With much sass and debate, the folks hoping to open a Cuban restaurant called Café Habana finally was able to pass the second of three legal hurdles posed by the Vieux Carre Commission. The proposed location of Café Habana is where a long-abandoned gas station currently stands on the corner of Esplanade and North Rampart streets.
However, although the design development has been approved (after multiple revisions), the VCC needs to approve the final construction documents before the process can move to the City Planning Commission. And the opposition, who say that the restaurant would create opportunities for increased crime and doesn't fit the tone of the historic neighborhood, is expected to appeal the decision at next week's City Council meeting.
The money quote comes from Stuart Smith, owner of the law firm of Smith Stag, who threatened legal action if the commission approves the eatery:
"[Café Habana owner] Mr. (Sean) Meenan is going to end up paying his lawyers all the way up to the Supreme Court because that's where this case is headed," Smith said. "The court is going to throw your decision out on the street and you're going to be embarrassed when that happens."
Sean Meenan, owner of the buildings and an adjacent lot on Rampart Street, first submitted plans for the project in June of 2012. So it's likely New Orleans will need to wait a while longer for its Mexican style corn, authentic Cuban sandwiches, and plantains.