John Burns, the man who founded Jack & Jake's Public Market, which has been planning to open in Central City since October 2014, has stepped down as CEO, The Times-Pic is reporting. Sounds like he stepped down with some urging from the market's board of directors—ie. "taking a back seat so that operational people can take a front seat," and he still remains on the board himself. Meanwhile, the market (at 1307 O.C. Haley) is now seeking new leadership, so they can get the show on the road as there are many public dollars at stake.
At the whopping 23,000 square foot location in the historic Myrtle Banks school, a $17.7 million dollar renovation (Including $13.8 for historic revamp, $2.2 for market build out, and the rest for start up cost) led by Alembic Community Development has transformed the interior into a completely-stalled sprawling fresh food mecca with chandeliers. The project has received a $1million dollar loan from the city, half of which is forgivable if Jack & Jake's actually serves the community as a grocery store. The rest has been "funded by new market and historic tax credits, $900,000 from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and $300,000 from the Foundation for Louisiana and private investors," but the head of Alembic (and person temporarily in charge of Jack & Jake's) Benjamin Warnke tells The Times-Pic:
Investors have had to come up with additional capital while the market remains closed.
How much they've had to throw in remains unknown.
Previous, glitzy plans for the market have called for a beer cave, a downstairs bar, and even two restaurants. What's still known about the market's plans: Tableau alum/chef Ben Thibodeaux is still on board as the executive chef, and "healthy, artfully prepared foods for takeout and dining in, along with seafood and meat counters and fresh produce" will be available.
As of May 2015, Burns was still claiming the market would open by end of summer, but just over a week ago he was tweeting from a food expo in Milan—perhaps the last straw for Jack & Jake's investors and partners. Reportedly the market still plans to open this fall: "New employees are being hired -- two managers were starting their jobs Wednesday (Sept. 2)— and the final preparations of the market's infrastructure are wrapping up, company leaders said."
Further Coverage: The Advocate, Gambit