Tiki drinks expert Jeff "Beachbum" Berry (www.beachbumberry.com) expects to open his tiki bar Latitude 29 (www.latitude29nola.com) in the third week of October in the Bienville House Hotel (320 Decatur St., 504-529-2345; www.bienvillehouse.com). Berry and wife Annene Kaye, who will be the general manager, announced several notable staff additions.
Steve Yamada already is signed on to run the bar. Joining him are Hadi Ktiri and Brad Smith. Ktiri made a name for himself locally by crafting cocktails at French 75 at Arnaud's (813 Bienville St., 504-523-5433; www.arnaudsrestaurant.com). Ktiri became the beverage supervisor at The Roosevelt Hotel (130 Roosevelt Way, 504-648-1200; www.therooseveltneworleans.com) in spring of this year. Smith moves to Latitude 29 from Maurepas Foods (3200 Burgundy St., 504-267-0072; www.maurepasfoods.com). It's a return to tiki for Smith, who formerly worked at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge in Minneapolis, Berry says.
"Our bar team is exciting," Berry says. "Some real world-class people."
Chris Shortall will run the kitchen. He's a veteran of Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-297-9777; www.restaurnataugust.com) and Coquette (2800 Magazine St., 504-265-0421; www.coquettenola.com) and is known for running Shortall's BBQ in the kitchen at Twelve Mile Limit (500 S. Telemachus St., 504-488-8114; www.facebook.com/twelve.mile.limit). Latitude 29 is a full-service restaurant offering what it calls PolynAsian food, a mix of Cantonese- and Polynesian-inspired dishes.
"Chris is digging deep into Asian flavors," Berry says. "He's modernizing it and tiki-fying it."
Shortall is joined by sous chef James Rivard, who worked for him at Shortall's BBQ.
Construction continues at Latitude 29, which is taking over the space formerly occupied by Iris. Designer Bosko Hrnjak (www.boskoart.com) is creating tiki pieces, including 6- and 8-foot-tall carved totems that will stand at the restaurant's private dining huts. "Bosko is the guy who revitalized tiki carving in the '90s," Berry says.
The restaurant also has 40 chairs acquired from the Florida Polynesian institution Mai Kai Restaurant. Berry also has a team working with reclaimed wood from a 19th-century Lower Garden District mansion.
"The wood beams are 100 years old," he says. "It's got this aged wood, nautical vibe. It's some really creative stuff."
Berry previously announced that Rhiannon Enlil (Cure, The Erin Rose) will serve as events coordinator.
Latitude 29 will open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.