Old meets new as a hip restaurant opens in the Bywater occupying a space that has had a long, winding road, and this time the walls did the talking. Vanessa Bolano goes full circle.
“We’re in Booty’s Street Food. It’s our Bywater street food mecca,” says owner Kevin Ferrell.
Ferrell and his partner are opening their first restaurant. Booty’s on the corner of Lousia and Dauphine in the Bywater is hip and trendy. They mix one of a kind drinks and serve street food indoors.
“It is pretty much the food you would find in open air markets, in Southeast Asia, or little bodegas in South America. It’s sort of like a universal experience,” says Ferrell, “Bywater feels like the center of the universe to me. It just feels like my home. There’s a magnetic attraction here for me and as soon as we found this building it was kind of love at first sight.”
The building is 155 years old and housed what used to be Driscoll’s pharmacy. Like most of the properties in New Orleans this one also had a story.
“When we were renovating the building we found a bunch of old pharmacy manuals in the attic and when we we’re laying the foundation, when we were digging it up we found all of these old pharmacy bottles and some say Milk of Magnesia, 1908. We found all of these artifacts of what this building used to be and it was so exciting. It sort of played into the name of this place because it just felt like there was buried treasure here and we just kept digging it up.”
Kevin and his partner didn’t find gold, but it sure felt like it. Instead they dug up history. A past 84-year-old Walter Driscoll and his sister 87-year-old Dorothy Bosco Driscoll left behind 42 years ago.
“I remember so much about it. It was my whole life. I wasn’t a pharmacist but i was part of it,” remembers Dorothy.
The two owned and operated Driscoll’s Pharmacy, a business first opened by their parents in 1926. Eventually Walter became a pharmacist and Dorothy was his assistant until 1968 when the business was dismantled.
“We went all through the depression in the 1930’s and WWII. All kinds of things happen at that time,” says Dorothy.
“The neighborhood was deteriorating bad. Everything was starting to fall apart down there,” says Walter.
The final straw came after Dorothy was help up and Walter was shot in the face. The two don’t live here anymore, but Dorothy still owns the house next to the old pharmacy. She says she’s glad she never gave it up because she knew the neighborhood would eventually bounce back.
Today new businesses and freshly painted houses are breathing life back into Bywater. It’s the reason Kevin and his team are here restoring the brilliance of what was. As for the old bottles? Once cleaned they’ll be displayed by the bar.
Booty’s opens Friday November 30th at 6pm and will stay open seven days a week from 7am to 11pm.
The Driscoll family plans to visit the restaurant next week for Walter’s 85th birthday. It’ll be their first time back inside the property.