After closing its doors for nearly a year, The House bar in Tigerland is looking forward to reopening soon with a completely revamped look. Renovation plans have been underway since late 2019, after co-owners Jeff Vaccaro and Casey Fields were inspired by the modernity of bars in other cities like Tuscaloosa and Oxford. They wanted to give LSU students a unique atmosphere that no other bar in Baton Rouge has yet tried.
“Yeah [the bar] really needed an update,” Vaccaro said. “Tigerland has been around since the late 70s, and it’s been 20 to 30 years since anyone’s done anything.”
With the world still in the midst of a pandemic, the bar had to find a way to open under COVID-19 guidelines. Vaccaro and Fields decided to apply for a conditional restaurant license in order to get The House back in business.
“I think they should expect the same fun atmosphere,” Fields said. “We’re just going to bring a classier look to Tigerland because it has a bad reputation and we’d like to change that.”
Now equipped with a kitchen, the bar plans to sell pizza and other food. Although a restaurant-style bar was not in mind, the classification may allow for greater capacity and generate an atmosphere familiar to pre-pandemic Tigerland. Even after the decrease in COVID-19 guidelines, Vaccaro still plans to keep cooking and getting creative with happy hour deals such as a slice and pint beer.
“We thought we should take advantage of this time when we’re out of business due to restrictions and maximize that so we can have great products and a new facility to push when we return,” Vaccaro said.
Fields said the team worked with an architect a few months before the global shutdown and felt quarantine was the perfect time to close the doors and officially revamp The House. Contractor RMB Builders officially launched the project last May, reducing the bar to four walls and a roof. Everything from the plumbing to the electrical has been completely replaced.
“I think [customers] can expect the same environment and atmosphere. We are going to treat you like family while you are here,” Vaccaro said. “And now we’re just going to have a facility on steroids. We have great bathrooms, a grassy patio, plenty of seating, and we even added a kitchen during the renovation.
The bar itself has been renovated with marble countertops set on brick with a new iced drink machine behind the back. Outside, the bar has a grass-lined patio with wooden seating in one corner. The area also offers an outdoor bar, a small stage and a finishing touch of fairy lights above.
Vaccaro’s favorite part of the renovation has actually been the bathrooms. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, complaints had been filed about only half of the toilets working. Now, the men’s and women’s bathrooms have nine cubicles and new floors. The women’s bathroom even features pink walls and LED-lit signs.
With Gov. John Bel Edwards moving the state to Phase 3, restaurants will be able to seat 75% of their capacity indoors. The House will be made up of a crew of 40, all with a salary increase since the start of the pandemic.
The Maison still plans to take COVID-19 precautions seriously, requiring all guests to wear masks upon entry and until seated. They will also perform door temperature checks and require employees to wear masks at all times.
The House’s renovations won’t stop there. The owners plan to reopen the floor, called “The Attic”, later this year after restrictions ease.
“You’re going to get the best of both worlds. A great facility and the old house that everyone loves.
The House will officially open on Sunday February 7.