Capital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today in Baton Rouge

Editor’s Note: Never miss the trolley! Click here with your mobile phone or any web-connected device to see real-time movement of the cab. Select #15 for the Garden District Shuttle. Fare is $1.75 each way but Saturdays $2 will let you ride all day.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nThe Capital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today, looping between downtown and the tree-lined neighborhood as CATS continues to try to attract different types of riders.\r\n\r\nThe trolley runs every half hour on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturdays, riders can hop on and off throughout the day and the trolley will run hourly from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.\r\n\r\nCATS Chief Executive Officer Bob Mirabito said he does not expect the first day to indicate how successful the trolley will be, but he said he has heard excitement and interest from people living in the Garden District. He said he hopes demand will soar on Friday, when the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge hosts its street party Laurel Street Palooza.\r\n\r\nThe Garden District Trolley is part of a $1 million expansion in which CATS officials tried to reach out to new kinds of riders — not just those who are dependent on the bus system. Service has not started yet on the two other routes approved with the Garden District trolley, a bus running between the CATS terminal to the university campus and another running back-and-forth from Tigerland and downtown.\r\n\r\nView Source Article Here

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John WilliamsCapital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today in Baton Rouge

Westmoreland Piccadilly is Gone but Not Forgotten

As most of you know, the nearby Piccadilly Cafeteria on Government St., which was located in the Westmoreland Shopping Center for 55 years, closed this past summer on June 29, 2014. A lot of people who grew up in BR (like me) have many fond memories of this particular Piccadilly. So, I thought as a parting gesture to that culinary institution I would share a few of my memories of the place, and I asked other folks (via the GDCA E-mail list) to share their memories, too, and a couple of neighbors obliged.\r\n\r\n”As a little kid, I just loved putting my tray on the moving conveyor belt and watching as it progressed all along the wall towards the mysterious, hidden dishwashing area! This was absolutely mesmerizing for a little kid! I also liked watching my parents’ change roll down from the special old, giant, heavy, metal cash register they had until a few years ago. My siblings and I were raised on Piccadilly buttery green beans, crispy corn bread sticks, meat patties and mashed potatoes with gravy, and for dessert, cubes of green, blue, and red jello! That jello was cubes of pure happiness for a little kid!\r\n\r\n”As an adult, it became my husband’s and my “go to” restaurant when our son Dean was a toddler, because it was one of the most kid-friendly restaurants in Baton Rouge, and of course they offered those discounted kids’ meals. No one there seemed to mind if your 3-year old child ran up and down the long carpeted area laughing maniacally, or if there were cornbread crumbs all over the floor when we were finished (we always tipped especially heavily when this happened!). It was especially fun when we, by chance, met up with other Garden District parents with their young kids on kids’ night; I think I will probably miss that part the most!”\r\n- Carolyn Schwarzoff\r\n\r\n”Aaah, the conveyor belt! Many happy memories. My older brothers regularly threatened to stuff me on it and send me to the jungles of South America (that’s where it goes, apparently). Then, when I was old enough to walk, I used to put things on it that were totally not supposed to be there–stuffed animals, mainly, but I think Barbie might have gone on a ride, too, seeking to broaden her horizons from her day job as an animal activist. I’d love to know what kinds of “presents” the dishwashers received from adoring, local children. I say ‘local’ because you’d have to be a regular to scheme and masterfully execute your drop without a whiff of parental interference.”\r\n- Jeannie Smith\r\n\r\n”This was my mother’s favorite place to eat. Her grandkids never understood why when they want to take her out to eat the only place she wanted to go was Piccadilly. One even “kidnapped” her one time and took her someplace else. They never did that again!\r\n\r\n”Secondly, I always lived and worked in close proximity to Piccadilly and when my work group of over 30 years was outsourced we made a pact to meet once a month for lunch at, you guessed it, Piccadilly. We would catch up with each other’s lives, information share, laugh so loud I thought they were going to ask us to leave, but most importantly listen to Henry Gray play the piano and sing.\r\n\r\n”Kinda like Cheers minus the booze.\r\n\r\n”There was one waitress, Michelle, who always had our table set and waiting for us. Now I feel like I’ve lost a member of the family. Oh by the way, they had the best food of all the Piccadillys.”\r\n- Marlene Little

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John WilliamsWestmoreland Piccadilly is Gone but Not Forgotten

Garden District Pair Opens Comfortable New Bar

Garden District residents and owners of the bar, Brandolyn Tabor and Arthur Lauck.\r\n\r\nWhen you enter Lock and Key, you seem to leave the North College Dr. strip mall be- hind for New Orleans or New York, which is just what Garden District residents and owners of the bar, Arthur Lauck and Bran- dolyn Tabor, had in mind when they decid- ed to open a bar. With comfortable, clubby furniture, exposed brick, paintings in gilt frames, and a wall of artfully lit bottles of whiskey glowing amber behind the bar, the ambience is far from that of the establish- ment on the other side of the wall.\r\n\r\nFor Arthur, owning Lock and Key is a kind of homecoming, since his parents owned a bar by the same name in Lafay- ette during the seventies. He had thought about opening a bar for years–“It’s in his blood,” says Brandi– but a twenty-one year career as a photojournalist, the last fifteen at the Advocate, left little time to pursue the thought. After receiving an opportu- nity to retire early when the Advocate was reorganized, Arthur found himself looking for a new career.\r\n\r\n“We had a conversation on the front porch of our house on Cherokee,” says Brandi, “and decided that it was just too stressful wondering where his next job was going to come from.” With those thoughts, the idea of owning a bar turned from vague notion to a dream worth pursuing.\r\n\r\nAlthough the couple had no previous experience owning a service industry, Arthur sees a connection with his work as a photojournalist.\r\n\r\n“At the Advocate, I was trying to serve my community in my work. Now I’m just serving them in a different way.”\r\n\r\nAlthough short on practical experience, the couple had trained for their new career for years. “When we travel, we always en- joy going to bars,” says Brandi. “We like going to a new spot and figuring out what works, what we would want to do,” adds Arthur.\r\n\r\nThe couple is also lucky to have a pair of silent partners who allow them to focus on operations rather than financing. “That just doesn’t happen in this industry,” says Brandi.\r\n\r\nWhen, in September, Arthur heard of the available space while waiting in line at Garden District Coffee on Perkins. He hur- ried home, grabbed Brandi, still in her pa- jamas, and brought her to see the site of their future bar. By December, the space was open for business.\r\n\r\n“We would never be where we are with- out our staff,” says Brandi, and she attri- butes their ability to open with such success to the number of fantastic bartenders in Baton Rouge whom they already knew. Although they rely on the excellence of their staff, both Brandi and Arthur put in plenty of time working at or for the bar, usually sixteen or so hours a day. “Owning a small business is not a nine to five gig,” says Arthur. “If we’re awake, we’re working on the bar.”\r\n\r\nThe couple hopes to expand on their success by adding a menu of small plates in the next few weeks and building their Whis- key and Women events. They also plan to continue supporting the Food Bank with food drives, evident in the bin of non-perishable goods near the front door, and Tri- umph Kitchen, which gives high-risk teens life skills in the hospitality industry.\r\n\r\nCurrently, the bar offers happy hour from 4:30-7:00, with select cocktails half priced as well as wine and beer specials. Wednesday is “pianoke,” an open mike night for aspiring singers and musicians, who may choose to be accompanied by the house pianist. Thursdays and Fridays feature live piano from 9 to midnight, and Saturday showcases a jazz trio that occa- sionally expands to an octet.\r\n\r\nOn the last Saturday of May, the couple was at Lock and Key, of course, enjoying cocktails while listening to the jazz trio who had been joined by Wes “Warm Daddy” Anderson and a couple of friends from New Orleans.\r\n\r\n“We looked at each other and knew,” says Arthur, “what’s happening now is just perfect.”

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John WilliamsGarden District Pair Opens Comfortable New Bar

JCW Productions’ John Williams Specializes in Weddings and Commercials

John Williams is in the process of renovating the building at the corner of Terrace Avenue and Perkins Road, across from the Garden District Animal Hospital. The building, which once housed the monthly art show, Stabbed in the Art, now is home to JCW Productions, a videography business that specializes in weddings and commercials but also offers still photography in the studio.\r\n\r\nThe reception area just inside the doors features three flat screen televisions, which loop a selection of commercials and videos the production company has created. Once the renovation is complete, the space will include a sound studio as well as the photography studio, space for editing, and offices.\r\n\r\nAt first glance, all of this seems like an unusual accomplishment for a twenty-year old recent LSU graduate, but John’s experience and determination belie his age, since he began video taping weddings when he was just thirteen years old.\r\n\r\n“One summer, I decided to mow lawns so I could save up money to buy a camera. I knew that if I had a camera, I could always make money,” says John.\r\n\r\nJohn attended a small high school, St. George’s Independent School, in Memphis, and one day brought his camera to school and had it out during his math class. The math teacher, Jeff Ruffin, asked if John would like to video the school basketball games, which eventually led to opportunities to video football and soccer games, too. Soon, John was broadcasting games on line, garnering a regular audience of 500 viewers and a chat room.\r\n\r\nThe math teacher was also instrumental in setting John on the path to video taping weddings, since Mr. Ruffin was the first groom to hire him. After that first wedding “my name got passed around, rippling through school, and [my business] blew up,” says John.\r\n\r\nAlthough St. George’s was small, they had a strong basketball program. “We had an amazing player and had the chance to play in a tournament in Boston,” says John. After that trip, he received a call from a Sports Illustrated writer who wrote an article about John’s work as a high school videographer. When in his senior year the basketball team won state, John received a championship ring along with the team.\r\n\r\nWith his high school experience behind him, there was only one place John wanted to go for college. “I wanted to go to LSU to film football,” says John. His high school’s athletic director placed a call for him, and John then spent 3 ½ years filming all football practices and games here at LSU.\r\n\r\nAlthough John spent 30 hours a week filming football games, he wanted to maintain his wedding videography business, but the move from Memphis cost him the contacts he had made during high school. 
“I received $100 worth of free advertising when I signed up to advertise on Google, which led to $5000 worth of bookings,” says John.\r\n\r\nJohn quickly replaced and multiplied his high school wedding contacts. “You can’t film football for LSU and not meet tons of people and make connections,” he says.\r\n\r\nBetween his sophomore and junior years at LSU, John realized that he wanted to stay in Louisiana, as so many visitors do, for the culture. “I hated paying rent,” he says, so although only twenty, he was looking to buy a house, quickly settling on the Garden District as his preferred neighborhood. As he says, “I wasn’t going to buy anywhere else.”\r\n\r\nThe same week he bought his house on Camelia, John drove by the building at the corner of Perkins and Terrace. “I told myself if that building ever goes for sale, I’m buying it.” And, not surprisingly, he did.

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John WilliamsJCW Productions’ John Williams Specializes in Weddings and Commercials