When Randall James Borne learned that he had to close his five-year-old restaurant and bar, Randall's at Pierre's, to make way for a new townhouse development, he immediately sought out a new space. He wanted to reopen as soon as possible, but soon discovered that the space he'd found in the 2700 block of Welton Street needed a lot of work. And after getting into a dispute with his new landlord a few months into the renovation project, he suddenly needed to find yet another space.
In December he landed at the former New Climax at 2217 Welton Street, where he opened the next Randall's on December 19, exactly eight months after shuttering the 2157 Downing Street location. (That building, which was home to the legendary Pierre's for decades, is now gone altogether.) Borne says he likes the new space: It’s smaller than the old one, but has a nicer kitchen which his brother, visiting from New Orleans, was cooking in as he spoke. “It’s good," he says. "it’s nice. I was kind of desperate for a place.”
Now called Randall's at New Climax, the restaurant is a family business. Borne is the youngest of sixteen siblings, many of them cooks — and he says he’s not the best in his family. One member inspired him to open the business in the first place: “My brother, Paul, passed away in 1998, and it was his dream to own his own bar and restaurant. So I tried it, and ever since then I’ve been stuck with it.”
Borne started in 1994 with a local food truck, the Cajun King, at 48th Avenue and Dahlia Street. In 2007 he closed that and managed Marion's Lounge; two years later he opened Pierre's on Downing Street.
The New Orleans native brings a touch of home to his food, which is all Cajun and Creole. He creates the recipes and then hands them over to staff. Borne does all the preparation, too, and says he works in the kitchen about half the time. Another Southern tradition he brought to Randall’s is the bell: When a guest (or staff member) rings it once, everyone at the bar gets a shot; twice, everyone in the restaurant gets a shot.
The Welton Street location was pretty much ready for him to move in, with booths lining the walls and a dance floor that doubles as dining space; he just added some televisions. It already had a stage, and Borne is taking full advantage of it, with rotating jazz and funk bands every Friday (6 to 9 p.m., no cover), a twenty-piece jazz orchestra every first and third Tuesday, and a three-piece set the other Tuesdays. The crowd, which tends to be older (forty and up) enjoys the jazz, he says. He had a blues show on Valentine’s Day, and vows that he will never play hip-hop, unless someone decides to sing it during the new Sunday Karaoke.
The new Randall’s is open 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The kitchen is open until 1 a.m. on the weekends and 7 p.m. on weekdays. Borne's happy hour should be called happy day: It starts when Randall’s opens and lasts until 9 p.m. And on Friday, there’s a free buffet starting at 6:30 p.m..