The rich architectural history of New Orleans stands in plain sight on our streets and sidewalks, but sometimes, it’s a bit hidden. The Dovetail Bar is a perfect example. Dovetail joints, a woodworking skill, are scattered around the 99-year-old former furniture showroom built in the early 1920s. Now, the building has a new life as a hotel and bar paying its respects to the original craftsman.
Built in 1923 by Joseph Paul Schaeffer, the J.P. Schaeffer Furniture Company held the space until the 1940s, and then over the decades, the building was various other furniture stores, like Joy's Furniture in the 1960s. During the 1990s, it eventually fell vacant.
Architects Walter Antin and Ariana Rinderknecht saw the beauty in the vacant property that was almost destroyed through years of abandonment, sitting behind the Saenger Theatre. The site also sustained damage from the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel site which sat across the street.
The husband and wife architect team are creators and owners of The Dovetail Bar, a new cocktail lounge and coffee bar tucked inside The Schaeffer Hotel (which they also own) on N. Rampart Street at Iberville. The name of the bar was inspired by the architecture technique of dovetail joinery, a wooden joint used in furniture building without nails or screws.
The couple also owns and operates WAAR Design, a design firm dedicated to preserving the historical value of New Orleans architecture. They have worked on projects for Tulane School of Social Work, Sucre, The Black Duck Bar (inside of the Palace Café), and the St. James Cheese Company.
“As an architect I believe in maintaining the spirit of the building,” said Rinderknecht. “I always design with a very conceptual approach.”
Rinderknecht says since they live close by, she and her husband had become enamored with the once vacant building, and thought one day they would transform it to its former glory, but with a new use. The couple always envisioned having a food & beverage component to their boutique hotel, and, as admirers of J.P. Schaeffer, knew they wanted the concept to be architecturally inspired.
Dovetail offers a relaxed space for hotel guests to start their day with a coffee, or call it a night with a crafted cocktail. The specialty cocktail menu is as handcrafted as the building is. Rinderknecht and her husband worked with a bar team to create drinks closely tied to joinery techniques, like the rabbet spritz, dado collins, pocket joint, tongue & groove and mortise & tenon.
Locals in the area enjoy having a place where they can casually meet with friends, but still be part of a curated atmosphere. Rinderknecht was heavily involved in the design process, which involved hand selecting timber to repurpose left from the original structure.
“It’s quite different, and very casual,” Rinderknecht said. “We chose color, and repurposed wood from the original building. It was such incredible quality.”
Upon first glance, the name of the bar brings to mind a dove. Many people who aren’t familiar with carpentry techniques hear the name ‘dovetail’ and truly think of the tail on a dove. Coincidentally, the joinery term is named after the resemblance to a dove’s tail.
This woodworking method even inspired the bar’s logo. Look long enough and you’ll see the merging of two dovetail joints, something Rinderknecht intentionally created, saying, “once you know the history, it pops out at you.”
The two-day LRA marketplace is a hub of creativity and possibilities
Exhibitors at the LRA Showcase have the opportunity to increase brand awareness, get in front of their target market, speak directly with decision makers and allow customers to touch, taste, feel and experience their products and services. This two-day marketplace sets the standard as the top regional restaurant show in the country, making it special for exhibitors that attend every year. It provides a one-stop shopping resource for thousands of foodservice professionals looking for new suppliers.
One annual exhibitor is the Certified Louisiana Program from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Commissioner Mike Strain is head of this unique program designed to promote Louisiana made, grown, manufactured or processed products that are aimed at enhancing and promoting Louisiana’s agricultural industry.
“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is excited to bring many of our Certified Louisiana companies to the LRA Showcase again this year,” Strain said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to help connect our unique and local Certified Louisiana products with many restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and more.”
Strain says “you’re getting the very best” when you buy a Certified Louisiana product. Members of the program range from sauces, craft beers and wines, generational seafood farmers, meats and seasoning blends. One Certified Louisiana product found just the right partnership at the showcase last year.
Melissa ‘T-Beaux’ Anderson, CEO and founder of T-Beaux’s Seasoned Gumbo Roux & Gravy Base, was an exhibitor at the showcase last year as part of a group of Certified Louisiana food entrepreneurs. She found her perfect match with Acadian Kitchens®, making her pre-seasoned gumbo roux the first of its kind. Now, her product is being sold in Rouses grocery stores from Louisiana to Alabama, with future plans of being sold nationwide.
When Anderson got the call to be a part of the LRA Showcase, she quickly formulated a plan to brand her product.
“I jumped on the opportunity and prepared in less than two weeks,” Anderson said. “My main goal was to find a co-brand partnership through another Louisiana company that could help supply the demand that I was currently seeing with my product.”
Anderson enjoyed using her booth space to place her Creole heritage in the spotlight. She knew there were no guarantees, but she was also grateful knowing the LRA was giving her a huge opportunity to market her brand.
“The atmosphere, the food, and just the whole convention and purpose was truly a life-changing experience,” Anderson said. “All the tools were given to me right there to network and market.
Anderson’s positive attitude lent her a hand in building the valuable connections with her new co-branded partnership. When she crossed paths with Acadian Kitchens®, she knew she found something good.
“A partnership with Acadian Kitchens stood out more than the others because our vision and ideas ran parallel to each other,” said Anderson.
Acadian Kitchens® is a food product supplier, fusing authentic and diverse tastes of Louisiana's Creole and Cajun cultures to bring traditional, bold, hand-crafted flavors to Louisiana and beyond.
Ryan Schemmel, the Chief Commercial Officer for Acadian Kitchens®, says this is their first ever co-branded partnership and they’re very excited about Anderson’s ideas. When they crossed paths at the showcase, Schemmel knew from their conversation she had a great product and Acadian Kitchens could help produce and distribute her recipe.
“She presents well, she is very personable and authentic, and brands well,” Schemmel said. “All of that brings a whole new level to the product.”
Their brands include Acadian Kitchens®, Ragin' Cajun® & Cajun's Choice®. Anderson’s product is housed under the Ragin' Cajun® brand.
“We think she can represent the company well,” said Schemmel. “She’s gone all in with us and we’ve gone all in with her.”
Anderson, a Lafayette native, has worked in the health care industry as surgical nurse, turned audit quality nurse. The former Mrs. Louisiana USA Ambassador 2017 got the idea to create her own pre-seasoned roux after a trip to Florida with her pageant sisters.
Not being from Louisiana, the girls wanted to eat gumbo Anderson says, so she searched Orlando for the proper ingredients but came up empty handed. She then moved to ordering some pre-made roux online, but when the package was delivered, both jars were broken. This began her process of finding just the right seasoning blend to create her pre-seasoned roux.
“Being the first woman-owned seasoned gumbo roux company, I am making history,” said Anderson. “Creole and Cajun culture is all around the world, not just Louisiana.”
Before being in the showcase, Anderson’s easy-to-prepare gumbo roux was already being sold online on her website, and in local independent grocery stores in Lafayette. It then expanded into the Rouses grocery stores in the Southern region, including Lafayette, New Iberia, Youngsville, Lake Charles and Sulphur. The showcase was her big break into the industry, an industry she wanted to be a part of to help provide a future for her family.
“My inspiration of making the gumbo was always to make cooking easy for other people to enjoy gumbo around the world,” said Anderson. “We are in a new age where we all try to juggle work and home life and still keeping in mind the family dinner concept. I wanted to create something that anyone can go home and prepare on an average weeknight.”
For more information about being an exhibitor or attendee at the LRA Showcase 2022, visit our Showcase page. Booth space is selling quick, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Registration for attendees opens soon, stay tuned to our social media channels for more information. You won't want to miss it!
Brigtsen’s Restaurant has called Dante Street home since 1986. The contemporary Louisiana restaurant in the Uptown Riverbend neighborhood recently celebrated its 36th anniversary, and this month they celebrate a 34-year membership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association. On top of these two milestones, Chef Brigtsen is adding a third by receiving the 2022 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award, presented by the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience.
Chef Brigtsen recalls a fond memory of Ella Brennan that still inspires him today. Back when it was Brennan’s Vieux Carre Restaurant, she would knock door-to-door on neighboring restaurants and bars to foster a strong restaurant community.
“She felt that if they came together and marketed themselves as a group, good things would happen. It wasn’t about competition, but community,” Chef Brigtsen said. “The LRA is a prime example of how productive and powerful we can be when we stand together. Their representation in our State Legislature and the U.S. Congress has been instrumental in keeping our industry a vital part of our culture and economy.”
A membership with the LRA has many benefits for business owners, like the Workers’ Compensation Program. This program has served as the model for other restaurant association funds throughout the country. Their diligent claims administration, expert loss prevention, and conservative underwriting make the program successful.
“The LRA Workers’ Compensation Program has been an affordable way to protect our staff,” said Chef Brigtsen. “We receive dividends every year for maintaining safety in our workplace.”
The LRA Education Foundation promotes the restaurant industry as a career choice for young students seeking a rewarding career in culinary and hospitality. Chef Brigtsen has been involved with the Education Foundation for years, mentoring ProStart graduates who wish to follow in his footsteps. His passion is teaching and sharing through food. For 15 years, he taught public cooking classes at the New Orleans Cooking Experience, sharing his love for America’s greatest regional cuisine.
He also teaches Contemporary Creole/Acadian cuisine as Adjunct Professor at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. He serves as the inaugural Chef-in-Residence for the Culinary Arts program at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).
“The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award is the pinnacle of my 50-year career,” said Chef Brigtsen. “The fact that I started out at Commander’s Palace as a young apprentice makes it all the more meaningful.”
All three of these significant life events have deepened Chef Brigtsen’s love for the state of Louisiana, and the hospitality industry that is so deeply rooted in New Orleans.
“Miss Ella and Chef Paul Prudhomme, who hired me there, have been the two major influences in my professional life,” Chef Brigtsen said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world. To be a Chef in America’s greatest food city, and contribute to its evolving culture, has been a distinct privilege. I am deeply grateful.”
The Garden District’s Tavern-Style Bar Unveils New Menu & Music Lineup
Nestled on the ground floor of New Orleans’ charming Pontchartrain Hotel, the Bayou Bar is a convivial gathering place perfect for locals and visitors alike. The casual tavern-style bar is filled with history and memories including serving as a drinking den for both Sinatra and Capote and being the locale where the New Orleans Saints football franchise was christened in 1966. Now, the cozy 40-seat bar has just unveiled a brand-new menu, along with an expanded live music program, featuring a rotating roster of local artists every night from Tuesday through Saturday (performance times vary).
Under the direction of Chef/Co-owner Brian Landry, new eats at Bayou Bar showcase Louisiana’s bounty of seasonal ingredients. New appetizers include Crawfish Cornbread with lemon, cherry peppers and sherry vinegar; Citrus & Chili Seared Tuna with olive mix and preserved lemon; and Tuna Rillettes with capers, lemon, mayonnaise and crackers. Mainplate additions include Poisson en Papillote – beautiful filets of fresh seasonal fish baked in parchment and served with fingerling potatoes, charred corn and crab boil butter and Soft-Shell Crab BLT with pork belly, lettuce, tomato and white remoulade. Imbibers will enjoy Bayou Bar’s extensive whiskey selection and refreshing craft cocktails like the Endless Summer – reposado tequila, coconut, cucumber and lemon shrub and A Frosé by Any Other Name – vodka, Cocchi Americano, orange liqueur, apricot and strawberry.
Bayou Bar has captured the attention of locals and visitors for its live music program, featuring some of the city’s most talented artists. With a rollicking Steinway, stellar acoustics, and a warm, intimate vibe, Bayou Bar is the perfect spot to gather with friends and enjoy a night of music. Performances take place Tuesday – Sunday; run three full hours with no cover charge and include local artists like Peter Harris, David Torkanowsky, Jordan Anderson and others. For full music lineup and performance times, please visit Bayou Bar Music Calendar.
Bayou Bar is located at Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 Saint Charles Avenue in New Orleans’ Garden District and is open Sunday - Thursday 11AM – 11PM; Friday and Saturday 11AM – Midnight. For general information, please call (504) 323-1456 or visit www.bayoubarneworleans.com
One of the LRA's newest members is Gail's Fine Ice Cream. Located in Baton Rouge, the ice cream shop from the Hufft Marchand Hospitality (HMH) group is the newest addition to the Perkins Road Overpass District. Co-Founder of Gail's and CEO of HMH Nick Hufft says this opening means the start of something big and new.
What started as a window down the side of HMH's Junior's on Harrison, out in New Orleans, has grown to opening a flagship store in Baton Rouge, primed to be a prototype for future Gail's locations. Hufft says the location is perfect for post-dinner and post-shopping traffic, it's also right on the other side of the I-10 overpass from his other restaurant The Overpass Merchant. This location was too good to pass up, so when the former tenants moved out he was right there to scoop up the property.
"We're already an anchor in the neighborhood, we’ve been there for seven years," said Hufft. "So, I had been eyeing it down for a minute. We looked at the location as --- it's in one of the greatest neighborhoods in Baton Rouge, but really surrounded by commercial businesses, boutiques, and restaurants. Having foot traffic, and not having an ice cream shop in the neighborhood, we thought it would be a great place."
Hufft began his career in restaurants after a novel idea he had one night out at the bars. The LSU graduate from New Orleans wished he had some familiar comforts of home like late night eating at classic New Orleans hot spots Camellia Grill. His ingenuity, and passion for the customer experience, sparked the drive for starting his own food truck. Once known as Moochies Mobile Muchies, many of us now know it as the burger joint Curbside Burgers in Mid-City.
"I walked out of a bar one night and there was no Dough Bowl, no Trolley Stop or Camellia Grill for me to eat at," Hufft said. "So I took it upon myself to change that."
Everything continued to grow for Hufft and his business partner Lon Marchand. The two opened The Overpass Merchant, and then Junior's on Harrison in 2019, with Gail's Fine Ice Cream being served from a window behind the restaurant.
Currently, Gail's is focusing on getting it right in Baton Rouge before expansion continues. They've brought on Rachel Caprera to oversee the ice cream, but her main role is the new pastry chef, overseeing all pastry production for all HMH restaurants. Caprera formerly worked in the kitchens of Commander's Palace, Restaurant August and Willa Jean.
All of the flavors are made in special small batches, ensuring that fine, homemade taste. Gail's flavors range from classic vanilla, to out of the ordinary, yet still familiar, like the little monsters (vanilla bean ice cream dyed azure and studded with bits of Oreos) and lemon berry ice box pie (Hufft's favorite, made with homemade lemon curd and berry compote). Caprera also used true Madagascar vanilla beans for the vanilla ice cream, and extra brute cocoa powder for the milk chocolate flavor. It's all about taking time, and making an effort to use quality and premium ingredients says Hufft.
No matter how old you are, you can enjoy the sweet pleasure of ice cream, Hufft's favorite thing about the dessert. When the school bell rings, kids in the long line are full of joy. Fresh out of the classroom, they patiently wait for their turn to see the offerings of the case. The response to the opening in Baton Rouge has been great he says, with lines out the door every night until 9 pm.
"There’s never a disgruntled customer," Hufft said. "We have yet to see someone not smiling as they enter the building. Ice cream makes everyone happy. Anyone from 3 to 90 years old can enjoy it. We take pride in using fresh ingredients for our batches. We’re happy to be serving these two communities a product that we love making."
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) was established in 1946 to advocate on behalf of the state’s foodservice and hospitality industries.