Photo courtesy of The Spotted Cat Music Club
by Thomas Roney
Just a few blocks over from the hustle of tourists in the French Quarter lies Frenchmen Street. The street is lined with local bars, stores, a record shop, art galleries and an art market. Out of all the bars on this busy eclectic street, there is one that locals, visitors and celebrities alike all know and love, The Spotted Cat. Journalist and media personality Anderson Cooper has spoken of his love for The Spotted Cat, and CNN even broadcast its annual New Year’s Eve celebration from inside the bar last year.
From the exterior, The Spotted Cat looks like your typical New Orleans dive bar, but the moment you step inside you can feel the energy. Live music plays on a small stage at the front in the large window of the facade. Walking in, The Spotted Cat is dim. The only thing lit up is the stage and an ATM in the back for the cash only bar. Hanging on the walls above the bar are t-shirts for sale and paintings from local artists. In the ladies room, if you’d like to play your own music, there’s a piano you can use while you wait for a stall. These things only add to the quaintness of the Frenchmen Street staple. From the live bands to the bartenders to the artistic local flair, there is no shortage of character in The Spotted Cat. Two people keeping that character in tact are managers Brad and Cheryl Clement, referred to by friends and colleagues as the Beyoncé and Jay-Z of Frenchmen.
When you hear the names Beyoncé and Jay-Z, you immediately think power couple, and that is exactly what Cheryl and Brad are. Cheryl began working at The Spotted Cat in 2010 while working as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and case manager at Touro Infirmary. Brad joined the crew a few years later in 2012 while also bartending at TGI Fridays. After working together for a while, the two became friends and, as the story goes, their friendship slowly developed into more. The two went on a trip to Brad’s hometown of Tampa and visited the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, the very spot where Brad knew Cheryl was the woman he was going to marry.
“Where Brad’s was a moment of realization, mine was a culmination of moments,” Cheryl admits.
A simple photobooth picture of Brad and her daughter Fallon, a souvenir from their shopping trip to Old Navy, was the sign Cheryl needed to ensure her Brad would be a great father.
“When I fell in love with Cheryl, I didn’t just fall in love with her. I fell in love with Fallon too,” Brad said.
Being a blended family is no obstacle for the pair. Brad comes from a Jewish upbringing while Cheryl was raised in a Catholic-Filipino home. As a family, they have adopted certain aspects of each other’s culture.
“Fallon loves Hanukkah now, especially when she learned you had eight days of getting presents,” Brad said laughing.
These two are clearly #winning at their home life, but what makes them such a force in the workplace?
The pair not only run The Spotted Cat, but they also help manage Cafe Negril, a neighboring reggae bar. Not to mention, they’re opening a second location of The Spotted Cat. Brad and Cheryl’s opposing personalities complement each other in their work. Brad describes Cheryl as Type A, while he is not. Brad’s weakness is Cheryl’s strength. In this way, they are both opposing sides of a scale, forever balancing each other out.
“We keep each other’s ego in check,” Cheryl said.
The two are unanimous in what their favorite thing about the music at The Spotted Cat is — each band does a version of Fats Waller’s song “I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby.”
“They all put their own spin on it,” Cheryl said. “We love hearing the different versions.”
Spending extra time together is this couple’s favorite part of tending to The Spotted Cat. One of their most memorable times working the bar together was when they opened The Spotted Cat during Hurricane Isaac.
“We were the only bar open on Frenchmen, and we had a generator running,” Cheryl said. “We wanted to have a place for the regular locals to come and relax during and after the storm.”
They admit sometimes it is tough separating work from home, but sharing in their triumphs both at home and work make it all worth it.
“Being able to not only run two successful businesses, but also being able to run a household and raising our children the right way is very important,” Cheryl said.
From an outsider looking in, the pair work together like finely tuned gears. Whether it’s taking care of their children or slinging drinks at the bar, you can see this couple is perfectly in sync. Their love for each other and their family is as loud and bright as the music heard inside The Spotted Cat.