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The new spot features a handful of New Orleans standards, craft cocktails and art from the Big Easy. Johnathan L. Wright, jlwright@rgj.com

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The bricklayers thought the couple was crazy.

This summer, when Kevin Stanley and Kaya Bromley were fashioning Rue Bourbon, their new Midtown Reno restaurant, they asked brick workers to intentionally deface a tidy brick wall already in place.

To nick the wall, scrape it, score it, smear it with mortar — in homage to old spots in the French Quarter of New Orleans that inspired Rue Bourbon.

“The bricklayers said, ‘You want us to do what?’” Stanley recalled. “But I really wanted to mess up the bricks. I didn’t want it too refined, too perfect. I wanted it rougher, more aged. The dimension it adds is night and day from where it started.”

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RUE BOURBON

Address: 1401 S. Virginia St.

Phone: 775-384-6526

On the web:Follow the rue

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Rue Bourbon opened in early October 2018. It occupies the second floor of the Midtown building that houses Morgan’s Lobster Shack on the ground floor. The couple joined what used to be Morgan’s upstairs bar with an adjacent space to create the 2,700-square-foot Rue Bourbon.

The restaurant offers small menu of classic New Orleans dishes, craft cocktails, live jazz, a host of art purchased in New Orleans, and a mural showing its namesake — Bourbon Street — at evening twilight.

“It’s the end of the day, that blue sky, the blue hour, it’s time for a drink,” Stanley said. “The idea is that you feel like you’re walking down Bourbon Street.”

On the menu

The food at Rue Bourbon runs to fried Cajun shrimp striped with spicy rémoulade, fried alligator, a muffuletta, three po’ boys (soft and slightly messy, as they should be), and beignets swaddled in powdered sugar.

The muffuletta is built with Italian Olive Salad from Central Grocery, the New Orleans deli famed for the sandwich; the beignets come courtesy of beignet mix from Café Du Monde, the renowned French Quarter coffee shop.

And that’s it for food — except for a Caesar salad, “because I need a salad when I don’t want to eat everything fried,” Bromley said.

Kitchen plan

Because Rue Bourbon was once a bar, not a full restaurant, there wasn’t much room for a kitchen. The couple installed a small one — about 150 square feet, they said — and that size largely determined the size of the menu.

“We started with Kevin wanting to do everything: étouffées, gumbos, jambalayas,” Bromley said.

“The problem with all of those things in this space and this kitchen,” Stanley continued, “is scalability and consistency. So we decided to focus on some key items. We can make them consistently, they’re very recognized as New Orleans food and they’ve very shareable.”

And they were developed after taste testing in the Big Easy.

“We met with chefs when we were in New Orleans to talk about the menu,” Bromley said. “We ate at every po’ boy place. We vetted items with chefs and made sure we could make them properly here. We aren’t going to do anything we can’t do right.”

Art and alligator

The menu at Rue Bourbon features craft cocktails like a sazerac or a French 75. Folks can sip the cocktails from the main bar, rendered in rolled steel, or at several other bars scattered around the restaurant, including an outdoor bar beyond a roll-up garage door the owners installed.

Other details: custom bar shelves made with steel pipes, purse hooks like the scroll in the Rue Bourbon logo, fleurs de lis (also from the logo) set into floors, steel wainscoting, Sputnik fixtures on dimmers, and a stuffed alligator just back from the taxidermist.

“His name is Mo, and he’ll be the mascot,” Stanley said.

There also are custom sconces placed above artworks so they’re properly lighted. The owners purchased the art garnishing the walls during a trip to New Orleans.

Two especially striking images: vibrantly colored triptychs in the Rue Bourbon pool room that opens from the dining room and bar. The triptychs depict a jazz trumpeter set against a street scene.

Across the pool room, another scene — moody, vaguely threatening — is built from resin set behind a 100-year-old window frame. It’s startling to realize: This is a church.

Knowing the business

Although they’ve recently worked in other fields, Stanley and Bromley have connections to the restaurant business and the food of New Orleans.

Before he worked as a technology executive in Silicon Valley, Reno and elsewhere, Stanley ran sports bars. He retired from the tech industry in June. A large chunk of his extended family lives in New Orleans.

Prior to opening Rue Bourbon, Bromley owned a dental supply company she sold in the spring. Bromley, a lawyer by training, previously served as general counsel for Marco’s Pizza, a national chain, and as executive director of the Jack in the Box National Franchisee Association.

Her current projects include assisting with the leasing of the Village at Rancharrah.

“We had a lot of knowledge of the pitfalls that could happen in the restaurant business,” Bromley said, “so we’ve been really careful with every piece of the restaurant.”

At first, Stanley wanted to open a bar only. Then he decided to add bar food. Bar food morphed into global street food. But when Stanley walked into what would become Rue Bourbon after touring three other potential Reno spots, “it felt like it could have New Orleans style,” he said.

“I realized, ‘Why would I want to be just another bar in Midtown?’ I realized I could bring something new to people. There was no one else offering New Orleans food.”

Tech friendly

Once Rue Bourbon has settled in, the owners said, it can begin offering specials like gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp étouffée, and red beans and rice that can’t be regular menu items because of kitchen limitations.

Rue Bourbon has a roomy parking lot, a rarity for a Midtown restaurant. The couple said they’ve contracted with a New Orleans chef to cook at the restaurant for special events, like a crawfish boil in the parking lot.

And because of Stanley’s tech background, “he wired this whole place like one of his boardrooms,” Bromley said. Outlets abound. Seating areas can host meetings. Presentations and other materials can be streamed to flat-screens from a variety of devices using the Apple TV player and console.

“Kevin designed the restaurant to be an e-workspace during the day for remote workers who are coming over from the Bay or who are working from home or who are just tired of Starbucks and don’t want to rent an executive office,” Bromley said.

“This can be a place where tech people meet and share ideas.”

Have po’ boy, will start-up.

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Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media, part of the USA Today Network. Join @RGJTaste on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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