Dead Rabbit New Orleans

Dead Rabbit NOLA poised ahead of US roll out

21 October, 2019

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York will open a site in New Orleans' French Quarter next year ahead of a US, then global expansion, Drinks International can exclusively reveal.

The Irish bar concept, which was opened by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry in 2013 and named the World’s Best Bar in 2016, plans to replicate the New York bar’s ground-floor Taproom concept, bringing its Guinness, Irish Coffee and high-volume cocktails to multiple cities across the US.

For the pair who announced themselves on the US stage with the pledge to open the world’s best bar, the mission has changed. The new aim is to create “the best Irish bar in every city”.

McGarry exclusively told DI: “We won’t be happy until Dead Rabbit is in every major city in the US. Then we’ll take it global. When we retire we want to know we’ve brought the Irish bar into the 21st century.”

Muldoon added that he hoped there would be a new Dead Rabbit launched “every 18 months”, and if all goes well, “ten sites in ten years” is achievable, he said. 

Dead Rabbit’s beverage director Jillian Vose has come on board as a partner in the new sites, the focus of which will be cities with favourable trading conditions and populations of more than 400,000.

The trio are already looking at sites in Nashville to open their third Dead Rabbit, should the New Orleans branch prove a success.

Dead Rabbit NOLA

The New Orleans site, which will open next year, is located in Conti Street, in the tourist-strewn French Quarter.

Muldoon told DI New Orleans is the first city of call as it has “everything we are looking for”. He said: “It’s a fun city, a drinking city. It’s all about hospitality and fun. There will be plenty of tourists in the French Quarter. We like that kind of business – tourists from Ireland, UK and across America. We will pride ourselves on the biggest collection of Irish whiskey, the best Guinness and great Irish coffee. We’ll also do the merchandise.”

Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee

The Dead Rabbit's Irish Coffee

Dead Rabbit New Orleans will open as a pop-up with a limited menu (focused on its Irish Coffee) during Tales of the Cocktail in July 2020, before launching properly a few months later.

The cocktails will replicate those of the New York bar’s Taproom. Vose said: “There will be 12 cocktails and in terms of training it’ll be a cut and paste from our New York operation, so our offering is consistent.”

The new site shares similarities with Dead Rabbit New York, not least that it is a period building over three floors that was built in the 1820s. “It’s a tri-level space, like 30 Water Street,” said McGarry. “The first floor will be mostly standing, but will continue upstairs which will be seated and has an outside space. There will be space for 120 people with about 30-40 people on the third floor."

Taking control

Frustrated by operational costs in New York – spiraling rents and fast-rising minimum wages – the trio has decided future Dead Rabbit locations will be more competetive on business costs. 

McGarry told DI: “We’ve seen a 200% increase in minimum wage and rent increases in NYC. In New Orleans we’ll pay above the market rate and make sure our people are looked after, but the minimum wage there is lower in line with the cost of living.”

New sites will also be bought rather than rented by the group, avoiding high rents. “If we own the real estate, we therefore own the decision making,” said McGarry, adding: “We will be seeking additional investors in each city. We don’t need it but we want it to be beneficial to the communities and it’s helpful to have someone on the ground.”

Should the US roll out prove successful, an international expansion of the Dead Rabbit group will focus on large hub cities such as London and Singapore.

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