocolate-dipped Zapp’s chips. The festival’s three stages will include performances from George Porter Jr. & His Runnin Pardners, the Rebirth Brass Band, Papa Grows Funk and other Oak Street stalwarts. A full day’s worth of discussions on the cultural significance of the po-boy are planned, in addition to arts and crafts for children and a new area for relaxation known as Parkway Plaza.

Armed robbery reported at Oak and Adams in Carrollton

Three college students waiting for the Tulane University shuttle at the intersection of Oak and Adams streets in Carrollton were robbed at gunpoint about 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, police said. The robber held a black handgun at his side, demanded their money and threatened to shoot them, then left on foot down Adams Street with about $25 of their cash, police said. He is described as a 6-foot-tall, 180-pound black man with a gold tooth wearing a dark grey or black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. A number of officers were on the scene very quickly after the robbery was reported, and the suspect was nowhere to be found, said Second District officer Brandon Singleton, which suggests he may live very close to the robbery scene. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Second District detectives at 658-6020 or, to leave an anonymous tip that could be eligible for a cash reward, call CrimeStoppers at 822-1111.

New images released of suspects in robberies at knifepoint, Rite Aid holdup

Investigators have released new images of a pair of men who held up the Rite Aid pharmacy on South Carrollton Avenue during Tropical Storm Lee and of a man now believed to be responsible for at least four robberies at knifepoint around the Carrollton neighborhoods. Trebor Blanton, 23, was already wanted in connection with one of a series of three similar robberies along Dublin Street in Carrollton, has now been linked to a fourth robbery and auto theft that took place Monday about a mile away in the Black Pearl neighborhood, police said. Shortly after 4 p.m., a woman was loading her computer bag and purse into her vehicle, when she was approached from behind by a stranger with a large, machete-style knife, police said. The man forced the woman to give him the keys to the vehicle and took off in it, and investigators located her cell phone shortly afterward at the corner of Leake and South Carrollton, police said. The description she gave the police resembled Blanton, and on Tuesday, investigators obtained a surveillance camera image of him at a gas station in New Orleans East attempting to use her credit card, they said.