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Bayou Primed For Debut Entertainment Complex Plans To Open Tuesday

Thu., Jan. 30, 1997

A taste of New Orleans will arrive in Spokane next week, five months behind schedule, but just in time for Mardi Gras.

Cobblestone walkways stretch beneath ornate wrought-iron balconies that overlook the Spokane River east of downtown. Chefs are dishing up roasted alligator and black bean quesadillas. A concert hall is gearing up to host cajun blues and zydeco bands.

It’s all part of the Bayou Brewing Co., at 1003 E. Trent, near the Hamilton intersection. The entertainment complex includes a restaurant, lounge, concert hall, game room and other shops.

At long last, Tuesday will mark the grand opening.

Bayou originally planned to open in August, but the cleanup, including hauling away old auto parts and tons of oil-laden dirt, set the project back months.

“This has been a huge monster project that everybody had doubts about,” said Steve Livingstone, who owns the complex with partner Tom Vincent.

Bayou looked almost ready Wednesday as neon signs flashed and job applicants sat for interviews at shiny new tables. The complex will employ about 100 full- and part-time people. Many of the employees were hired from Salty’s at the Falls when that restaurant closed last month.

Livingstone’s crews have ripped down old warehouses, replacing them with new buildings that look old. The buildings have been painted, and decorations selected, to evoke a style similar to a New Orleans promenade.

“It looks like it’s 100 years old, but we spent a lot of money to make it look that way,” Livingstone said. More than $5 million has been poured into the project, he said.

The complex seats about 300 and patrons can eat and drink in any of five areas, ranging from fine dining, where large picture windows open onto the Spokane River, to a game room, where players in a virtual reality batting cage can swing real bats at computer balls that hurtle toward them.

The entertainment complex offers a 5,000-square-foot dance hall called Fat Tuesday’s, which will have live music Wednesday through Saturday night. Six beers - brewed on-site - are on tap at the VooDoo Lounge, including Gator Ale, VooDoo Dark and and Bayou Blues Dunkelweizen. The lounge will feature live music seven nights per week.

“It’s whole family entertainment until 9 o’clock at night,” Livingstone said. “At 9, it’s New Orleans, it’s supposed to be for the big kids.”

Bayou Brewing will celebrate Mardi Gras beginning on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 11, and continuing through Feb. 15.

Along the cobblestone walkway leading to the dining area, patrons can browse through a “curiosity shop” while waiting for tables. Roxy Antiques moved from Coeur d’Alene to be part of the Bayou Brewing complex.

“We thought it was a perfect place to put in an antique store,” said Michael Fietsam, who owns Roxy with Mary Crawford.

“We’ll have everything from fine Dresden china to bear traps and cookie jars. There’ll be a mixture of everything, items from $2 to $5,000,” he said.

Restaurant patrons also can stroll next door and watch coffee beans roast at Craven’s Coffee Co. In addition to operating its wholesale coffee business on site, Craven’s supplies the restaurants and cafes within Bayou Brewing.

Future plans for 50,000 square feet of warehouse space next to the Bayou Brewing complex include a riverside promenade, and other shops, possibly art galleries or bookstores.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

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