Big Easy Locals Fight Branch of Brooklyn's Habana Outpost in French Quarter

By Janet Upadhye on January 24, 2013 2:07pm | Updated on January 25, 2013 6:37am

FORT GREENE — More than 1,300 miles from Brooklyn, a movement is building to block the hip Fulton Street restaurant Habana Outpost from opening shop on a quiet street on the outskirts of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The protest group Save Our Neighborhood has posted signs throughout the French Quarter protesting the restaurant, and also launched a website calling for help to prevent “the proposed Habana Outpost project in an effort to preserve the quality of life for our families, friends and neighbors.”

Members of Save Our Neighborhood did not reply to multiple requests for comment, and it was not immediatey clear why residents of the Mardi Gras capital took particular issue with Habana Outpost.

But some neighbors in Fort Greene said they feel the Big Easy's pain.

“Habana Outpost is loud and disruptive to the neighborhood,” local Schellie Hagan said of the restaurant, located at 757 Fulton St., noting that overcrowding at the restaurant is particularly disturbing. 

While the solar-powered and colorful hot spot is a draw for locals seeking blended mojitos, picnic tables and good music, many of the longer-term neighbors allege that the restaurant is noise-filled, disrespectful, and has no control over its patrons.

Sandy Reiburn has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years and started several petitions in recent years addressing raucous behavior in nearby Fowler Square, which she claims is partially created by overflow from Habana Outpost.

“There was a repeated assault of a flash mob, motorcyclists, police vans trying to take control and the residual shooed off party-goers who used the new Fowler Square plaza to hang out when they didn’t wish to return to whichever neighborhoods they came from,” she commented online in The Local after a Habana Outpost block party in the summer of 2012.

But while some neighbors complain that Habana’s parties get out of control, others attend community events put on by Habana’s nonprofit, Kids Corner, in which local children get to participate in activities at the restaurant, including releasing ladybugs and learning about composting.

Still, Habana owner and current Brooklyn resident Sean Meenan “is running into fierce community opposition,” from neighbors who feel the incoming Habana will “result in excessive noise, parking nightmares and safety hazards for pedestrians," according to the Times-Picayune.

But Meenan, who could not be reached for comment, is proud of Habana Outpost and feels the restaurant builds community.

“I have that grandma gene in me,” he said in a TED Talk about the success of Habana Outpost. “I want everyone to eat and have a good time.”

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