The twitters and the Eater NOLA inbox are all abuzz this afternoon with word that chef Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni is opening a new restaurant on the Lakefront. It's going to be an 18 foot tall "seafood restaurant, market and boating dock" called Duke's on the Basin, and, per the press release, will be the first new construction in the New Basin Canal area since Katrina.
Construction is due to begin at the end of this year, with the opening due in May of next year. For more, check out the press release below. (And, lagniappe for history nerds: The release has a fun history of the New Basin Canal.)
The press release:
New Orleans, LA (October 18, 2011) — Chef Duke LoCicero, the renowned chef/proprietor of award-winning Café Giovanni located in the French Quarter, announces the opening of his second dining destination, aptly named Duke’s on the Basin: A Seafood Camp. Located at 7842 Lakeshore Dr. (next to Landry’s), the 18-foot-high groundbreaking seafood restaurant, market and boating dock marks the first new construction located in the old New Basin Canal section of New Orleans’ famous Lakefront area since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the waterfront properties.
Construction on the 4,000-square-foot restaurant and 375-foot long fuel dock — complete with a store that will sell boating supplies, snacks, drinks, ice, etc.— is set to begin by the end of 2011 and is expected to be complete by the end if of May 2012. In addition to the casual, family-style restaurant, which will have a definitive Louisiana seafood focus, the structure will house an open-air shellfish and fish market featuring seafood caught by local fishermen. The market, which will operate three days per week, will be housed beneath the restaurant, where seafood boils and chef cooking demonstrations will also take place.
“This is one of the most exciting ventures in Lakeview since Hurricane Katrina,” said LoCicero. “The Lakefront has always been a pivotal player in New Orleans history, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help restore the area to its former glory. This new destination will help to revitalize the Lakefront and ensure that the historical area will once again thrive and continue to bring happiness to locals for generations to come,” he added.
Duke’s on the Basin will pay homage to the many beloved restaurants that called the area home including Fitzgerald's, Swanson's and Bruning's. The menu of moderately priced items will feature “old-style, classic” New Orleans seafood dishes with a slight contemporary touch; grilled, fried and broiled seafood (including five different Louisiana fish offerings daily), boiled seafood, a oyster/cold shellfish bar, traditional New Orleans po-boys, soups, salads and more. Comfortable and unassuming, the interior walls will be adorned with historical photographs of the popular area, as well as “camp” décor, making it an ideal family destination. Beneath the raised structure, picnic tables and ceiling fans will offer a relaxed, homey feel.
History of the New Basin Canal:
Constructed by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company, the New Basin Canal reached the Lake at West End, a resort area that flourished from the 1880s to around 1920. Sixty feet wide and six feet deep, the Canal was dug by hand between 1831 and 1835. Well into the 20th century, schooners brought goods including food and building materials from across Lake Pontchartrain into the heart of the city by way of the New Basin Canal. In addition to being commercially and economically robust, the canal was also used for improving drainage to neighboring areas. Upon the opening of the Industrial Canal in 1923, the New Basin Canal became somewhat obsolete and in 1937-1938 much of the waterway was filled in. During the 1950s, the remaining section — except for the half-mile long stretch at the lakefront, which today remains a yachting harbor — was filled in to create the Pontchartrain Expressway and West End Boulevard.
[Photo: Café Giovanni]