Big Easy Group (Nola, Bandit Pizza & Wine, House of George et al) has a knack for opening restaurants with a lively energy. Gonzo Group, (the crew behind Cry Baby, Shotgun Willies and Memphis Slim’s House of Blues) has a habit of delivering rollicking late-night bars where you can party until the early hours. Now, the two hospitality groups are combining their strengths on La Louisiane, a French-style brasserie and basement bar beneath the stately heritage building at 89 King William Street.
In what was once a bank (and, much more recently, sports bar Wing It), La Louisiane will be a temporary concept, running from July until December (the crews are keeping mum on what will happen after that).
“We have had a close relationship with the Gonzo guys for quite some time and have always toyed with the idea of doing a venue together,” Big Easy Group co-founder Oliver Brown tells Broadsheet. “Over the years we have been working hard on perfecting our restaurant concepts and feel that that is where our strengths lie, whereas Gonzo has nailed the whole party bar concept. For us, La Louisiane is a coming together of these two styles. It’s a restaurant delivering world-class food, but hanging around and drinking Martinis until 2am fits equally as well.”
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The owners have pulled French-born head chef Alexis Besseau over from Sydney’s esteemed Restaurant Hubert, following a takeover he did at Yiasou George (now House of George) last year. His menu will centre on classic brasserie dishes such as beef tartare, pate en croute, snails, steak frites and crème brûlée, paired with French wines (and French varietals from Australia) plus some signature and classic cocktails devised by Memphis Slim’s co-owner and bartender Michael Keogh.
The latter includes a Le Lou’s Martini – a Martini served with the elements on the side so you can modify the drink as you go. “Turn your Martini wet, dry, dirty into a Gibson. Garnish it with olives, zest, cocktail onions. Add a fragrance with an in-house herb oil. Whatever you want, fiddle with it at the table until you find your perfect Martini,” says Gonzo Group operations manager Sean Howard.
“The goal of this venue activation is to create something uniquely different for South Australia, something completely immersive,” adds Brown. “We want people to be transported back to 1930s France, with a distinctly modern twist.”
As guests descend into the basement they’ll be transported into a vibrant French brasserie, complete with live jazz music every Friday and Saturday. The moody space (lit by candles) will be a late-night destination: guests will be encouraged to stay on after dinner service for a round (or two) of drinks while the music plays on.
“For us, venues are about escapism,” says Brown. “We want you to walk down the stairs and feel like you could be anywhere else in the world. For us, that’s why we love hospitality, we have the ability to deliver an experience-based product, something that transports you out of the daily grind of life, something that evokes feelings. Food, music, atmosphere all pull on memories, reminding you of something or somewhere else and we love playing up to that aspect of what we do.”
La Louisiane is set to open on July 1 2023 for walk-ins only.