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Blake Pontchartrain: Parker’s Canal Place 

The restaurant opened in 1980 inside The Shops at Canal Place

click to enlarge The Shops at Canal Place is the former home of Parker's, which had a ground-floor bar and sunken restaurant.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

The Shops at Canal Place is the former home of Parker's, which had a ground-floor bar and sunken restaurant.

Hey Blake,

I recall an early 1980s restaurant and bar in Canal Place called Parker's. The bar was on the ground level and the upscale restaurant was below ground. I can't find anyone else who recalls Parker's. Am I delusional?

Kent

Dear Kent,

  Parker's Canal Place, as the restaurant was called, is not a figment of your imagination, and former owner Parker L. Barnes Jr. was flattered you remembered his establishment. It was one of the original tenants of The Shops at Canal Place, the office tower, hotel and shopping center opened in 1979 by developer Joseph Canizaro. Parker's opened there in 1980.

  Barnes said your memory of Parker's unique below-ground setting is correct, in that the 60-stool island bar was on the ground floor and the restaurant was a few steps below ground. The bar at which customers sat was a huge piece of pine, carved and delivered by a friend from Bar Harbor, Maine, Parker said.

  In 1982, Esquire named Parker's, which also featured live music, among the 100 best bars in America. The restaurant offered a continental menu and Barnes said there was a takeout window used for breakfast orders for workers in the nearby office tower. After a few years on the ground level, Parker's moved to the third floor of the building near the present location of the Theatres at Canal Place. The restaurant closed in 1987 and was replaced by the Kaleidoscope Brasserie and Bar, run by chef Willy Coln. The area now is a food court.

  Barnes and his wife found success in another venture they opened during the 1984 World's Fair. They sold frozen drinks at a stand called Let's Make a Daiquiri, and after the fair, the business expanded across the country. Barnes now owns three daiquiri shops in Miami.

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