In 2003, restaurateur Ralph Brennan took over the building where Ralph’s on the Park resides now. He held a meeting for members of the community to come and learn about the new project. You would think the first question neighbors asked Ralph would be about parking or noise management, all valid concerns for those living near a new restaurant. Instead, the first question was “Can we drink at the bar?” Apparently the previous owner of the locale didn’t allow anyone to come sit at the bar and just have a drink. Instead, he limited bar access to those who were waiting to dine. When Ralph learned of this, it cemented his plan to reorganize the bar space. In the old restaurant, the bar was an afterthought, stuck in the back of the dining room. Now the bar occupies its own welcoming spot where locals can come for an after-work nip or an evening nightcap.
The previous restaurant’s windows were curtained off, but the windows at Ralph’s bar are open, allowing drinkers an unimpeded view of the ancient oaks that grace the park. Ralph wanted to bring the park into the space, and indeed, sitting in the bar feels like sitting on the back porch of the best backyard in town. Even the decor reminds patrons of the location. The walls are papered with images of New Orleanians enjoying the park that were pulled directly from the City Park Archives. My favorite posting is in the ladies’ room and features a beauty contestant who won not just a trophy, but a turkey as well! The drinks menu at Ralph’s sticks with competently poured classics that appeal to Mid-City neighbors. Ralph’s on the Park is a worthy spot if you are visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art or City Park. Pop in and drink like a local.