Casual off-site conference meetup in New Orleans
April 25, 2011 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a place in New Orleans to host a casual meetup during a conference. Any ideas?

I'm speaking at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in June. I like having an informal meetup after a session, as a chance for people to keep the discussion going if they want to. The place I'm looking for would:

1. Be an easy walk from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

2. Not be crowded on a Wednesday evening. The number of people who show up will be anywhere between 0 and 20, so it would be nice to have a place where I can show up a little early, stake out a table, and play it by ear if we need more space.

This one might be a little bit tricky, as this conference is huge. The ideal place would maybe be a little bit off the beaten path, but still easy to give directions to.

3. Serve beer, but maybe not be a bar, as many participants in this conference are under 21.

4. Be quiet enough to have a conversation.

Any ideas? Thanks.
posted by roll truck roll to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (6 answers total)
Slice Pizzeria has a location at 1513 St. Charles. 504.525.PIES (7437), about 10 blocks towards the Garden District from your Convention Center. Casual, pretty cheap, serves beer/wine, no big NOLA food specialty place, likely to be moderate traffic on any given June Wednesday night... Quiet? Depends on how loud you think a conversation can be.

20 or more random walk ins that want seating as one party is going to be an issue in any nearly any public restaurant. If you realistically expect that kind of response, I think you'd be better off doing a sign up sheet at the exit door of your talk, and getting a private room at someplace like Commander's Palace, about 20 blocks away from your convention site.
posted by paulsc at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2011

Not much "off the beaten path" in this part of town, we have huge conferences in town pretty much every weekend, but there are SO MANY venues that you might find the obscurity you're hoping for. Your biggest challenge will be finding a place for the under-21 crowd, you don't want to count on a place not checking ID's.

Check Ernst's Cafe first, it's walking distance and has an upstairs area that might be quiet for you. Two spots I'd recommend but check on the age limit--Rusty Nail and Bricks, both have great patio spaces you might use.

Any place I would call and ask ahead of time. Most places will be able to tell you right away what the odds are of you getting space, and hook you up with a reservation if necessary.

As far as keeping it walking distance, if you're scoping out places on your own I would keep these boundaries-- Poydras (or as far as Canal), St. Charles (or as far as Carondelet), and John Churchill Chase (I wouldn't send a crowd wandering under 90).

Feel free to MeMail me for any advice on particular spots.
posted by ista at 9:05 PM on April 25, 2011

Sorry paulsc, I would veto's a terrible place for a big group. And Commander's is pricey, and really stuffy.

The Rusty Nail is great. It's a bar but they do have a big menu and apparently the food is great. There is a back patio, and if you talk to them ahead of time they will reserve part of it for you. We did this for my dance troupe's "schmooze & booze" - they didn't require any money or anything, it was basically "hey we are going to have a bunch of people coming, can you reserve this area for us." We even got wristbands for drink specials. I don't think having underagers will be a problem - most bars here are 18+ (actually unless someone acts like a total fool they probably won't get carded).
posted by radioamy at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2011

The place you're looking for is The Columns Hotel. (site of the the New Orleans MetaFilter Tenth Anniversary Party)

1. Though it is not within walking distance from the convention center, it is an easy, breezy ride on the New Orleans streetcar. (C'mon, you KNOW you want to ride the streetcars anyway)

2. Not to worry about crowds. There is an inside bar and an outside veranda.

3. Both beer and cocktails are available, but it's not a "bar" atmosphere. It's like you're drinking and hanging out in someone's stately New Orleans mansion. (but totally casual)

4. Not usually loud music playing. But if there is, the staff is super-cool and would absolutely adjust to accommodate you. (Oooh! and there's a large table in the garden as well, and I know it seats at least 20)
posted by ColdChef at 11:25 AM on April 26, 2011

Also: radioamy's suggestion is pretty great, too.
posted by ColdChef at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2011

Cochon! Please Cochon!

I really need an excuse to go back, and it is 0.3 miles from the convention center. Hardly a couple of blocks.
posted by domo at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2011

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