New wine pub Copper Vine opens in historic restaurant location

This story first appeared in the November issue of the PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door each month? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!

This fall, Copper Vine, a new wine pub, opened its doors inside the historic building that once housed Maylie’s, one of New Orleans’ longest-running restaurants. With a courtyard shaded by a canopy of tropical plants and an impressive selection of wines on tap, the gastropub offers a moment of respite from the hustle and bustle of the Central Business District.

Located at the corner of Poydras and O’Keefe streets, Copper Vine is the newest endeavor of Brechtel Hospitality, which also owns the Walk-On’s sports bar next door. Kyle Brechtel, owner and president, lived in the neighborhood and dreamed about transforming the space long before it became a reality. “My apartment looked at this building,” he said. “I just fell in love with the old building.”

At the time, it housed an Irish pub, but the building had a storied history, which landed it an individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places and landmark status from the Historic District Landmarks Commission.

Photos by Brandt Photography

Maylie’s restaurant opened at the corner of Poydras and Dryades (now O’Keefe) in 1876 to serve customers from Poydras Market, which was once located in the Poydras Street neutral ground.

The current building was built in 1894 as an expansion to the original space, with a bar located on the first floor and the Maylie family’s residence on the upper floors. The original Maylie’s building fell victim to the city’s widening of O’Keefe Street in 1959, but the restaurant continued to operate out of the 1894 building until closing its doors in 1986, after 110 years of service.

The building sat vacant for nearly a decade until being rehabilitated in the late 1990s for a Smith & Wollensky’s steakhouse, only to be shuttered once again in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Brechtel’s business partner Rick Farrell bought the building and the one next door in 2010, opening the Irish pub and Walk-Ons.

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When Brechtel took over operations two and a half years ago, he wanted to convert the space into something that would be more suitable as a neighborhood gathering spot and honor the history of the building.

Copper Vine differentiates itself from the adjacent sports bar with a selection of wines on tap and a gastropub menu that Brechtel describes as elevated comfort food. “It lends itself to certainly a night out, but is also a convenient place to come and grab something to eat if you live right around here,” he said.

Copper Vine patrons can dine in the lush — and very Instagrammable — patio with seating beneath the shade of well-manicured tropical plants. Wisteria vines have been replanted to pay homage to the massive wisteria plant that once grew in front of Maylie’s. The building’s exterior proudly shows off its late Victorian architecture, with a cast iron balcony and additional outdoor seating beneath a bracketed overhang.

Photos by Brandt Photography

Modern design elements and historic character intermingle within the new space designed by New Orleans-based Studio West Design & Architecture and Spackman Mossop Michaels Landscape Architects.

On the first floor, the oak bar is the focal point of the interior. The bar is original to the space, but sleek new copper wine taps are now prominently on display on the wall behind it. Leather stools surrounding the bar are reminiscent of modern Danish design, as are the globe light fixtures perched above.

“The bar and the millwork are original, but before we did this project, the space was so dark that you couldn’t appreciate it,” Brechtel said. “We really wanted to lighten the space up so you could appreciate a lot of the details that were here.”

Photos by Brandt Photography

The seating on the first floor consists of a communal walnut table with leather bar stools, blue velvet banquettes and round high-tops. Vintage photographs of Maylie’s hang on the walls. Upstairs is Copper Vine’s more traditional dining space, with two separate dining rooms as well as balcony seating overlooking the New Orleans skyline.

Copper Vine’s Chef Mike Brewer studied menus from Maylie’s restaurant and drew upon many of its Creole influences. The food puts a modern spin on more traditional dishes: gumbo is served over boudin rice with a quail egg, and deviled eggs are topped with jumbo lump crab meat.

 

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Photos by Brandt Photography

 

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