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Ida shuts down Mandeville’s Lakehouse, but for how long

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:35 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of Mandeville’s most historic structures took a beating from Ida and its future is unclear.

The building’s owner is confident that the Lakehouse restaurant can be back up and running in three months, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

The building which houses the Lakehouse restaurant was known for decades as Bechac’s. It dates back to 1830 and New Orleans developer Bernard du Marigny.

Sitting on the edge of Mandeville’s lakefront, protected only by a four-foot seawall, the historic structure has weathered dozens of hurricanes over the years. Now, those storms seem to be happening more frequently.

“I’ve had three 100-year storms in the last 15 or 16 years, it’s not like it used to be,” said building owner Dennis Bechac.

Ida was especially bad.

“Most of the damage was on the first level where we had five or six feet of water push through,” said Bechac.

Luckily, restaurant operator Cayman Sinclair, who leases the restaurant, pulled out most of his equipment and furnishings before the storm, something which had become commonplace.

Sinclair has dealt with more than a dozen floods and is now canceling bookings well into 2022, uncertain as to the restaurants future, something which concerns nearby bed and breakfast owners.

“We have Blue Heron and we have plenty of guests to come for weddings events and rave about the location the atmosphere and the food,” said Steven Federer, the owner of Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast.

Sinclair says he flooded five times just last year and then Ida came along. He says continuing to operate is expensive.

“You can’t ask anybody to deal with something like that on a consistent basis, it’ll wear you down,” said Federer.

Sinclair is still waiting to see what his insurance settlement might be. Long-term, he says he would like to see the building raised. Bechac says it’s a possibility.

“There are opportunities for elevation for commercial buildings, but a building like this one which is a historic landmark does qualify,” said Bechac.

Elevating the restaurant could take up to three years. Bechac hopes to get the restaurant up and running again in a matter of months. But Sinclair says he has a lot to consider before deciding whether to continue operating a restaurant he’s put his heart, soul, and sweat into for 10 years.

The Bechac property was operated as a casino in the 19th century but has mostly operated as a restaurant.

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