Incredibly sad news this evening. Beloved wine fanatic, cofounder of Bacchanal and Bywater trailblazer Chris Rudge has passed away at 40 years of age, Brett Anderson reports this afternoon. Rudge opened Bacchanal with friend and fellow FSU alum Beau Ross in 2002, immediately garnering acclaim as a wine shop with the funky spirit that New Orleans so values, and making the neighborhood a wine, food and live music destination way before the hipster revolution. In the wake of Katrina, the spirit of their signature 'backyard party' really took hold, and numerous chefs including Nathaniel Zimet, Dan Esses, Ian Schnoebelen, and more popularized the amazing pop-up style dinners at Bacchanal until permitting became an issue and a regular kitchen had to be installed.
Joaquin Rodas, Bacchanal's chef, tells Anderson that Rudge was just hanging out as usual at Bacchanal last night. This morning, friends found him unresponsive in his Bywater home. No cause of death has been determined at this time. Here's a throwback of Rudge and his beloved shop.