Big Freedia to open a hotel and music venue near Frenchman Street in New Orleans

Big Freedia is moving forward with plans to open a new entertainment venue near Decatur and Frenchmen streets that will have a restaurant, music club, pool and micro boutique hotel.

Groundbreaking on the project should begin this spring, according to the bounce artist, who said last week the goal is to have Hotel Freedia open for business by Mardi Gras 2024.

Though the project bears Freedia’s name, the building at 2114 Decatur Street is owned by developer Zach Kupperman, who acquired the property in 2021 for an undisclosed price and is developing the concept with Freedia and several other local investors.

And while it is called a hotel, it will only have five rooms, and will be more of a music club and bar with food and an outdoor pool-party space than a traditional lodging establishment, according to Reid Martin, Freedia’s manager and a partner in the project.

“The hotel is not the economic driver of it,” Martin said. “It’s primarily a music venue and a pool party spot. Think of a country club with a music venue.”

Hotel Feedia will serve as a home base for Freedia’s performances but will also host other local and national musicians, Martin said.

“Obviously, Frenchmen Street is all about local music so we want to have a lot of local music going on, but we’re also interested in having some national music coming in,” he said.

New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia is partnering with real estate developers to open Hotel Freedia in the New Orleans Marigny, slated to be ready for Mardi Gras 2024.
New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia is partnering with real estate developers to open Hotel Freedia in the New Orleans Marigny, slated to be ready for Mardi Gras 2024.

Lifelong dream for Big Freedia

Freedia said the idea for the project came while spending time at home in the kitchen during the pandemic and cooking family soul food recipes to share with friends and neighbors.

“Not being able to go out and work during the pandemic, cooking brought so much light and creativity it just really got me interested in doing a restaurant,” Freedia said. “And I always had a dream of opening a hotel, so it just kind of came together that way.”

Those dishes will be the inspiration for the food served at Hotel Freedia in its 60-seat restaurant, though Freedia will not be the executive chef or actually work in the restaurant. Martin said details about who will run the restaurant are still being finalized.

Freedia and Kupperman began collaborating on the idea for the project two years ago, and Kupperman acquired the building with the Hotel Freedia concept in mind.

The property includes a 4,800-square foot building with two floors and an adjacent space that originally housed a garage. In the months since, Kupperman has demolished the garage, which was partially destroyed by a fire.

The restaurant and music venue will be located on the ground floor. The hotel rooms will be on the second floor, and the pool and clubhouse will be in the adjacent open space.

“There are a lot of operational challenges we’re going to face by doing so much on such a small parcel,” said Martin, who estimates the redevelopment cost about $5 million. “We’ve been working on it for more than a year, but we still have a lot to do.”

NFT access

Freedia discussed the details of the project at a recent gathering at The Nieux, the former Eiffel Society venue on St. Charles Avenue that has been reinvented as a place-based NFT community for artists and creative types.

Freedia offered those at the gathering a discount membership to Hotel Freedia for the equivalent of $750 in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, with which NFTs are bought and sold. The NFTs will serve as access tokens to Hotel Freedia’s music performances and to the pool and clubhouse, though they do not represent an ownership stake in the business.

Martin said membership in Hotel Freedia will not necessarily be limited to NFT holders, but he said the NFT concept is an intriguing way to try marketing the venue.

“We’re experimenting right now,” he said. “For now, it’s the only way to buy a membership, but eventually we might sell using traditional currency.”