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Taking It to the Street 

What's in a name? For Bourbon Street Entertainment, which operates several clubs on the city's most famous French Quarter street, it's a definition and a business philosophy all in one.

The enterprise currently owns and operates the Jazz Parlor (125 Bourbon St., 523-3800), Utopia (227 Bourbon St., 523-3800) and the Ragin' Rooster across the street (228 Bourbon St., 528-9315). It also is partial owner of Howl at the Moon (135 Bourbon St., 410-9000). Each venue offers a different entertainment style, covering the bases from New Orleans jazz to high-energy dance music. The venues may become even more varied in the future, as the company is constantly on the lookout for new locations that lend themselves to music and food.

"Who knows what lies in the future," says Madeline Schwartz, director of sales and marketing for Bourbon Street Entertainment. "We never can tell. The owners are settling in on Bourbon Street; that's where they feel the tourist industry is. They're always looking for new opportunities, and if someone has a club for sale, they'll consider it."

Although 80 percent of the people who make their way down Bourbon Street are tourists, the clubs also have developed themselves as a regular stop for locals looking for music, fun, drinks and food in a French Quarter setting.

"We've really accumulated a great local crowd for the clubs," Schwartz says. "All of our clubs, except the Jazz Parlor, do happy hours: three-for-ones until 8 p.m. At the Jazz Parlor, we're going to do martinis for $3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We're going to get very creative with the martinis. That will target the locals, employees getting off at the Ritz-Carlton ... and other places. (Musician) Tony Seville plays in the afternoon. They can sit and relax and drink martinis and cosmopolitans."

The bars operated by Bourbon Street Entertainment currently all are within a block of each other, but offer very different styles of fun. "We try to cater to everyone," she says. "For instance, the Jazz Parlor caters to people who want to dine and listen to New Orleans jazz. That doesn't really target the young people, although we do get young people in." The ambience at that club is elegant and laid back with candlelit tables and fine dining.

"The Ragin' Rooster is a rock 'n' roll club ... that totally caters to younger people," says Schwartz. "When the band is not on the stage playing, we have DJs and music until early morning. There will always be something going on at the Rooster." That club this week begins operating 24 hours, with a kitchen that offers breakfast, burgers, chili and other casual dining fare.

Utopia draws in customers who want to celebrate life with high-energy dance music and out-of-the-ordinary promotions, such as the weekly "homemade bikini contest" held every Thursday in which the winner takes home $500. "It draws a great crowd; (the contestants) totally use their imaginations on the homemade bikinis," Schwartz says. "It makes for a fun night. Utopia is always doing something special. It's a great club and supports marvelous parties." A courtyard at that bar provides a lovely setting for a drink with a friend or a private party, with trees decked out in lights, a blazing fountain and a ambience that offers the elegance of a French Quarter courtyard and the fun-loving attitude of a neighborhood nightclub. Utopia of open from 4 p.m. until people leave on weekdays and noon-until on weekends.

Howl at the Moon draws in customers who can't get enough of entertainers dueling with each other on pianos. "The artists actually put on an audience-participation show," Schwartz says. "It's lots of fun. When they do 'Great Balls of Fire,' on the pianos, they actually set the pianos on fire. It's just great fun, great entertainment."

All the clubs owned by Bourbon Street Entertainment offer facilities for private parties of varying sizes. Howl at the Moon, which hosted an event for the Southern Governors Conference, can accommodate the largest parties, with space for more than 800 guests.

Bourbon Street Entertainment also supports the local workforce, booking mostly New Orleans musical acts as well as employees at its clubs.

"We hire mostly local talent," Schwartz confirms. "People come to New Orleans to hear local New Orleans music, and that's what we try to provide. We also think we have some of the best employees in the city. They treat their jobs like they're having fun."

click to enlarge Lighted trees and a glowing fountain add a touch of whimsical, fun-loving beauty to the courtyard of Utopia, one of several French Quarter clubs owned by Bourbon Street Entertainment.
  • Lighted trees and a glowing fountain add a touch of whimsical, fun-loving beauty to the courtyard of Utopia, one of several French Quarter clubs owned by Bourbon Street Entertainment.
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