DON DURLEY KNOWS a little bit about the restaurant and bar business. He’s been in it for more than 40 years.
For the last 12 years he’s been running the popular and highly acclaimed Lagniappe restaurant downtown. Now he’s got another project in the works.
He’s calling a “neighborhood cocktail bar.” It’ll be located on the site of a former strip mall in south Marquette that used to house a laundromat and a couple of other shops just off of US-41. Workers have been busy there in recent weeks tearing down just about everything inside the four walls.
Plenty of work to do and there’s no specific timetable for finishing, at least none that Durley is willing to disclose.
And very few details.
Except this. “I live in south Marquette,” he says, “just two blocks away (from the site). I’ve talked to a lot of people and they want a bar they can walk to. A neighborhood bar. We don’t have one here.”
He promises there will be drinks for the budget-minded, as well as plenty of the high-end stuff.
But it’s a huge space, and Durley’s known for his food (Cajun and Creole at Lagniappe, and gourmet dining in earlier gigs) so it’s natural to assume that he’ll be featuring food at the new establishment. True, he says, but the overall theme and the menu are still being tweaked. Beyond that, he’s saying nothing.
He’s got a name in mind for the place but he’s not talking about it. An opening date? Don’t even ask.
He bought the strip mall almost three years ago, and he’s been planning and working on the project ever since. Construction problems. A leaky roof. Bathrooms and a kitchen to be installed. Zoning concerns. Permits.
But it’s coming along, slowly. And when it’s finally up and running, he’s convinced he’ll be meeting the needs and desires of his long underserved neighbors in south Marquette, along with the thousands of motorists who will be driving by the “neighborhood bar” every day on US-41.
Oh, one more thing, and this is intriguing. Durley says the new place will “blow your mind.” But then he reconsiders his wording and says maybe that sounds too boastful. He’s more comfortable saying it will be different, and Marquette’s going to like it.
Now, we’ll all just have to wait for it.
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