A roadblock preventing a new lounge from opening served as a blessing in disguise as its owners turned the business venture into something better for the community – a restaurant.
Prior to the pandemic reaching Hammond, Derrick Baham and Warren Carey attempted to open an ages 25-and-up lounge in the city called The Blvd. Lounge and Grill, where business owners and members of the working class could come to socialize and network. The new business venture was barred from opening as intended on North Morrison Boulevard after failing to receive the high- and low-alcohol permit needed to operate as a lounge.
“Our whole business plan had to be altered because we were looking at social networking for business owners and the working class,” Baham said. “People like to socialize with a glass of wine [etc.].”
Baham and Carey never expected to be owners of the restaurant, but after putting their heads together, turning the lounge space into a full-fledged restaurant seemed like the right way to go. They could keep the theme they were trying to offer the Hammond community, but they were going to have to change how they executed it.
“We’re still going to do the socialize part where people can grab something to eat or a juice or salad and talk about business,” Baham said. “It is something people can grab something to eat and socialize with a small, intimate feeling.”
The difference between plans meant more staff, more kitchen equipment and figuring out logistics. The owners’ other business, a barbershop located in the same shopping center, closed during the Stay at Home order, so the two entrepreneurs used this time to revamp their business plan.
They figured out the type of food they wanted to serve and created a full menu, bringing in more kitchen equipment to accommodate the expanded menu they would now offer. More staff had to be hired, including front end clerks and cooks.
The Blvd. Lounge and Grill has since opened as a strictly curbside restaurant at 46289 N Morrison Blvd. It is set to open for the sit down socializing aspect of the business model after the pandemic.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Baham said. “We’re having a great amount of support from the community; it’s definitely a blessing.”
Tangipahoa Parish Council did not award the alcohol permit to The Blvd. Lounge and Grill because owners failed to get the required approval from all of the property’s neighbors. Some neighbors were against the idea of a bar operating in the neighborhood.
Baham wishes that things had gone differently with the original plan but believes he did everything he could in the end.
“It’s unfair, but it’s life,” he said.