Established in 1896.

The old building at the corner of Independence and Dauphine has seen a lot of changes sweep across the Bywater as it stood sentry in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Now it’s preparing to go through some changes of its own as it (hopefully) will become a new restaurant and grocery store from chef Francois Debaere called Picnic. Poring over some old pdf files we unearthed on the internet, we found a piecemeal and fascinating partial history of the businesses that have lived inside the structure:

In 1918 the occupant received a permit to continue operating as a saloon (petitioner Leon M Schnell)

In 1922 the “soft drink saloon” suffered the death of its piano player. The “player” was the piano itself as it was a newfangled electric contraption. A Arthur Ginart was passing by the business late at night when he heard music and peered inside; a fire had broken out which eventually caused $1600 in damage ($21k in 2014 dollars)

In 1961, the rough and tumble nature of the Bywater reared its head as a woman “beats off holdup attempt.” Betty Van, the owner of the restaurant (sadly unnamed) slapped around a couple ruffians (with a blackjack!) who had tried to mug her inside her own business. 5th district patrolmen Richard Hunter and Carl Saizan responded to the incident.

In June of 1964 the property, an equipped restaurant, was available for lease at the rate of $125 per month ($942 in 2014 dollars)

and in 1982 a Jorge Perez dashed inside the then tenant, a lounge, with the police in hot pursuit. Perez reportedly deposited a .38 calibre pistol on the bathroom floor and was then taken into custody by Richard Hunter Jr, Arthur Thompson and Anthony Cusimano.

We could sit here all day long reading this stuff; it is gripping.

Chef Debaere is proposing to serve German and French recipes morning, noon and night. In addition to the restaurant the proposed business will also include a grocery store featuring charcuterie. We need all the charcuterie in our lives that we can lay our hands on so we are praying that this business will take flight sometime soon.

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