Tucked away in Bywater, the bright purple exterior at Bar Redux (801 Poland Ave., 504-592-7083; www.barredux.com) turns heads. Its eclectic ambience and breezy courtyard keep locals coming back.
"Originally, we thought about opening in the French Quarter and I'm so glad we didn't because that's so not us," says Janya Mercado, who co-owns the bar with her husband Russ. "We really like being part of the community and part of this neighborhood. We have people who have become our friends that come in five to seven times a week."
New York transplants Russ, Janya and their son Damian Elvis Mercado opened Bar Redux in 2014. They invite local artists to workshop or perform new material in the bar. For the trio, what started out as a place for locals to grab a drink has turned into a platform for young creative people.
"This space can become whatever we need it to be," Janya says. "We just move the furniture around. Here we give you the stage and let you create. We will help and share ideas, but here [artists] are not stifled — they can create whatever they want."
Artist Gill Smitherman recently exhibited prints and paintings in the bar. While Smitherman's art was hanging inside, singer-songwriters Lady Lyricist and Dreaming Dingo performed outside.
The bar serves drinks and Caribbean-tinged pub grub made by Russ. The menu fluctuates depending on what Russ feels like cooking and what customers request.
"We put the kitchen together two weeks before we opened and we had hamburgers on the menu, nothing else," Russ says. "Really, the neighborhood made up the menu. I would pick a special, put it on the chalkboard, make it and take it off. If my customers asked me, 'When are you going to make that again?' then I would add it to the menu."
During the summer, the bar hosts performances by singers, comedians and burlesque dancers. Russ says the bar's variety makes it unique.
"Our motto is 'Come as you are, stay as you like,'" he says.