Entrepreneurs fight with neighbors to open a Daiquiri World restaurant

Kristine Froeba, Uptown Messenger

1738 Louisiana Ave.

The former Chicken’s Church building on Louisiana Avenue has recently turned into a battleground for a neighborhood association and entrepreneurs who are renovating it into a full-service restaurant with a liquor store.

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The Delachaise Community Association filed a petition with the Zoning Board to stop work on a two-story building from St. Charles Ave. He says the planned Daiquiri World will be a bar disguised as a restaurant and that the design will resemble a fast food joint.

BZA staff recommended denying the appeal, saying the plans showed a typical restaurant. But the BZA office said the plans were incomplete and no sign had a permit. They voted on August 1 to postpone the call to next month’s meeting.

Daiquiri World is the brainchild of New Orleans native Morgan Walker, a black entrepreneur and activist who founded Bike n Vote. “Now, my dream and vision to open a restaurant in the area where I grew up has been crushed,” Walker testified before the board..

He said he wants to put the vacant building at Louisiana and Baronne, formerly home to Sal’s Seafood and most recently a MetroPCS store, back to retail. The city issued a building permit on May 12.

“The safety and licensing position is that they meet all the requirements, and even if they do, the operative word is ‘fit,'” said ADN President Donna Robertson, who filed the appeal. “Security and licensing do not have a mechanism in place to review these types of requests.”

He also noted that Walker failed to disclose, in response to questions on the Safety & Permits application, that the restaurant is within 300 feet of Cohen College Prep High School. As the company intends to sell alcohol, ADN finds Safety & Permits very relevant but does not consider this information to be important in practice,” said Robertson.

Robertson then went on to describe a situation where a business could circumvent the zoning ordinance by secretly applying to open a restaurant and then turning the building into a bar. And he said the project represents a change of use and major improvements, requiring additional permits that the city has not issued.

In his denial, Walker came together to defend his business plan. He reiterated that he is opening a restaurant with permanent dining, table service and a full menu. He also mentioned a full kitchen remodel that he is currently working on.

He added that the floor plan will include a crescent-shaped grill where customers can watch chefs prepare food similar to the Camellia Grill.

My building sits on the corner of Louisiana Avenue outside the neighborhood, a commercial street surrounded by beauty shops, liquor stores, other restaurants and funeral homes,” said Walker. This building has been vandalized over the years with trash and graffiti everywhere. It’s just a thumbs up, and my investment will improve the property value of the neighborhood.

Eagle Eye Resources through BZA

Sketch of the proposed interior for Daiquiri World

Not in my area?

At the hearing, the neighborhood association raised a number of complaints, including those not covered by the city’s rights-of-way ordinance.

Speaking to the Delachaise Neighborhood Association, Robertson and Helene Barnett listed several reasons why the restaurant should not be allowed to open on the commercial corridor.

These include parking problems, increased crime, disruption to nearby high school students in their studies, problems with Daiquiri Place Café in the Lower Garden District and the Jazz Daiquiri Lounge in South Claiborneand the name of the company is alcoholic beverages.

You have the ability and opportunity to ensure that the students of Cohen High School don’t bump into Daiquiri World customers and inexpensive high-octane alcohol every day,” Barnett told the board.

Walker defended the name during the hearing, even though the BZA does not have jurisdiction over the company’s name. Our company name uses a New Orleans root, ‘daiquiri,’ not to promote a restaurant but for marketing to attract tourists from St. Charles to enter the restaurant,” he said. We believe the ‘daiquiri’ will draw people in and the food will keep them coming back.

Kristine Froeba, Uptown Messenger

Previous MetroPCS internal updates are underway.

Each neighborhood has its own opinion

The response from neighbors, even among neighborhood associations, is mixed.

BZA received more than 90 emails supporting the appeal and opposing the proposed company. One of those emails is from Jay H. Banks, who lives near the Daiquiri World site. He asked the board members to consider whether they would like to build a house next to their house.

I ask you not to approve of the destruction of our neighborhood,” Banks wrote. Daiquiri shops have demonstrated a verifiable history of attracting large crowds.“Business owners cannot always control these people,” he said.

Expressing his concerns often while representing District B on the City Council, Banks wrote: “Even if the owner is sincere in his commitment to try, the issue of land use has nothing to do with the owner but with ownership. If it is accepted and they decide to sell, the next owner may not be willing to not spoil our quality of life.

In an interview after the Aug. 1 hearing, Walker said he had collected more than 100 signatures in support of his restaurant from neighbors near the proposed site.

The 23rd of JulyThe Delachaise Neighborhood Association asked for support on Facebook for the restaurant’s cease-and-desist order.

The Delachaise Neighborhood Association (DNA) is appealing against the Department of Safety and Licensing’s approval of a renewal permit for a ‘standard restaurant’ in 1738 Louisiana Street,” says the Association’s Facebook page.

Three comments were recorded, all in favor of the company.

“I’d rather see an investment in the community than see the old Metro PCS building fall into disrepair,” said Even Troxell. “This place will have grilled seafood, po’boys and drinks. Why the opposition? The city needs income, not empty shops. “

Another member of the DNA Facebook page posted: “I’m all for it, stop this NIMBYism.”

On Nextdoor, there was a heated discussion about the food theme, with some posts citing racism as a suspect factor.

Eagle Eye Resources through BZA

Rendering of the Daiquiri World interior

Delachaise neighborhood association meeting

Before the hearing, Walker and his trustee, Gerald Baptiste, were invited to attend a meeting of the Delachaise Neighborhood Association at Martin’s Winery to answer any questions from members.

Many of the neighbors who disagreed seemed to be most concerned about the building’s name, while Robertson had other concerns.

“[The issue] is the real purpose behind the company, the way it works,” said Robertson. “Who will he be attracted to?” How does this affect the neighborhood?”

Other neighbors expressed concern about children being with their parents while ordering food in the restaurant. the Restaurants in New Orleans were also cited as concerns.

Robertson announced at the end of the meeting that, regardless of the assurances, he would appeal to close the project.

At the meeting, Walker described the restaurant area as a place where diners can watch chefs cook. He said the company will follow the requirements of standard restaurants, including alcohol sales that make up less than half of its monthly revenue.

Walker said the menu will feature traditional New Orleans fare and appetizers. He emphasized that the proposed business name does not invalidate the restaurant’s status.

He said that he felt that he was put on the spot and was given only two hours to attend the meeting and defend the business plan to the main room of the neighbors in the Martin Wine Camp.

The current interior design features a midcentury modern aesthetic with a table set for dinner. Parts of the interior floor plan are still in motion as Walker and his wife and partner, attorney Yasha Clark, walk by.

After the Aug. 1 BZA meeting, Walker said He is happy with the ruling and will continue to gather support.

The BZA will meet at the National Assembly on September 12 at 10 am.