by Stefanie Powers
Jay Ecker, musician and owner of Rikenjaks, had a vision for a downtown venue that became the Panorama Music House. In its brief existence, it brought local music, good food and cool vibes to a building that had many incarnations in its lifetime, including the original location of Rikenjaks.
The disastrous weather events of 2020 changed all that.
“Winds from Hurricane Laura blew out the front wall of the upstairs music museum and destroyed most of the artifacts stored there,” Ecker says. “The roof was also severely damaged. Then, rains from Hurricane Delta soaked the inside of the building.”
In the aftermath of the hurricanes, there were many hurdles to overcome. “Without the front wall, the structural integrity of the building was compromised, and an engineer had to be consulted to design a metal superstructure to support the building,” Ecker continues. “Also, our restored historic sign was almost completely destroyed, although we were able to save a piece to use on an inside wall. A local company, Acme Signs, is installing a replica of the original.”
Ecker says their first contractor was an out-of-state company that did mitigation, tearing out the damaged interior. “They proved to be unscrupulous, and we had to cut our ties with them,” he says. “We are currently involved in litigation with them.
For the actual rebuilding, local engineer David Minton, architect Jeff Kudla and PERC building contractors were engaged to design and complete the renovations. “There are many challenges to doing a complete renovation of a 115-year-old building,” Ecker says. “These, along with delays caused by COVID-19 have pushed the opening date from the original October 2021 until spring 2022.”
As the renovations began, it was clear that some changes could be made to the original design.
“We chose to treat this disaster as an opportunity, so we worked with our architect to design some new features for the historic building,” he continues. “The destroyed upstairs room has been reimagined as Lake Charles’s first rooftop bar and features a brand-new mural by Jeremy Price. We also turned a space formerly used as an office and apartment into a private event and gallery room.”
Ecker says that as of this writing, the plan is to open the downstairs on Fat Tuesday (March 1), with a grand opening of the entire facility to come later in the spring.
Panorama Music House, 331 Broad St. Lake Charles 70601, 337-602-6343, firstname.lastname@example.org, thepanoramamusichouse.com, and find them on Facebook.