At the beginning of next year, French Quarter stalwart, Irene’s Cuisine, will get a new home on Bienville Street, just seven blocks from its current location. The Louisiana State Museum, the landlord, decided not to renew the lease for the French Quarter icon. The announcement, made on the restaurant’s Facebook page, was reported by Todd Price.
The move has been in the works for two years. In 2015, the Times-Pic reported that the Louisiana State Museum would likely not renew the lease, but would wait until 2017 to make a final decision.
Here’s the background: The Louisiana State Museum purchased the building where Irene's is located in the early aughts with the stipulation that tenant/restaurateur Irene DePietro could finish out her 15-year lease (which ends February 28, 2018).
In 2015, museum director Mark Tullos announced that while the museum loves Irene, the restaurant "should leave." It comes down to this: The Louisiana State Museum has needs. It also has “300 years of history over an open flame,” with part of the museum’s collection stored in the building above the restaurant. The final issue is that the rent is far below market value.
According to public records reviewed by the Times-Pic, Irene's Cuisine’s new location at 529 Bienville Street was purchased in 1997 for $835,000 by a corporation registered to DiPietro.