Tony Bertucci, owner of NOLA Flyboarding, is bringing New Orleanians back to the Lakefront with YNOT Dock.
Tony Bertucci (pictured along with his son), owner and mastermind behind NOLA Flyboarding and YNOT Dock, envisioned a place where the young and young at heart could eat, drink, and play while revitalizing the historic Lakefront in eastern New Orleans.
Imagine a place not too far from here, where adults can enjoy live music or watch the big game, parents can enjoy a refreshing adult beverage while kids cool off, hang out and play, and visitors from near and far can soak up the Lakefront.
Until recently, that journey may have taken New Orleanians to the Northshore or just beyond to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now, it’s a quick drive over the high rise to YNOT Dock, which officially opened June 1, the brainchild of the perpetually young-at-heart and infinitely busy Tony Bertucci.
YNOT Dock is a 6,000-square-foot outdoor party hot spot located on 28 acres in eastern New Orleans, flanked by South Shore Harbor, The National World War II Museum’s PT boat dock and shared event space, and the Lakefront Airport. It is poised on the cusp of real estate development about to boom…or at least that’s the plan.
While YNOT Dock currently has live music daily, a fully stocked bar and pub food, a splash pad for kids, and access to NOLA Flyboarding’s full menu of water activities (it has the only Jet Ski rental on the lake), Bertucci has a long list of plans and a wish list for the future, some of which will be developed soon.
YNOT Dock started in 2017 as an offshoot of NOLA Flyboarding (which Bertucci has owned since 2013) as a place for Bertucci’s clients to hang out, cool off, and enjoy food and drinks before and after a Jet Ski or paddleboard on the lake. YNOT Dock was originally located at Brisbi’s Restaurant, which closed its doors in May of this year. Bertucci decided to go ahead with a plan to offer something more to his clients.
“I thought, I already have my boats and insurance, and captains. I have a plumbing business, and construction resources; all I needed was a place,” he said. “The inspiration behind YNOT Dock came from the idea of having a one-stop location for water sports, music, fun, family, drinks, parties and more.”
After booking a large party in 2017, which required food, drink, and facilities, Bertucci decided to make the leap to construct YNOT Dock, combining his fly-board business with hospitality and entertainment.
His plans would soon take a sudden, unexpected turn.
“I got a call from Quickbooks that there was fraudulent activity on my account. It turns out the $14,000 event [I was preparing for] was actually a scam,” he said. “But, after much thought, and some drinks at home, I decided that if I thought this was a good idea, maybe others would too. We went ahead with the first YNOT Dock pavilion at Brisbi’s and had 250 people come out…and that was with no advertising or social media.”
The original 2,000-square-foot YNOT Dock (a play on Bertucci’s first name and a certain carefree Lakefront attitude) began booking parties consistently.
“While at Brisbi’s, we found that there was indeed a demand,” he said. “We booked 35 parties in the short year [of 2017] that we were there.”
But Brisbi’s needed YNOT Dock to relocate due to licensing and zoning agreements, and Bertucci’s fledging business was soon homeless. The unscheduled move to a new location was the business’ second major bump in the road, but one that would prove in the end to be the best move yet.
After an impromptu meeting with the site’s developer, Roland Von Kurnatowski, and a spin across the state in Von Kurnatowski’s private plane, Bertucci settled on a deal to bring music, food, fun and more back to the lake with a revamped YNOT Dock on the grounds of the old casino site at Lakeshore Landing.
Eastern New Orleans Revival The site, which can accommodate 1,200 people, is the former home of the Star Casino, which opened in 1993. Bally’s Casino, which took over in 1995, and its gambling boat with custom-built dock and peninsula, laid the remainder of the foundation for what is currently in place. Bally’s would later shutter its doors and dock in 2004, after a marked downfall in the number of people heading to the Lakefront in eastern New Orleans in the late 1990s.
Hurricane Katrina dealt the area a final blow; the area around the former casino was littered with beached boats, garbage and other debris when the land was returned to the parish in 2006.
Managed by the Orleans Parish Non-Protection Asset Management Board, the area that YNOT Dock sits upon is currently leased by Lakeshore Landing, a development team helmed by Von Kurnatowski, who secured the area with a 50-year lease in 2010.
“The site was developed by Roland Von Kurnatowski, founder of Tipitina’s, with estimated renovations to date approximately $2 million on the grounds as a whole,” Bertucci said.
YNOT Dock had its grand reopening on June 1 at the Lakefront, with revenue reflecting the enthusiasm for the entertainment space.
“We made $16,000 the opening day at the bar,” Bertucci said.
He added that sales have been consistent and growing, despite the typically slow summer months.
“Our sales so far from June 1 through August have been very good considering the late start and zero beforehand marketing,” he said. “Rough sales are around $80,000 [to date.]”
Development plans for YNOT Dock are slated to roll out in stages, with the next construction phase planned for this winter of a new indoor/outdoor bar space and a completion date of early spring 2019, with the further construction later of a new “shore store,” a possible volleyball court, and more beach and water activities available for patrons.
Bertucci also envisions event space for Lakefront weddings, festivals, and music events along the lines of Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
YNOT Dock’s currently activities, such as the splash dock, are free, but Bertucci plans on expanding options to include a “Splash Pad Pass” that will be on sale for $10 to $15 per day. NOLA Flyboarding, located at YNOT Dock, also has water experiences including Jet Ski rentals, paddleboards, kayaks and party barges, with a full menu of prices depending on the experience and length of rental.
“I can’t wait for all of the cool things we have planned for this space,” he said. “We all remember or have family members that remember having fun on the lake. We want to help bring the fun back to the Lakefront. We have music every day we are open, whether it’s a band or DJ. People want to come out and have fun, dance barefoot and sing along to ‘Back That Azz Up.’”
YNOT Dock is a 6,000 square foot entertainment complex that features live music, food, a full bar, party and event space, and a full menu of water sport activities on the lake.
Other Recent New Orleans East Developments:
Micro-brewery with six craft brews, tours, events, and live music
7366 Townsend Place
Completed in March 2017
The National World War II PT Boat Dock
Rides and tours on the historic PT-305
6701 Stars and Stripes Boulevard
Completed in March 2017
Charter planes, aviation school, Messina’s at the Terminal restaurant
6001 Stars and Stripes Boulevard
Originally built in 1934, following an extensive renovation, the Lakefront Airport main terminal reopened in 2013.
Dixie Beer Brewery
Beer brewery, tours, beer gardens, live music and more
on the site of the former MacFrugal’s Warehouse.
3501 Jourdan Road
Completion scheduled for 2020.