No news has actually been announced yet as to what exactly is going down at Tujague's, but fearing that the iconic restaurant will become a fried chicken/Madame Begue's Liquid Brunch Drank outpost, many of New Orleans' finest are speaking up in support of the institution as it faces potential shuttering. Last week? about a month after Tujague's owner/operator Steven Latter passed away ? emails and rumors were sent flying that the iconic second oldest restaurant in New Orleans could be closing next month and sold to gift shop guru Mike Motwani to become a fried chicken/t-shirt shop. This week, Errol Laborde, Ann Tuennerman, Poppy Tooker speak out in favor of saving Tujague's from Decatur Street T-shirtdom. And then there's John Besh, who might even want to buy the restaurant.
According to Susan Langenhennig, John Besh is interested in keeping the venerable Creole restaurant open, whether or not that means he will/may buy it is another story. Besh's spokeslady Emery Whalen tells The Times-Pic:
"Wanting to buy it and buying it are two different things entirely. If I could affect a better outcome coming to Tujague's than a T-shirt shop, then I will have done something good for my city. But as for right now, it's just wishing and hoping that Tujague's doesn't close."
New Orleans Magazine'sErrol Laborde writes that "Steven Latter lived for Tujague's," but apparently his brother, Stanford Latter, does not:
According to the rumors, the building on Decatur Street that houses the last of the original Creole Restaurants and the second oldest (after Antoine's) restaurant in the city will be sold to businessman Mike Motwani who is known for converting businesses into tacky, touristy T-shirt and gift shops.
"Please Mr. Latter," Laborde pleads, "keep the legacy of your brother's restaurant alive. At the very least, don't let the builiding fall into the hands of those who don't give a damn about the character of the city."
Tales of the Cocktail's Ann Tuennerman also writes an open letter to Standford Latter this week in hopes he'll think again about selling Tujague's. Here's a particularly juicy part:
Tujaque's is the place that continued the legacy of Madame Begue's legendary brunches and where the Grasshopper cocktail was invented. It's the home of brisket and horseradish and the beautiful long standup bar that takes you back in time when you order a drink. It breaks my heart to picture the doorway of this landmark littered with Drunk 1 and Drunk 2 t-shirts.
On the latest episode Steppin out, Poppy Tooker encourages everyone to:
"Go have a drink at Tujague's. Go have a meal at Tujague's. Pat Mark Latter, Steven's son, on the back and let him know that this community is going to make this ok."
Mark Latter is Steven Latter's son, and is continuing to operate the restaurant. The Tujague's building is actually owned by Stanford Latter. Susan Langenhennig reports that he "has not made a deal yet to sell the property, and he is still weighing his options. He expects to make a decision soon."
· John Besh Expresses Interest in Buying Tujague's Restaurant [NOLA.com]
· All Tujague's Coverage [-ENOLA-]