New Owner of ‘Bite-Sized’ Resort Has an Hunger for More | Louisiana News

By ANTHONY MCAULEY, The Moments-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Robert Thompson, who not too long ago bought The Frenchmen Lodge in the Marigny, claims the offbeat inn is a “good, bite-sized” commence for the lengthy-time restaurateur’s plan to accumulate a portfolio of equivalent boutique attributes in the Crescent Town.

The acquisition is the newest in a craze by hoteliers angling for more compact lodges, often in refurbished historic properties, aimed at Millennials and Gen-Z. More youthful travelers, developers say, are wanting for destinations that offer you some thing distinctive from the regular huge-brand hotels. Other modern examples consist of The Saint on Canal, The Lodge Saint Vincent in the Back garden District, and Hotel Peter & Paul, a converted church in the Marigny.

Thompson procured the 27-home lodge at 417 Frenchmen Avenue for an undisclosed sum from an additional team of formidable lodge owners: Alex Ramirez, Jayson Seidman and Zach Kupperman, who experienced refurbished the The Drifter motel on Tulane Avenue, between other jobs.

They had owned The Frenchmen only due to the fact 2018, possessing bought it from Hugh Stiel, who now owns The Royal Frenchmen Resort Bar and Gallery at the Washington Square conclusion of Frenchmen Avenue.

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Thompson ideas a total renovation and expects to re-open in the fourth quarter of this calendar year.

Thompson is relocating into the hotel business possessing resigned as CEO previous August from the Punch Bowl Social chain of “eatertainment” venues that he’d started and created up about the preceding dozen a long time. The venues, which provide bowling lanes, arcade online games, darts, ping pong and karaoke rooms to draw shoppers to its dining places and bars, had grown to 20 stores across the state until eventually the pandemic brought progress to a swift halt.

A Mississippi native, Thompson started in the restaurant small business in Denver in the mid-1990s. He and his personal equity backers partly offered the Punch Bowl Social chain in 2019, when the company that owns the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain acquired a minority stake for $140 million.

He stepped away from Punch Bowl past August, several months in advance of the organization declared personal bankruptcy to fend off lenders. Thompson mentioned he wanted a fresh start for himself and his younger household and chose New Orleans.

“I just expended previous 10 many years expanding an company that was executing $190 million run fee of revenue in 2019 and that demanded me to expend 50{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146}-to-60{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} of my time on the street,” said Thompson. “I’ve got a few young young children and just as a result of COVID I got utilized to remaining all around them once more, and I made a decision I’m just not likely to live like that any more.”

He claimed New Orleans, “which has been my favored city because I was a child,” is a small town with an outsized hospitality market, which signifies he has the possibility to build a large organization listed here with out having to go away the metropolis.

The Frenchmen Resort, which is at the bustling Esplanade Avenue conclusion of Frenchmen Road, was fashioned from a few previous creole cottages that had been initially developed in 1860.

Thompson claimed that he strategies to leave the façade unchanged, apart from a new paint position, but inside “every inch of each individual place will be upgraded.”

He suggests he is aiming for a younger and hip vibe, but also to provide it a tiny a lot more upmarket than its present impression.

“It’s never ever really been brought to its whole prospective as it relates to the beverage programming,” Thompson reckons. “We’ll beef up the two bars and carry them into a contemporary period. Commonly, I assume there is a minimal specialized niche for a marginally far more innovative working experience on Frenchmen Road. We want to turn that dial a very little little bit with a craft beverage application and have live jazz tunes in the floor floor bar.”

He reported that The Frenchmen is just a begin as he eyes other very similar and a bit much larger resorts in a variety of sections of town, together with Uptown in which he’s living and has been scoping out chances.

“I’m coming into lodges with the standpoint of a restaurateur,” Thompson claimed. “We’re going to do much more than just The Frenchmen. I’m chatting to some groups that need aid with their food and beverage systems, also searching at obtaining additional lodges in this article in New Orleans, some related sized to The Frenchmen, some much larger.”

The primary variation in his technique from traditional resort operators, he mentioned, is that he’ll be aiming to make at the very least 50{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} of product sales from the food items and beverage operation, which is about two times what motels usually see. That will mean making sites that attract primarily locals instead than relying on tourists.

“I don’t see the globe finding thrilled to have a different global model that’s dropped on the town and the rooms are just nice and clear,” Thompson explained. “People come to New Orleans for the tradition, to immerse in the foodstuff and the beverages and the reside audio and the activities.

“I’m making an attempt to build these working experience for locals as much if not far more than the visitors,” he said.

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