Central City BBQ team building Tex Mex restaurant in Metairie
By: Lance Traweek, Managing Editor Reporter November 30, 2022 0
The team behind Central City BBQ plans to open Las Cruces Tex Mex in late summer 2023 in Old Metairie.
The restaurant and bar will have a family-friendly vibe, with indoor and outdoor seating for 300 customers, margaritas and “true Tex Mex,” said Marc Bonifacic, managing member. It’s under construction at 2935 Airline Drive, behind Planet Fitness and near North Labarre Road.
“We’ll be smoking our meat, obviously, like Central City BBQ – different flavor profiles,” he said. Central City BBQ opened in 2016 at 1201 S. Rampart St. in New Orleans.
Las Cruces translates to “the crosses.” Bonifacic said the name stems from the railroad crossing in the area and a “crossover from barbecue to Tex Mex, with smoked meat.”
Bonifacic’s partner on the development is Aaron Burgau, who owns Patois and Charlie’s Steakhouse and partnered with Bonifacic on Central City BBQ. The 8,000-square-foot Las Cruces will have 4,000 square feet of outdoor space and will be on a vacant lot they purchased for $1 million.
Bonifacic said construction picked up within the last month after some delays. The restaurant was originally set to open in 2022, but the team ran into issues with getting its pre-fabricated structure delivered.
“The building was a 35-week delivery,” Bonifacic said.
They have since adjusted the site to add more parking, with 67 spots now available. There will also be on-street parking that will allow a total of 100 vehicles to easily park, “which is huge,” he said. “People want to have parking. They don’t want to drive around looking for spots.”
Ryan Gootee General Contractors is handling construction of the $3 million project.
Kevin Haslauer, senior project manager at RGGC, said material delays have created challenges. Additionally, the restaurant’s location is unique in that its power source comes across the railroads.
“To get any kind of power we have to actually work with the railroad company,” Haslauer said. “It’s been a challenge, for sure.”
The structure is a metal building that was fabricated in Texas and will be shipped over and assembled. A hotel was once on the site, and the construction team has discovered old structures underground, he said.
New Orleans-based GOAT (Global Office of Architecture & Taste) served as architect and said the design will be a modern, high-energy dining experience.
“In response to a challenging, post-industrial, triangular site that has remained vacant for years, GOAT developed a massing strategy that maximizes and prioritizes outdoor space for drinking, dining and play,” said Colin VanWingen, GOAT principal and co-founder. “The cruciform plan creates a large, open play yard and outdoor dining space while dividing the interior into two primary functions: dining and events, with the kitchen located at the hinge point between the two forms.”
He said the site uses large expanses of permeable surface and landscaping to hold stormwater and reduce the runoff burden on the neighborhood.
“Native planting will augment the architecture and soften the edges of the post-industrial site, while the back property line is defined by a series of cargo containers, linking it to the railway that runs parallel to it,” VanWingen said. “The palette on the interior is simple and industrial, allowing the custom millwork and lighting elements and the urban-inflected artwork that Central City BBQ is known for to take center stage.”
Las Cruces will be in an area of Old Metairie that has seen new retail, restaurants and other businesses in recent years. It’s located near Ochsner Health’s expanding footprint and the busy intersection of Causeway Boulevard.
Bonifacic said the restaurant will also serve as a large event space, with live music possible in the future.
Others working on the project include Schrenk Endom & Flanagan Consulting Engineers, Synergy Consulting Engineers, and John Pulliam Landscape Architect LLC.