L ocation, location, location” may be the famous mantra of real estate agents, but it is equally important for restaurants. As the founders of The Little Village learned, location can make or break a business — even if that business started as an illegal card game.
The Little Village BARRINGER CROSSING I 14241 Airline Highway, Suites 101-102 Baton Rouge, LA 70817 225.751.4115 littlevillagebr.com
In 1945, Vince Distefano, a young entre- preneur, leased a building on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a card game. Distefano and his guests gambled for hours while his wife cooked food for tips. Eventually, a local sheriff crashed the party, putting the Distefanos and their crowd of card sharks in jail. The sheriff advised the Distefanos to move their operation outside of the city limits. The couple listened and purchased a fishing camp on Airline Highway, estab- lishing a new gambling business away from the city’s law enforcement. The games grew, and passersby mistook the building and its crowded parking lot for a restaurant, so the Distefanos fed travelers and locals as part of their business strat- egy. The restaurant, originally named The Village, flourished. Today, thanks to a good start in a prime location, The Little Village continues to thrive in its new Airline Highway location. The current building became part of The Little Village story a decade ago. “At the onset, St. John Properties was integral in coordinating the engineers and architects to complete the build-out,” said Hugh Freeze, operations manager at The Little
premise sommelier — me — and accom- modate private lunches and dinners.” The space can host up to 165 people, and there is additional seating on the patio. The full kitchen and prep area is based toward the rear of the building, with full service and menu access located in the bar. Between the Airline Highway location and the freedom to optimize the space how it wanted, The Little Village has been satisfied in its choice of St. John Properties as its landlord. The leasing company has approachable manage- ment, and its business dealings with the restaurant have been fair. “Over the last 10 years,” Freeze said, “our location has benefited from a burst of growth in com- mercial and residential properties in the surrounding areas.” Location is what helped The Little Village get its start in the world, and location keeps it flourishing. It helped put Baton Rouge on the map, rivaling New Orleans as the go-to place for upscale dining. Today, The Little Village continues growing into the future with St. John Properties, taking pride in its interesting history.
Village. “However, we also had the freedom to design the restaurant the way that we wanted and lay down the aes- thetic foundation, which remains to this day.” “We are a full-service restaurant specializ- ing in Italian cuisine but also serving fresh seafood and prime steaks,” Freeze said. “We have an extensive wine list, [an] on-
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