ShaSha Lounge, New Orleans’ First Cocktail Bar with NFT Membership, Opening Soon
Founders chef Nina Compton and Larry Miller of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro plan to fund local disaster relief efforts with a large percentage of the proceeds.
ShaSha Lounge Social Aid and Pleasure Club is New Orleans’ first cocktail lounge offering NFT membership, opening in 2023 and founded by Chef Nina Compton and her business partner and husband Larry Miller. Compton and Miller are the pair behind New Orleans restaurants Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, and they founded ShaSha with the goal of having money available to help the community in the wake of natural disasters.
“There were some challenging things over the last couple of years here with the pandemic, for people in the service industry,” Miller told Thrillist. “Restaurants shut down and people in town needed help. We were able to cook meals and host fundraisers quickly, but were then smacked with Hurricane Ida. We wondered how we can get ahead of that to have money available so we can make that impact with dollars. We cook; we feed people. But also we need to leverage it with dollars, when we have a need to help the neighbors quickly.”
New Orleans’ traditional and historic social aid and pleasure clubs were founded upon similar principles—helping the community quickly in times of need and having a good time. Funding community relief is something that sets ShaSha Lounge Social Aid and Pleasure Club apart from what many envision when they think of NFTs, blockchain, Web3 and the metaverse. “We want to promote the ideas and advantages of what you can do with NFT," says Miller. "You can rent your NFT and then when it’s expired, that’s it."
Other restaurants (what some are now calling "clubstaurants") charge upwards of $1,000 for their NFT memberships that enable diners to skip the line for a table.
Setting themselves apart from rest comes naturally to Compton and Miller. In December 2020, they partnered with American Express and Resy to provide outdoor service in yurts at Bywater American Bistro. “We did the yurts so we could bring in all our staff, back when restaurants could only operate at a 50 percent capacity indoors," says Miller. "What can we do to make it better without reinventing the wheel?”
Exclusive membership in ShaSha Lounge is available to those who purchase the ShaSha NFT. Benefits of membership include elevated access to the lounge and one-of-a-kind experiences and opportunities, including access to private areas and events at ShaSha, virtual events with chef partners, exclusive content and nationwide dining perks. ShaSha Lounge will include a bar, intimate lounge and private spaces for special events, rare tastings, and cocktail classes. Compton, of course, is creating small plates.
“It’s our own thing and this becomes a little more fun when we bring in all the different partners, programming, cooking classes, demonstrations, and other neat things with local art and music,” says Miller.
Chefs Marc Forgione, Michelle Bernstein, Rodney Scott, Tiffani Faison, and Stephanie Izard are partners in ShaSha, and will collaborate quarterly on new cocktails, participate in live and virtual events for members, develop exclusive content for the community, and individually program the club for one week each year.
“When we came to town eight years ago, we were terrified everyone would think we were carpetbaggers," Miller says. "But we came with immense respect for the city. Didn’t try to reinvent New Orleans, didn’t say we were coming to cook New Orleans Creole food. We are cooking Caribbean Creole. We’re here and we love being part of the city and are happy the city has been accepting of us.”