Answers and Opinions from Wit’s Inn

I had the opportunity to talk with Dennis Schuermann, the owner of Wit’s Inn, about his establishment’s relationship with the surrounding neighborhood, why he believes the area at Canal Boulevard and Carrollton Avenue has become a successful “restaurant row,” and what he believes will be the effect of the new development in the area on the neighborhood and the restaurant row.
Wit’s Inn draws many of its clients from the surrounding neighborhood. Possible reasons for this include the recent trending of smaller, neighborhood bars that accommodate sports fans and serve food, as well as patrons’ desires to avoid DUI’s. As many of the people moving to Mid-City are post graduates, a large portion of the patrons of Wit’s Inn are between the ages of 25 and 40 years.
One of the reasons Mr. Schuermann cited concerning the reason he established Wit’s Inn in the location that he did was that he looks for areas with potential for growth. When Wit’s Inn opened in 1995, this area was not fully populated with restaurants; he believes that the success of his establishment, Venezia, and Brocato’s have possibly influenced the influx of restaurants along the row. Restaurants such as Venezia, Theo’s, and Dominoes that serve similar types of food, such Italian dishes and pizza, provide enough of a different experience to keep competition with each other lower than one would expect. Concerning competition between the restaurants in this row, the chain restaurants do not seem to significantly compete with the more local establishments, and there is a diversity of demographics catered to by individual restaurants; there are family targeted restaurants, 21 and over establishments, dessert and sweets focused shops, and restaurants designed for convenience foods.
Mr. Schuermann sees the development of the vacant strip mall as a potential positive for the neighborhood. He believes that the placement of new businesses could bring facilities to the neighborhood that might attract more residents to the area, and that Winn-Dixie will be a good competitor of Rouses. He does not see the food businesses that intend to open in the developing area as a severe threat; the area is not saturated with restaurants as is the Canal and Carrollton row. A major concern with the development is whether parking will be addressed properly. As the area is already over populated with cars, insufficient parking could hinder the success of the businesses. Citing bikes as an integral part of the Mid-City neighborhood, Mr. Schuermann is an advocate of developing more bike accommodations along Carrollton, such as bike parking and rest areas. He would also like to see the Lafitte Corridor extend to the other, less developed side of Carrollton.

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