Around Town

Rock ’n’ Bowl buys old Whitney building Downtown

by Walter Pierce and Leslie Turk

The iconic New Orleans bowling alley-slash-live music venue is expected to announce plans next month for expansion to Lafayette.

Rock ’n’ Bowl is coming to Lafayette — or, at least, the folks who own and operate the popular venue in New Orleans will be opening a new venture in the old Whitney Bank building Downtown. The deal closed Thursday and, according to real estate agent Al Lopez of Keaty Real Estate, plans for the new venture will be announced in January. Lopez represented Rock ’n’ Bowl in the transaction.

"Anything that these guys to do, it’s first class,” Lopez tells ABiz. “I think it’ll be some time in January when we’ll probably get together with the Downtown people and the mayor and do a formal unveiling of the project, but we’re working diligently now on the plans.”

The sale price of the building hasn’t been disclosed, but ABiz has learned through a source within the local real estate industry that the asking price was $3.5 million. ABiz reported in March of 2015 that the property, located at 911 Lee Ave., was purchased by Baton Rouge-based Pecan Grove Commercial Properties for $1.9 million.

The original Rock ’n’ Bowl opened in New Orleans in 1989. It started as simply a bowling alley, but began offering live zydeco music on Thursday nights, according to a history of the club by owner John Blancher on the venue’s website. The zydeco nights took off immediately, and the concept of live music in a bowling alley was born. Rock ’n’ Bowl has since become a mainstay of the New Orleans music scene, supporting popular local acts as well as touring bands.

Now, at this writing, two popular New Orleans brands will anchor either end of Jefferson Street and Downtown’s nightlife district: the Rock ’n’ Bowl on the south end and Dat Dog, a hot dog purveyor that is renovating the old Times of Acadiana building on the north end of Jefferson at Cypress Street adjacent to the underpass.

“We’ve been trying to bring them here ever since [Hurricane] Katrina,” Lopez says of Rock ’n’ Bowl. “I think it’s going to be quite interesting, I’ll just say that. I think it’s going to help revitalize the Downtown area.”

Questions submitted to Rock ’n’ Bowl were not immediately answered. We will update this story when the company responds.