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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Glass Hat Loft and City Center Flats Apartments


New restaurant recalls former eatery

Andy Shehee loved – loved – the liver and onions and rice pudding he used to eat at the old Beam’s restaurant in Bossier City.

The once-popular eatery has long since closed, but Andy will soon enjoy his favorite food again — just the way Beam’s used to make it.

The Glass Hat — part of a mixed-use development (427-429 Crockett Street) in downtown Shreveport — is expected to open this month. The person running it? The same person who — along with her husband — owned Beam’s for 19 years.

“Two years ago, (Andy) came to me and asked if I would come out of retirement,” Ann Lombardino said. “He wanted to have his own restaurant so he could have liver and onions and rice pudding, like we served at Beam’s. He said he could not get it anywhere that good in this town. So, he decided to open his own restaurant – just like he wanted it.”

But a restaurant had to serve more than liver and onions and rice pudding. The Glass Hat’s menu will be made up of what Lombardino calls “Southern comfort food” – a lot of the same food served at Beam’s. You will be able to enjoy fried chicken, beef tips and rice, chicken and dumplings, brisket, fried catfish, gumbo, etouffee and hamburger steak.

The original The Glass Hat was a popular lounge in the 1930s, which project architect and developer Jason Cram said was “deemed as one of the most luxurious cocktail lounges in the South.”

“It was a chicken dinner and cocktail lounge,” Lombardino said. “There are still people in town who tell me they played their instruments here when they were young men and women. When Shreveport was the little Las Vegas, this was the place to go. From what we know, golfers, governors and anyone who was anyone, came here for an evening of cocktails and chicken dinners.”

Lombardino wants the atmosphere to be the same as the old Beam’s.

“We had all walks of life who came in. We would have an electrician sitting next to the mayor. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Next to The Glass Hat is the two-story Center City Flats. There are three apartments (each already with tenants) upstairs and four commercial spaces (two are still available) downstairs.

“My business partner (Shehee) is not in the construction-related field but wanted to give back to the community,” Cram said. “So, it was a good fit. He could help out on the financing side of things, and I had the background in construction and design that could push this forward.”

Cram owns Vintage Design Group. His background is in historic architecture, so bringing back to life what, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was a Victorian house, then a grocery store, was in his wheelhouse.

“We went back with the original storefront that would have been seen back in 1909,” Cram said. “We tried to match the awnings from original photographs. We matched all the original ceiling tins. All the bases, crowns and molding, we actually bought a machine and replicated them. Everything is what would have been there originally, right down to the push button switches on the hall walls.”

Cram and Shehee’s development is another piece of the puzzle, as more living, dining and entertainment options come downtown.

“For too long, we had people who wanted to live downtown, but nothing much to show them in terms of rental units,” said Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. “That has changed over the past couple of years. There will be even more options with the upcoming opening of the Uneeda Lofts. I hope other projects will follow. There is a need, there is a desire, and there is definitely a market.”

Cram has seen what’s been done in the downtown area of other cities.

“There are so many communities that have gotten it – that have gotten the whole downtown living,” Cram said. “Shreveport is like this blank canvas right now. There are so many really cool buildings that are in need of a lot of love and attention.”

And he believes Shreveport is on the right track to making downtown the place to be.

“You’re starting to see some growth downtown, especially in the Crockett (Street) area, which is one of the attractive reasons to develop there,” Cram said. “The old bus station has turned into an events center (Shreve Station). I’m working with some other developers right now for some housing in the area, as well as a couple of restaurants that are already designed. … That’s what you need to do to start developing and start turning your downtown into a hub. You have to pick an area and start developing that area and bring people down there. Crockett and the upper Texas (Street) area probably has the biggest opportunity to do that at this point.”

To learn more about living in downtown Shreveport, you may visit www.downtownshreveport.com.


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