City Helps Pythian Market Convert Parking Spaces into Outdoor Seating

NEW ORLEANS – The Central Business District has its first official “parklet.” 

The Pythian Market Food Hall at the corner of Gravier Street and Loyola Avenue in the CBD is the first to unveil its new outdoor dining area, made from converted parking spaces, thanks to a $2,000 grant from the City’s Parklet Pilot Program.

“The city provided the barriers for us and donated some lights for the project,” said Pythian managing director Michael DePaolo. “We used the grant money for extra decor, furniture and things like that. … I asked the city for their input on traffic patterns and also took input from potential guests. We wanted to make sure our guests would be comfortable on a main road and also maximize space.”

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The Pythian Market opened in 2018 after a major renovation by Green Coast Enterprises, the Crescent City Community Land Trust and local investment company ERG Enterprises. On its 12,000-square-foot ground floor, it houses 10 independent food vendors and a full bar. Above, there’s 4,000 square feet of special event space.

DePaolo said business has been off by about 50 percent because of the pandemic, so the parklet program is a welcome boost. 

“It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much it will increase revenue,” he said. “But we know for sure it’ll increase guest confidence in the safety of eating here and that’s probably most important. We feel outdoor dining is the safest and our guests feel that as well. It’s more about that than turning tables.”

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The city purchased 200 barriers to protect parklets from nearby traffic. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until the supply runs out. The orange and white plastic structures get the job done but they look more utilitarian than stylish. The hope is that if parklets become a permanent fixture in New Orleans, the plastic barriers will be replaced by restaurants with something more attractive.

“I will build a more permanent structure but I’ll have to wait until I can afford to because during COVID it’s difficult to have extra expenses,” said DePaolo. “If I’m awarded any additional grant money, then I’ll be able to build it sooner. But we are grateful for those barriers because it allowed us to open now and we needed to open now.”

Other parklets are now open at Juan’s Flying Burrito on Baronne Street and the Ruby Slipper Cafe on Magazine. More are coming soon.

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More information about the Parklet Pilot Program:

  • Restaurants and bars are eligible to apply for the permit during the pilot.
  • Fees are waived during the pilot at least through Dec. 31.
  • Pilot will run for as long as there are COVID-related occupancy restrictions in restaurants and bars.
  • The City can provide barricades on a first-come, first-served basis, after which businesses will need to supply their own approved barriers. Barriers will be an eligible expense under the upcoming round of Outdoor Dining grants.
  • Outdoor Dining grants of up to $2,000 are available to interested businesses.

The City will be accepting applications through the City’s One Stop Shop, and by email at Review the Pilot Program application requirements and a step-by-step overview of the process at the City’s website here, and view a copy of the application here.

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