Jazz historians have long considered the 400 block of South Rampart Street the birthplace of jazz. The Little Gem Saloon was first opened in 1903, taking its place among other jazz clubs that have long been lost to the past including The Eagle Saloon and the Iroquois Theater. No other single location is more significant to the founding and evolution of jazz than this one. During its time the Little Gem Saloon served as a popular watering hole for early jazz legends like Buddy Bolden, Freddie Keppard and Jelly Roll Morton until closing its doors in 1909.
Little Gem Saloon is a historic restaurant and live music venue that dates back to 1904 when the early progenitors of Jazz like Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden performed at Frank Douroux’s Little Gem Saloon in the historic “Back O’ Town” neighborhood that borders the infamous Storyville red-light district. As Jazz became one of New Orleans greatest exports, the 400 block of S. Rampart, also known as “The Ramp”, was a teeming commercial district that included the Karnofsky Tailor Shopwhere Louis Armstrong reportedly worked in his youth, and numerous Jazz clubs including the legendary Eagle Saloon, and The Iroquois Theatre. Between 1926 and 1949, the building was home to David Pailet’s Loan Office, a combination pawn shop and hang out for musicians and in the 1950’s, it became Pete’s Blue Heaven Lounge, an R&B club where members of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club began and ended members funerals. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, in the name of progress, the once thriving district was demolished in order to build a new City Hall, office towers and parking lots. The Little Gem Saloon was boarded up for close to 40 years until its rebirth in December 2012.
In 2012, Dr. Nicholas Bazan, his daughter Maria Bazan, son Nick Bazan, son-in-law Charles and brother Tim Clark set out to restore The Little Gem with an eye for historic preservation and a passion for Jazz. The group transformed The Little Gem Saloon into a multi-level restaurant and live music venue that harkens back to the days when venue was truly the jazz corner of New Orleans. More than a century since it first opened its doors, the restoration of the Little Gem Saloon marks the resurrection of this historic area as the new epicenter of New Orleans’ jazz.
The Little Gem is anchored by a first floor dining room where patrons experience some of the best live music, cuisine and cocktails that New Orleans has to offer. Chef Miles Prescott creates locally sourced Southern Soul cuisine, bartenders serve up handcrafted cocktails and small ensembles perform on an art-deco stage. The upstairs is home to The Ramp Room, an intimate 2nd floor live music club that boasts pristine acoustics, plush seating and a wrap around balcony.
For a complete music schedule and ticket prices, visit http://www.littlegemsaloon.com or call 504 267-4863. The Little Gem Saloon is open for Lunch Monday-Friday from 11am- 2pm, Dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 4:30pm-10pm and a traditional Jazz Brunch every Sunday from 10am-2pm.
“La Maison Maylié et Esparbé” expands into a second building built on an adjacent lot – with an iconic wisteria vine growing between the two buildings – and the restaurant’s trademark Table d’Hôte tradition begins. For 110 years Maylie’s served as a living link between the Gilded Age Creole Cuisine of New Orleans’ wealthy and its Progressive Age transformation into the food of a city.
John L. Metoyer and members of a New Orleans society called “The Tramps”, attend a vaudevillian comedy show at the Pythian Temple Theater, on Gravier and Saratoga Streets, which includes a skit with performers in grass skirts and black face; by 1909 they have renamed themselves “The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club”. By mid-century Zulu members adopt the site of Frank Doroux’s Little Gem Saloon, now known Pete’s Blue Heaven Lounge, as the rallying and disbanding point for their Jazz Funeral Processions.