JAZZIZ magazine plans to enter the live entertainment business with a jazz themed restaurant in New Orleans next spring. The four-floor, 28,000-square-foot building is located at 214 Decatur Street, the current home of instrument retailer Werlein's For Music for which JAZZIZ and a group investors bought for approximately $2 million. The venue will book local and national jazz acts along with crossover mainstream acts.
"I've been looking at jazz clubs for 20 years, and never understood the (traditional) model in a practical business sense," JAZZIZ'z publisher Michael Fagien. "Everyone wants small intimate clubs with big-name acts, and someone with a little business sense can see that's destined for failure unless you create a consumer-friendly attraction and environment."
"If you go to jazz club X in some city, and make reservations and buy tickets, it's pretty pricey. And patrons often say, 'Let's go to eat dinner first somewhere else,' since the club's not known for the food. Or half the patrons might eat and won't enjoy the experience because the sound isn't good. Or the performance is good, but everything else failed. At Jazziz New Orleans, the restaurant is going to drive the business. It's going to be a five-star, top-rated culinary enterprise."
To achieve that goal, Fagien has tapped the esteemed Restaurant August team of owner August "Duke" Robin and executive chef John Besh, who was recently named one of the "10 Best New Chefs in America" by Food & Wine magazine. "Between John and Duke and some other people, we're guaranteed that the restaurant and food is not just taken care of, but it's top quality," says Fagien. "Then we can focus solely on the entertainment and music side of the club."
Concerning concert production, Fagien says: "Coming from a media background, we're going to have the highest quality sound stage, and the ability to capture the performance of those artists on audio and video — after getting appropriate clearances, of course. This gives us an opportunity to work with local acts and becomes a bonus for them, if you will, for the acts who don't get that kind of treatment elsewhere."
"New Orleans is the first club, and the prototype for a model that will be replicated in other cities," he says. "We want to take a New Orleans feel, with New Orleans cuisine, albeit in a modern, commercial, jazz-themed restaurant, and strategically place them in other markets. Being across the street from House of Blues, there will be a nice synergy there, although some people see them as our biggest competition. Maybe they will be, but we're going after a different demographic market, one that's definitely older."