NEW ORLEANS — There was nothing fancy about it, but a night out at Nick’s Bar on Tulane Avenue was a right of passage of sorts for New Orleanians of a certain age.
In fact, many locals can say they got their first drink at Nick’s.
But the popular dive was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and the barroom, which opened in 1918, was eventually torn down.
These days, the corner where Nick’s once stood is an empty lot.
Now, plans call for it to rise at the same spot it called home for almost a century, though with a new New Orleans twist.
Renderings show a new Nick’s Bar on the ground floor of a sleek new building with five floors of condominiums above it.
Albert Kattine, the grandson of Nick Castrogiovanni, the bar’s namesake, told a recent neighborhood meeting that the increased size is appropriate since a multi-story building is now under construction next door at the site of the former Capri Motel, according to a report from the Mid-City Messenger.
If all goes according to plan, work on the project would wrap sometime in the next two years.
Tulane Avenue, which city leaders once dubbed “The Miracle Mile” as they tried to burnish its image, has fallen on hard times in recent decades.
Despite the avenue’s reputation at the time, Nick’s was a spot where New Orleanians from all walks of life came together.
“Nick’s was a jamming place,” recalled Frank Giles, who remembered going there as a young man in the 1970s. “On Friday nights there was nothing like going down to Nick’s, and I’m glad to see they’re coming back.”
He remembered it not only being crowded, but dark and smoky in those days before the city banned smoking in bars.
“The ceiling tiles were stained with nicotine, you could scratch nicotine off the walls then you’d have to go clean your fingernails,” Giles said. “An amazing place. Definitely one of the New Orleans originals.”