Is a Bad Idea Headed to the Marigny?

There is a place at the corner of Poydras and Loyola called Dave & Buster’s. It’s the sort of place that reminds you of Reno, Nevada, if Reno, Nevada, were on the Mississippi coast.  

There are no windows, they sell alcohol, and they have a lot of arcade games that are more efficient at taking your money than any slot machine. It is loud, and there are sports on the television monitors that rim the bar.

The kids like it for birthday parties, and that is important. I do not begrudge anyone who hosts a birthday party there. Kids birthday parties are going to be loud wherever you are, and at least at Dave & Buster’s, I can have a beer while I watch the children play arcade games.

Given all of that, I was heartened to learn that there will soon be an “adult” version of Dave & Buster’s in town. It’s going to be called “Emporium Arcade Bar,” because “Horrific Experience Bar” was taken.

Here is a quote by owner Danny Marks from The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate story: “I have very deep ties to the city, living there for a decade before and after Katrina,” he said. “I have many great friends here who are helping participate in the project. Mostly, I love New Orleans and specifically the general Marigny/St. Roch/Bywater area and am really excited to bring this to the city.”

The TP article continues, “After graduating from university, the Marks brothers opened their first venue in Chicago in 2012 with the idea of combining the quintessential elements of a college hangout. Their bars featured a wide selection of liquors, craft and big-brand beers, as well as a cocktail menu. Entertainment would consist of live bands or DJs, some traditional pub games like pool and darts, as well as vintage arcade and modern video games. The ambiance is modern, augmented by commissioned art works, typically urban-themed, like graffiti.”

Like graffiti, but without the vandalism, I guess?

I don’t want to use the term “cultural appropriation” because I am a cis-gendered white male, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a white man pretending to not be a duck.

We need more venues in New Orleans that remind people of Gulf Coast casinos, so I’m really excited for this place. I can only imagine how great the food is going to be, and I hope I have a chance to sample it in the six months it will be open.

Does that sound cynical? Because it is, I guess, but who thinks this is a good idea? Tulane graduates who understand New Orleans enough to know where to open a venue to make a buck but never really understood New Orleans at all?

I will be happy to be proved wrong if the place is awesome and people dig it. I am sure it will be popular among the people in the neighborhood who moved to New Orleans following Katrina. I am sure that the people who own and operate the place thought they were brave pioneers when they bought the property, and I hope they congratulate themselves on “bringing back” that part of town by opening a video arcade with booze.

And I write this as the city is in a crisis over the police force and there’s a recall petition that I suspect is going to get the necessary votes. Everything is more expensive at the grocery and I know we all need to enjoy life but forgive me for not celebrating the opening of a bar/arcade in the Marigny/Bywater/Gentrificilly.


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