Ruffino’s to open downtown BR office, catering space

Ruffino’s, the popular restaurant with locations in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, is set to open a location on Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge for its catering business and corporate offices.

Ruffino’s Catering at De La Ronde Hall will take up the second floor of De La Ronde Hall, said Ruffin Rodrigue , who co-owns Ruffino’s with chef Peter Sclafani III.

Rodrigue said for years people had been asking him to expand into downtown.

“Peter and I have so many friends downtown,” Rodrigue said. “They were always asking us when we were coming to their side of town, since we’re almost in Ascension Parish.”

But Rodrigue said he thinks Baton Rouge is “pretty saturated” with restaurants. So he decided to expand the Ruffino’s brand by setting up a permanent banquet facility and establishing a corporate office to look after both of his restaurants.

“It makes more sense to us to have a presence downtown this way,” he said. A full-service Ruffino’s downtown could happen later, Rodrigue said.

Ruffino’s Catering is going into a block of Third Street that is seeing a bit of restaurant activity. Raising Cane’s, which was co-founded by Todd Graves, who Rodrigue called his best friend, will open a location at the corner of Third and Florida this summer.

Triumph Kitchen, a new venture by Chef Chris Wadsworth that looks to train at-risk young men and women for jobs in the culinary industry, recently opened on the first floor of De La Ronde Hall. Cordon Rouge, a French bistro, is set to open later this year at 334 Third St.

Ruffino’s will have about six or seven permanent employees downtown and will have about 30 to 40 employees for banquet events and weddings.

“We’re ready to service events right now,” Rodrigue said. “We’ll do things during the day to freshen up the building, like putting in new carpets and stuff, but it’s a beautiful building.”