It's been 17 years since Warren Chapoton opened Juan's Flying Burrito, his first restaurant in Uptown New Orleans, but he isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
The mastermind behind the well-known Creole taqueria and pizza joint Slice opened a new venture, the pan-Asian-themed Lucky Rooster (515 Baronne St., 504-529-5825; www.luckyroosternola.com) in June 2013.
"We've definitely been around," Chapoton says of his restaurant empire, which includes a total of five restaurants in neighborhoods throughout the city. "New Orleans is a great place to have an establishment."
Chapoton says each restaurant has its own personality to fit the vibe of the neighborhood where it's located, and the Lucky Rooster in the Central Business District is no exception.
"We're kind of multi-concept," Chapoton says of his newest venture, which features an extensive craft cocktail and gourmet wine menu.
"Having something that is accessible but also sophisticated is really kind of neat," he says. "People are more adventurous and more demanding these days. And you've got to kind of feed that."
Chef Neal Swidler oversees the menu, which Chapoton describes as "just traditional enough" and "eclectic." Swidler has worked in several of the city's kitchens, including Emeril's Delmonico and Mike's On The Avenue. He melds Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese flavors with influences from Japan and Thailand in his dishes at Lucky Rooster.
Popular dishes include handmade dumplings, a jade garden salad with crunchy fried onions and samurai steak with peanut sauce, a variation on banh mi, Chapoton says.
"We're still fine-tuning the menu over there to give the market what they want," Chapoton says. "We're learning what works well and what people really like. There are lots of options."
For drinks, Lucky Rooster boasts the work of New Orleans mixologist Christine Jeanine Nielsen. Nielsen, who has worked in Windsor Court Hotel and Sainte Marie, creates concoctions such as the Juan's Donkey — a Moscow Mule variation with lemongrass, fresh ginger, local raw sugar and Hawaiian ginger gin.
"She's one of the best mixologists from the city, making drinks just crafty enough that they fall into the craft cocktail theme," Chapoton says. "And they're really playful, too."
The restaurant has more than 100 wine selections from all over the globe, including areas of Germany, France and Austria. Joe Briand, a wine connoisseur and the restaurant's general manager, picks the wine.
For Chapoton, the most exciting thing about the new restaurant is its flexibility. Customers can get a healthy meal for an affordable price or splurge at the bar. That way, customers can sit down for a casual lunch or meet for drinks before heading to the nearby Saenger Theatre or Superdome.
"That's what I'm excited about," Chapoton says. "You can get in and out of there ... or you can do cuisine cocktails and great wines and make it a thing."