Neighbors wary of local eatery’s precedent

A jazzy new restaurant is having trouble escaping its rock-and-roll past as Foggy Bottom neighbors continue to harp on the venue.

Bayou opened in December and despite installing a soundproof wall, it’s facing opposition from some neighbors who fear the restaurant will slip back into its noisy past.

While Rookery, the former restaurant at the site, offered a louder, rock-and-roll-themed environment, Bayou has a seafood-rich menu and features live jazz performances four nights a week. The owners have repeatedly pledged to maintain a good relationship with the community.

Complaints about noise – sometimes caused by bands leaving out the rear exit – led owner Bo Blair and his business partner, Jason York, to build a $7,000 soundproof wall. York said the restaurant has not received a single noise complaint since the construction, and said he thinks Bayou’s new music choices have also kept late-night sound down.

“Our type of music is different now… before, drums were always a big issue,” York said.

York and Blair told residents last month that a new Bayou policy also requires bands to exit through the front door at the end of the night instead of the back door, which is closer to residences.

Longtime resident Barbara Kahlow said she’s opposed to the restaurant’s choice of modern paint color and sign design.

“When you buy a landmark building, you have to think about it… the blue is ridiculous,” Kahlow said.

With its historic building status, Bayou and its neighbors face building code restrictions. Before any major change is made to the exterior, special approval must be made. ANC Chair Rebecca Coder said, however, that there is no restriction on sign color, and that it is “definitely within historic preservation guidelines.”

As of now, York said he and Blair are happy with their sign and overall new look, and are not planning changes in the near future.

They decided to alter the theme of their eatery last year in an effort to create something “a little more substantial,” York said.

York, who studied at Tulane University in New Orleans, said he has always loved Creole cooking, as has Bayou’s head chef, who has also spent time in the South.

Po’boy sandwiches, a Louisiana staple, can be found on the menu along with dishes like seafood stew. Beers from New Orleans-based Abita Brewing Company are also featured.

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