Jess & Erin Bourgeois

Jess & Erin Bourgeois

Owners, Lula Restaurant-Distillery

What better time to launch the city’s first restaurant-distillery than Mardi Gras, when spirits are top of mind for many? That’s especially true if your establishment occupies a prime spot along the St. Charles Avenue parade route.

For Lula Restaurant-Distillery’s owners (husband-and-wife team Jess and Erin Bourgeois along with co-owner Bear Caffery), this year’s February 13 opening was a long-awaited step in the challenging journey to bring something new to the city’s drinking and dining scene, which has seen an uptick in breweries and distilleries, but no restaurant-distilleries.

After encountering similar concepts while traveling out West, Jess Bourgeois recalls thinking, “Why not New Orleans?” It took nearly three years to bring this vision to life, during which the couple had to push for a new state law to permit a restaurant/micro-distillery. “It was on the last day of the legislative session [in 2015] that they approved our bill,” says Erin Bourgeois. “That was a nail biter!”

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With that hurdle cleared, the team transformed the former Halpern’s Furniture store in the Lower Garden District into a full-service restaurant and distillery, where they produce their own vodka, rum and gin using Louisiana sugarcane products. Lula does not distribute its liquor, but bottles are available for purchase onsite. Chef/distiller Jess Bourgeois — veteran of the Commander’s Palace kitchen as well as a restaurant group in Birmingham, Alabama — oversees the restaurant operations, while Erin handles public relations, marketing and private dining.

“We have a unique product,” says Jess Bourgeois. “It’s a lot of hard work, and it looks like it’s paying off.”


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