Friday, June 14, 2024
History & Historical LandmarksHotels & Resorts

A Historic Landmark Set to Reopen in New Orleans

If you’re an LGBTQ+ traveler who identifies as Black, you may want to add the historic and newly renovated Dew Drop Inn to your plans when visiting New Orleans.

A legendary landmark in New Orleans, The Dew Drop has been restored to its former glory as one of the country’s most culturally significant music venues and boutique hotels – and it’s set to reopen in Central City on March 1, 2024. 

It’s a stop Black queer travelers should add to their travel plans when visiting NOLA. Why? Once known as the South’s swankiest spot, the Dew Drop Inn’s current revival is led by real estate developer and New Orleans native, Curtis Doucette, Jr., whose passion for historical Black culture and music led him to acquire the Dew Drop in 2021. Doucette and his team spent three years restoring the beloved site, reimagining it as a destination that features a historic music venue, stylish 17-room boutique hotel, restaurant, and pool club. 

For LGBTQ+ folks who love supporting Black-owned businesses and learning more about Black history, you should consider a stay here! From 1939 until the late 1960s, the Dew Drop Inn hosted some of the most iconic Black musicians of our time, including legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Tina Turner, and Etta James, as well as local legends like Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, among many others. The venue served as an incubator for the birth of new sounds like rhythm & blues and rock ‘n roll.

More than just a music venue, the Dew Drop Inn was a place where artists played, lived, and recorded, operating as a hotel, restaurant, nightclub, as well as a barbershop. The diverse business was a testament to the enterprising spirit of Black entrepreneurs amid Jim Crow segregation and was featured in the Negro Motorist Green Book, which highlighted establishments that were deemed safe for Black travelers. The business thrived until 1964 when legal segregation ended and the number of venues available to patrons expanded. The club officially closed in 1972 after the death of the original owner, Frank Painia, while the hotel remained for some long-term tenants until Hurricane Katrina completely closed its doors in 2005. 

(Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
(Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)

Today, the Dew Drop Inn features a 410-person music venue along with 17 guest rooms, including three suites, designed in partnership with architecture and interior design firm Studio Kiro, and design cooperative Civic Studio. Art Deco and mid-century modern touches are used throughout the space to reflect the periods that the Dew Drop Inn previously operated as a music venue and hotel while preserving the landmarked architectural elements. Each guest room will pay homage to a musical or cultural icon whose influence helped shape the Dew Drop Inn, depicted through art, photos, and historical artifacts. 

Visitors will be transported back to the heyday of the Dew Drop while gaining a greater connection to the icons of the past and New Orleans’ rich cultural heritage. Two of the suites, named the Groove Room and the Nite Cap, will overlook the mainstage, offering hotel guests a front-row view of the celebrated musicians slated to perform in the storied venue and honoring the original Groove Room, which the former historic nightclub was nicknamed.

The original hotel corridors, balconies, and doorways remain in their existing locations to retain the historic relationship between the guest rooms and LaSalle Street. Studio Kiro revealed the original second-level exterior walls and created light wells in the hotel’s throughways to highlight the connection between the original two neighboring buildings which were combined in the 1940s to create this famed venue.

The Dew Drop Inn’s restaurant will be run by chef Marilyn Doucette, the founder of Meals from the Heart Café, a health-conscious New Orleans institution, serving the city for over 15 years. Chef Marilyn is also the aunt of Curtis Doucette, Jr., the owner of the Dew Drop Inn — a New Orleans native whose passion for his city and Black culture led him to spend three years renovating the storied space. Their collaboration harkens back to the Dew Drop’s history as a family-run destination with roots in authentic New Orleans culture. 

As the consulting executive chef, Chef Marilyn will offer a menu of quintessential Creole cuisine, with nods to the signature dishes that the original space was known for, but with healthy, nourishing ingredients incorporated, where possible.  Menu highlights will include Grillades & Grits – tender cuts of sirloin smothered in red wine over southern-style cheesy grits, Red Beans and RiceGumbo, Chef Marilyn’s famous Crab Cakes, and a Creole-Cajun Charcuterie Board with cuts from local, Black-owned New Orleans sausage company, Vaucresson’s. Guests can enjoy southern comfort food staples at tables along the perimeter of the venue or as grab-and-go options for in-room and poolside dining. The restaurant’s menu will be available for breakfast and lunch to start, with grab-and-go items like sandwiches, wraps, fresh smoothies, and yogurt parfaits also available.

  • Dave Bartholomew Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
  • Rights Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
  • Ray Charles Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
  • Patsy Vidalia Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
  • Allen Toussaint Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)
  • Groove Suite Room (Photo Credit: Rush Jagoe)

With a distinctly New Orleans spirit, the Dew Drop Inn is a cultural landmark with an unparalleled history – the ideal destination for discerning travelers, music lovers, and locals seeking a one-of-a-kind experience in the heart of Central City – and a place of discovery where guests can hear new sounds that reverberate around the world. 

For more information visit the Dew Drop Inn’s website.

Vacationer Staff

Vacationer Magazine's writing staff works hard to bring you all the latest LGBTQ travel articles to help inspire and inform.

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