As the day progressed at Business Bar, tables alternately filled with mason jars of iced coffee and breakfast sandwiches, then eye-catching cocktails and taco plates. The constant throughout were laptops, notebooks and phone chargers.
Business Bar is the newest addition to Freret Street, and it brings something altogether different to the restaurant row lining this busy Uptown stretch. It was designed to serve the increasingly blended worlds of work time and downtime. It also reflects modern times, conceived and developed during the pandemic as many more professionals and students work remotely.
It’s the latest venture by two young Black female entrepreneurs, Jade Newman and Jessica Robinson. They call the concept a “restaurant and workstation,” imbuing a casual café with amenities tailored to mobile working.
“We’re always looking for what’s missing, what people need, where there’s a void that we can fill,” said Newman. “Part of it is just letting people know this is possible, that there’s a place designed for them where they can feel comfortable popping open the laptop.”
Business Bar opened late in February in the space that had been home to Bar Frances, a bistro that closed early in the pandemic.
Some key pieces to putting the business in Business Bar are high-performing wi-fi, copious outlets and a mix of bar top and counter perches for solo outings and conference tables for small meetings, which are available to reserve. The restaurant will soon offer printing services.
Other parts the concept show more in the programming. Business Bar will soon begin hosting “entrepreneur power hours,” or happy hours with guest speakers with expertise in fields like accounting or finance.
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The concept is built around business, though this venture got its start through a friendship.
Newman and Robinson are New Orleans natives who each started in different careers and came together through their own businesses. Newman runs Southern Girl Property Management, with clients around the country. Robinson is founder of JusTtini Cocktails, a cocktail catering service. They run a small events space together, Space Seven, in the Ninth Ward.
Whatever they do, though, their lives always seem to glimmer between work time, social time and family time.
“We are full of life, we’re social but we’re real businesswomen and we don’t stop,” said Newman.
They’ve seen how networking and sharing knowledge propelled their own careers, and with Business Bar they hope to create a space to facilitate that for others.
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Business Bar is Newman’s first foray into the restaurant business; for Robinson, it’s the fulfillment of a long term goal by different means.
“It’s been my dream to open a bar, but with the pandemic I thought at first maybe that was over,” Robinson said. “But it came down to rebranding, refocusing that dream. This is our purpose, we only had one choice and that was to pursue it.”
Their chef at Business Bar is Lawrence Amour, whose menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner are concise and built around the business theme. Dishes are designed for people who may be multitasking at the table and don’t want anything too heavy or intricate. The dishes also have to be feasible for takeout, an important part of the business plan.
In the morning, there’s oatmeal, avocado toast and breakfast sandwiches with hot sausage, egg and cheese on brioche; lunch and dinner menus have entrée salads, fries and Brussels sprouts, flatbreads, tacos, grilled or fried chicken bites and a lamb chop platter.
The bar mixes drinks that Robinson has developed through JusTini, including a roster dubbed “rise and grind cocktails” made with espresso, a bottomless sparkling wine flight with different juices to mix in and bottled cocktails to go. A frozen cocktail called the CEO is a potent mix of gin, watermelon and rose.
Across the restaurant there’s a mix of gleaming marble and bare wood. A large bar anchors the dining room and the covered patio facing Freret Street feels like a front porch on the bustling street. On this porch though, even when the drinks go around, the laptops are out.
4525 Freret St., 504-581-8667
Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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