by Matt Davis
Mad Men star, Hazelnut shop owner and New Orleans native Bryan Batt showed up at the New Orleans City Council meeting this afternoon a star-struck security guard on the back door didn't even require Batt to go around to the front of the building and through the metal detectors like the rest of us to advocate for longer opening hours on behalf of the Wine Institute of New Orleans (WINO) on Tchoupitoulas Street.
Batt on "TV" in council this afternoon also managed to effortlessly carry off loafers without socks, as well as a pocket handkerchief.
Batt said the wine bar is an "upscale establishment" and "the kind of establishment I'm proud to support."
WINO has been open from 11 am to 10 pm Monday through Thursday and from 11am to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, and from 2 pm to 10 pm on Sundays since it opened in 2007. Council voted unanimously this afternoon to extend opening by two hours each evening, except on Sundays.
Batt was joined in making public testimony by WINO founder Bryan Burkey and Burkey's wife, the Broadway actress Leslie Castay.
"This is not a loud, rambunctious bar," added Isaac Toups, executive chef at the Restaurant Cuvee on Magazine Street.
WINO fans faced opposition from a few of the establishment's neighbors, including Paul St. Raymond, a real estate investor, and attorney David Salley.
"Between 12 and two it's a different clientele," said Salley. "They don't self-police their smokers who are forced out onto the sidewalk; they're not a good neighbor."
Councilmember Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson hit back at the critics.
"We have two native New Orleanians here who have gone to Broadway and made us a very proud city," she said. "They come home by choice and open businesses in our community. Both are very lovely, legal, and honorable businesses, and aren't we lucky ... and we have to treat them like criminals when they come to this discussion?
"If I didn't know these people and I'd listened to this objectively I'd say we were dealing with criminals up here," Clarkson continued, before voting to extend the bar's hours.
"We were railroaded," said St. Raymond, afterwards.
To the disappointment of Mad Men fans, Batt made no statement on the future of his Mad Men character, Sal Romano. (The new season of Mad Men begins July 25 on AMC.)