By Rebecca Docter
Nestled in the old Louie’s Cafe location on State Street lies the State Bar, a name chosen to give homage to its new home. And, despite popular belief, it’s not a play on the State Bar Association.
“We’d love some law students to come drink here, though,” co-owner Shane Courrege said.
When Louie’s announced it was changing locations and the building became available, owners Courrege and Luis Macedo decided to strike while the iron was hot. Originally, Courrege was just going to hire Macedo on as a consultant, but he said it made more sense to go in as partners. The pair have been friends for 15 years and that, coupled with previous restaurant experience (Courrege at Duvic’s and Spanish Moon, Macedo at Pinetta’s European Restaurant), made opening the State Bar together seem like an obvious choice.
The two signed the lease for the 2,000 square foot space in September 2014.
“Shane is all about bars, and I’m all about food, so we put them together,” Macedo said.
With the goal of making the bar a casual environment for Baton Rouge residents, Macedo and Courrege hope to create an easygoing atmosphere for the surrounding community.
Macedo and Courrege, who has craftsmanship experience, tore out the interior of the former diner and began transforming the space a few months ago with the goal of erasing any aesthetic Louie’s left behind. From the menu to the distinctive Louie’s scent, the pair plan to make the space their own.
“We basically started from scratch; the only thing we kept was the office and the bathroom layout,” Courrege said.
Courrege and Macedo have spent the last few months renovating the space, renovating out various elements of the location and replacing them with new fixtures. The wrap-around counter in the middle of the space has been removed, the vintage-inspired flooring has been ripped out, the ceiling has been reframed and, the last reminder of the former restaurant, the hand-painted mural of a day at the beach on the wall, has been painted over.
“It’s going to get covered up with mirrors,” Courrege said. “It’ll still be there, just nobody will be able to see it.”
Along with Joe Judy of Exoteric Furniture, Courrege constructed new seating to replace the old diner tables and chairs and a new bar that runs along the right wall of the building; behind it, the walls have been painted a darker shade to complement the bar’s new, more sophisticated atmosphere. The seating, dark wood built-ins, were handmade, along with the bar.
Luis, who has worked as the head chef at Pinetta’s, will be creating the bar’s cuisine: grilled cheese. Macedo plans to smoke his a variety of his own meats and use different breads and cheeses to create a new spin on the classic comfort food, a restaurant trend that has recently become popular, streaming down the east coast.
“You notice in a lot of places a lot of comfort foods are making a big comeback in restaurants, like fried chicken places, chicken and waffles, that kind of stuff, so grilled cheese seems like a good fit,” Courrege said.
“We wanted to have our own spin on everything,” Macedo added.
A comfort food seemed to fit in with the bar’s overall feel, so Courrege and Macedo decided go ahead with the plan. The two decided to stick with the strategy not only because they believe the sandwiches will sell well, but because they don’t want to compete with the extensive bar food already being served in the area. Grilled cheese seemed like the perfect solution.
“Everything you’ve wanted to do to grilled cheese will be done over here,” Macedo said.
In addition to the small bar menu, State Bar will have a small beer selection along with barrel-aged cocktails and a wide whiskey selection. Drinks and food will range from about $8-$10 to stay competitive with surrounding businesses.
While the bar may occasionally have a DJ or some kind of entertainment scheduled around game days, Courrege said the bar won’t typically play host to bands or performers. It’s main purpose is to be a bar.
“You’ll never pay a cover to come in here,” Courrege said.
State Bar is now hiring for all positions, and applicants can apply Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 2 and 4 p.m. Macedo and Courrege hope to open within the next month.