Around Town

Drago’s: La Marquise deal is (supposedly) dead

by Leslie Turk

Oyster bar says negotiations hit an impasse and that it is aggressively pursuing alternate sites.

Negotiations between Drago's and La Marquise have fizzled.

[Editor's Note: Yes, we know you are confused, readers. And this drama is about to be put away in the ridiculous file. As you can see from the story below, in a press release issued Wednesday Drago's did not leave the window open for negotiations to reopen with Parc Lafayette/La Marquise owner Glenn Stewart, but Stewart tells The Daily Advertiser he is "fully prepared to close" the transaction on the building June 15 (although he apparently did not say with whom he would finalize the sale). Ron St. Pierre, the media contact on Wednesday's press release, tells ABiz "nothing has changed" since yesterday's announcement that the deal has fallen apart_.__]_

New Orleans-based Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, famous for its charbroiled oysters, announced in a press release Wednesday afternoon that negotiations with the owners of La Marquise, the stately building located on the corner of Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard in Parc Lafayette, have deadlocked.

In mid-April ABiz was first to alert readers of the plan to locate the restaurant in the 16,000-square-foot building, but today Drago’s says the two parties “were unable to come to terms on the contract of sale by June 15, 2015, thus preventing Drago’s scheduled opening before Thanksgiving.” Drago's officials did not give any further details on the collapse of the agreement but made it clear they are still focused on expanding to Lafayette.

Here's the rest of the statement:

While an agreement could not be reached for this location, owner Tommy Cvitanovich reaffirmed that Drago’s remains committed to opening a restaurant in Lafayette. “I am certainly disappointed that we were not able to reach an expedient agreement between the property owners and our real estate partners for this location. We’ve invested a significant amount of time and resources in the design of that building because we felt this deal would get done. We were excited to have Drago’s at arguably one of, if not the best location in Lafayette. Unfortunately, complications in negotiations made our opening timeline unattainable. While it is frustrating that we will be delayed, we are aggressively exploring alternative locations suitable to bringing Drago’s Seafood Restaurant to Lafayette.”

The emphasis on the opening timeline is to ensure the Lafayette location is properly staffed and trained to exceed guests’ expectations during the grand opening and the peak holiday season, without requiring additional resources that could diminish the guest experience at other Drago’s locations during the busiest season of the year. Rather than compromise standards, the decision was made to delay the project.

Drago’s has three restaurants — the original in Metairie (opened in 1969), a location in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside on Poydras Street (2007) and one in Jackson, Miss. (December 2014).