POSTED: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 2:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 2:04am
METAIRIE, LA (WDSU-CNN) — The Fat City area of Metairie is undergoing a major transformation from the days of late-night partying at bars and strip clubs to a more family-friendly environment.
Monday evening the Fat City Marketplace put a spotlight on the revitalized neighborhood.
About three years ago, changes to zoning laws in Metairie provoked outrage. At the time, Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng pushed for stricter zoning to flush out adult-oriented businesses and barrooms in Fat City in hopes of drawing new investors.
"Obviously when you have strip clubs nobody really wants to locate next to a strip club, and those businesses had been there for a long time, but I think they deterred investment and we just weren't successful at neutralizing the area and letting the area's advantages come through," Lee-Sheng explained.
Now she said it is a neighborhood in transition.
"It's happening a lot quicker than I thought it would. We thought this would be a 10- or 12-year plan, and we're seeing it just three years out, so it's really exciting to see," said Lee-Sheng.
This year, four new restaurants have taken up shop in Fat City, some renovating those businesses that were phased out and opening family-friendly restaurants like Akira Sushi and Hibachi and Fat City Franks.
"I saw the potential of what was going on and thought it would be a great location," said Allen Bryant, owner of Fat City Franks.
Longtime Fat City resident and Drago's owner Tommy Cvitanovich is spearheading efforts to draw a new crowd to the area with the Fat City Marketplace.