Popular Donaldsonville restaurant The Grapevine reopens

Michael Tortorich

Closed since March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Grapevine Cafe and Gallery in Donaldsonville opened again the night of Sept. 25.

The Grapevine Cafe and Gallery, located at 211 Railroad Avenue in Donaldsonville, opened Sept. 25 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

General Manager Trista Templet said the popular eatery has been in high demand since reopening. Seating for the first weekend back was by reservation only as several parties clamored for a table.

During the months the business remained closed, the bar was remodeled and the kitchen was upgraded, Templet said. A deep cleaning was conducted prior to reopening.

She said many first-time patrons as well as regulars enjoyed meals after the doors opened again for business. 

In just two hours of taking reservations, every available table was booked. The manager had to maintain a waiting list of eager diners.

Templet said the restaurant has been taking precautions, including maintaining distance among tables. They have been rotating seating, as well as requiring masks. The building, which dates back to the 1920s, also has an outdoor seating area.

The Grapevine has been a popular road trip destination for many, as Templet confirmed.

“Literally every area code in Louisiana calls for reservations,” she said. “And we get calls from other states all the time.”

The best-kept secret seems to be getting out to areas outside of Ascension Parish. Word-of-mouth advertising has been a major driver of new patrons, and as Templet said, it has been quite some time since the restaurant has been featured in a publication. Such articles usually drum up new business.

Templet has been a guest on the WAFB morning show. Such coverage has given a jolt to the restaurant.

“Basically, our reputation relies on word of mouth. People just love this place - the ambiance, the food, and the service,” she said.

Located along Railroad Avenue in the Donaldsonville Historic District, the Grapevine serves as a centerpiece of sorts for the downtown area. The historic architecture within the city has attracted tourists to the district, a trend Templet said the restaurant staff welcome.

Local art and occasional live music add to the ambiance. The Avenue Cruisers band has been a regular act over the years.

The manager released the new hours last week, which are: Monday (closed); Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Reservations remain strongly recommended. The staff expects to resume to-go orders this week.

The Grapevine is located at 211 Railroad Ave. in Donaldsonville.