A boutique eatery under the Perkins Overpass combines vintage flair and modern cuisine
The vintage chairs on the leafy back porch come upholstered with the ghosts of 1930s Germany; the cast-iron railing on the balcony over the parade route, from a rusty antiques yard in Tennessee. The “relic room”—already booked for a January rehearsal dinner—takes its name from the salvaged altar piece dominating the north wall, and the silverware’s stories no one can tell, each spoon, knife, and fork plucked from obscurity during years of collecting. Everything in BLDG 5, from the old family recipes to the eBay exit signs, has been used and diffused through the imagination of Misti and Brumby Broussard, though the ocean-blue spirals painted onto the floor are still fresh from the talents of T.J. Black, the artist living just behind this Kalurah Street restaurant opening its doors this month.
In short, Misti and Brumby know a thing or two about the art of entertainment. After all, before the couple decided to turn their culinary creations and vintage aesthetic into BLDG 5, a new seasonally inspired eatery and market beneath the Perkins Road Overpass, they hung with Hollywood royalty in Los Angeles, where Misti, a Corpus Cristi native, worked in film production, and Brumby, raised in New Iberia, was Julia Roberts’ personal assistant. Yes, that Julia Roberts.
“But ever since the day we met, we talked about moving back to the South one day,” says Misti, now a mother of two. “There’s something about the hospitality and manners that exist here, and Brumby and I always felt like it was important for the kids to grow up in that kind of environment, and to be close to family.”
Well-suited to the eccentricities of the Pelican State, the couple brought with them a complementary background in art and design, having previously operated a high-end, European-style furniture showroom in San Diego. But their personal taste still yearned for less traditional aesthetics, culminating in regular expeditions to antique stores across the country, where they sought out the stories behind paraphernalia of decades past. It was there in the kitchen area of their showroom where Brumby, a graduate of the now-closed Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana, began to bring his love of cooking to the masses, whipping up scents and flavors to flood the building with a sense of home. Once they moved to Louisiana, the Broussards embarked on a small catering business they continued to maintain in their children’s Baton Rouge carpool lane, crafting delectable, fresh meals to be picked up by busy moms and dads.
“Even if I came home at 7 p.m. from another catering event, I would still always want to cook something for us as a family,” says Brumby. “I can’t help it. It’s relaxing.”
BLDG 5—once just the fifth rectangular warehouse on a haphazard property—aims to combine the convenient with the innovative, donning the identities of an eatery, marketplace, bar and indoor/outdoor patio showcasing seasonally rotating menus led by Brumby and head chef Breck Hatcher. Diners can sample and share whichever entrees or small plates suit their palates, from craft sandwiches and soups to multicultural dinners of sharable appetizers and try-what-you-like grazing boards inspired by Mexico, Italy and Israel, to name just a fraction of the flavor possibilities.
“Personally, I’d rather take three bites out of a dozen different dishes than have a big meal all to myself,” says Brumby. “I think that’s why everyone tends to end up in a kitchen during a party. It’s fun to go out to eat with a group of people and try a bunch of different things at once.”
But BLDG 5 also takes into account the reality that not everyone has an hour and a half for a lunch break or a lengthy meal. As a married couple opening a restaurant while raising two young children, the Broussards know that convenience can also be king.
“The idea of the market section is to provide fresh meals for people to take home,” says Misti. “We’ll also be selling things like the spices, pickled vegetables and sauces we use in our own recipes. So if people really like the chimichurri sauce from our steak board, they can purchase it to try at home.” In addition to selling pantry goods and fresh packaged meals to go, the Broussards also plan to run a meal delivery program from the restaurant.
“It can be hard to start a restaurant business while being married to your business partner and raising a family,” says Misti. “But I hope that we’re leading by example, and showing our kids how to work passionately toward your goals. That’s the most important thing.”
At the end of the day, the Broussards hope to create a space where good food inspires good conversation, no matter the origins of the dish or the customer.
“We love listening to our regulars share their stories, incorporating old family recipes or hearing about great meals they had on vacation,” says Brumby. “Much like the way we renovated this space to be open and creative, we don’t need strict walls around what we create in the kitchen.”
There at the intersection of the old and the new, whether through long meals for the quick-witted or short stops for the long-at-work, the joy of creativity shortcuts any pretension in the decor and dishes of BLDG 5.
“Don’t worry,” says Brumby, “you can use ketchup if you want to.”