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A Big-Deal Charleston Restaurateur Is Expanding to New Orleans

Brooks Reitz’s new Esplanade Avenue restaurant, slated to open this year, will have a little English flair and a cozy pub vibe

The exterior of a blue house with pillars and a porch, and a leafy yard and patio in front of it.
The Esplanade Avenue spot, once home to Nonna Mia pizzeria.
Brooks Reitz
Justine Jones is the editor of Eater Twin Cities.

Charleston restaurateur Brooks Reitz is expanding to New Orleans and opening a restaurant in the city’s Bayou St. John neighborhood, at 3125 Esplanade Avenue. The yet-to-be-named restaurant, Reitz’s fourth, will be a “bar and dining room with an ‘English accent’” and a cozy pub feel, Reitz says. It’s set to open in late spring or early summer of this year.

Reitz and his New Orleans-based business partners, Tim Mink and Andrew Bell, signed the lease on the Esplanade property — formerly home to the Post, and Nonna Mia pizzeria before that — this February. Two longtime Charleston employees, Adam Gainer and Charlotte Marcinko, are coming on as owners.

Reitz has spent a fair amount of time in New Orleans. He says the city reminds him of Charleston: the historic architecture, the leafy avenues, the Spanish moss. His new restaurant is a few blocks east of City Park. “It’s in a neighborhood where there are already well-loved, popular, great restaurants,” he says. “We’re just hoping to be a part of what’s already an awesome little neighborhood.”

As for the restaurant’s English bend, Reitz credits the influence of his partners — one an Englishman, one raised in England — and his own Anglophilia. (He was engaged and married in England, and has visited every summer since.)

“It’s a place of tremendous influence and inspiration for us, and when we saw this building, it begged to be a place that had some heavy pub influences,” Reitz says. “I say we’re opening this place with an ‘English accent’ because we’re not opening an English pub — an English pub needs English people. But we’re taking some pieces we love from that type of place.”

Don’t expect to find bangers and mash on the menu. Reitz plans to lean into New Orleans food culture, weaving together a number of culinary influences. But he offers the example of the French House in Soho, the storied pub where chefs Margot and Fergus Henderson cooked French food in a second-floor dining room in the 1990s. “There’s a lot of flexibility within that to explore,” Reitz says. “To me, the defining character of those kinds of places is seasonality, simplicity, and deliciousness.”

Construction is clipping along. Reitz and Mink design all their restaurants themselves — for this one, they plan to rework the bar and outfit the space with new wallpaper, paint, light fixtures, and chairs, evoking the cozy, inviting vibe of a classic pub. Reitz will be posting updates on his Substack and Instagram in the meantime, ahead of the opening later this year.

Correction: February 7, 2024, 3:17 p.m. This article was corrected to reflect that Reitz and Mink, not Bell, design their Charleston restaurants.