[Emily Hingle, Jafar M. Pierre]

The Dew Drop Inn Reopens With Fanfare

10:57 March 04, 2024
By: Emily Hingle

A NOLA Icon Reopens

The shuttered Dew Drop Inn was teeming with life this weekend as the doors reopened and patrons flowed in to hear live jazz for the first time in decades.

The historic building, operated by Frank Painia, was once an entertainment venue, restaurant, barber shop, and hotel/boarding house that saw some of the best musical performances of the 20th century. The likes of James Brown, Little Richard, Guitar Slim, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and countless others performed here to enthusiastic audiences.

The project was helmed by developer Curtis Doucette Jr., who purchased the Dew Drop Inn from Frank Painia's grandson Kenneth Jackson. Doucette was able to make the deal because he promised Jackson that the Dew Drop Inn would return to its former glory, a necessity for Jackson. Just one year later, The Dew Drop Inn welcomed its first guests to enjoy a bubbly, bombastic event. The packed ribbon cutting was a love fest for the beautifully-restored building's past, as well as its bright future. Children and grandchildren of original performers and staffers were in attendance, as well as Mayor LaToya Cantrell, representatives from Home Bank, and state officials. Deacon John, a regular at the Dew Drop Inn in the 1960s, was happy to put on a show featuring fine New Orleans tunes and start off a new musical era.

Deacon John returned later that night for the sold-out first official concert along with Irma Thomas as the headliner. Deacon John had the big, happy crowd dancing along to "Long Tall Sally" and "Mardi Gras Mambo." One of the Dew Drop Inn Legacy Revue band members remarked, "We need a fire extinguisher after Deacon John!" After his fiery set, Irma Thomas glided onto the stage in a glittering black and white ensemble, pumping out "Love Don't Change, People Do" and the romantic number "Let It Be Me."

Today, culture-lovers can stay in one of the 17 rooms and be surrounded by music history. In fact, each room is named after someone who spent a lot of time here in the past. There are rooms dedicated to pianist James Booker, singer Irma Thomas, and drag queen Patsy Vidalia. Frank Painia's Groove Room will be the best for true music lovers as you can open the double doors in the living space to look directly over the stage. It's the best view in the house!

Sign Up!