Joann Guidos and her bar, Kajun's Pub, are a force to be reckoned with. And with her new acquisition of Siberia Lounge right across the street, you can expect a lot of positive changes. With Joann's strong will and work ethic, it's easy to see how she built Kajun's into what it is today and how it gives high expectations for Siberia Lounge. Joann bought the building which is now Kajun's Pub back in 1999 and single-handedly brought it to life. According to Ms. Guidos, before she renovated there were several spots in the building where "you could stand downstairs in the bar, look up through the floor of the second level, through the ceiling of the second level, through the roof of the building!" As if that wasn't enough, the last time the building had had any utilities before her purchase was 1990. It took five years to finish the construction and open Kajun's Pub, only for Hurricane Katrina to strike seven months later.
However, Hurricane Katrina didn't stop Joann. Kajun's Pub remained open during and after Hurricane Katrina. After the hurricane, the city became very unsafe, partially due to looters swarming the city trying to find materials to survive. Nevertheless, Ms. Guidos remained open, protecting her bar and her customers with her own shotgun, among other firearms. Law enforcement drove by every day, but minded their business, knowing the guns were only for protection. That was until the U.S. Marshals came and took all of Joann's firearms at gunpoint.
Kajun's Pub was very valuable because, in addition to the guns, Joann owned generators which provided her and her customers with electricity, cold water, and cold beer-all of which were very hard to come by in this time period. She even provided ice to nurses and other caregivers, saving lives in the process.
The pub officially reopened in November of 2005 and has been open all day every day ever since. There are books written about Ms. Guidos's experiences in this time period. One of them, entitled Nine Lives, can be bought from the vending machine in Kajun's Pub.
Joann will not be managing Siberia Lounge alone. She has help from her two business partners, whom she met in her Mardi Gras parade krewe. When Joann and her partners, Jennifer and Matt Johnson, heard a rumor that Siberia Lounge would soon be hitting the market, they jumped at the opportunity. The three team members come from different backgrounds but feel that their business skills mesh very well with each other and that they will bring much improvement to the music venue.
Kajun's Pub has upheld a reputation for being a very open environment, and you can expect nothing less from Siberia Lounge. Joann has always had a rule for her bar that "when you come in, you respect everybody in there, the bartenders and the customers, and if you can't respect anybody, our security will be very very happy to escort you out." When asked if they would be holding Siberia Lounge to the same standard, the team of three quickly blurted out a unanimous, "Absolutely!"
Aside from acceptance and equality, Ms. Guidos also hopes to bring a greater variety of musical performances to Siberia Lounge. According to Mrs. Johnson, the venue has historically been a punk and metal bar catering to a rather small demographic. "It's been transitioning away from that, but we want to complete that shift and have music that appeals to everybody in New Orleans," she said.
There will also be plenty of other fun events besides live music performances. Trivia Night will be coming back every Tuesday, an event that used to be popular at Siberia. The team will also be continuing Comic Strip night every Monday, a show dedicated to comedy and burlesque. As for new events, Sundays will now be dedicated to female performers, something the team is especially excited for. It seems that the performers are excited about it too. The same day they sent out information about the women's night, they were able to book every Sunday for the next several months. The last event Ms. Guidos and her team mentioned that will eventually be added to their calendar are Sunday Jazz Brunches. Here you will be be able to listen to some New Orleans Jazz while enjoying a meal or watching a Saint's game at the bar.
In addition to a change in events, there will be an even bigger change in the cuisine of Siberia Lounge. The venue is now welcoming chef Gustavo Nar, who will be taking over the kitchen. The menu at Siberia will be making a full shift from Slavic soul food to Brazilian street food, and there's already a lot of hype. The food was put out to be sampled one night at Siberia Lounge, and Mrs. Johnson explained that by the end of the night, the customers were waiting for the next round of samples like vultures. The praise didn't end there. "Honestly, I would say this if this was somebody else's bar, I have never had bar food of that quality and variety," said Ms. Johnson. There will also be improvements to Siberia's wine, beer, and cocktail menu, including new South American wines and beers.
sure to check out Siberia Lounge, 2227 St. Claude Ave., and Kajun's
Pub, 2256 St. Claude Ave.
Photo credit: Carlos Froggy May, Froggy "Infrogmation of New Orleans"