Alon Shaya has announced where he will open his new, modern Israeli restaurant — and its location means that Uptown is losing Kenton’s, a restaurant that had become a steadfast destination for an excellent old-fashioned, wood-fired oysters, and other contemporary Southern dishes. Kenton’s will close after dinner service on March 18, according to a press release sent out this morning. Saba, Shaya’s new restaurant, will open in the spot this spring. It’s one of two restaurants he revealed plans for just over a week ago. The other restaurant will open in Denver.
Shaya has known Sean Josephs and Mani Dawes, the folks behind Kenton’s, “for years” and they reached out to him about taking over their lease after they struggled to meet their “financial goals,” according to a NOLA.COM report.
Dawes and Josephs opened Kenton’s in 2015 in a space renovated with a sleek look, a nod to the genteel sport of horse racing, an impressive selection of whiskey, and wood-fired oysters served on real oyster plates. It was planned as an all-day dining destination, a place to come for lunch or dinner any day of the week.
Recently, Kenton’s limited its lunch to only Fridays, but kept its popular Early Bourbon happy hour. An unlimited cocktail option was added for brunch within the last two weeks.
The Times-Picayune reports that Josephs will focus on Pinhook, a new whiskey brand with which he has partnered (it was also the whiskey of choice in the Kenton’s old-fashioned). Dawes will shift her focus to the couple’s New York restaurants, Tía Pol and Maysville. The family will stay in New Orleans and announce a new venture soon, Dawes said in the press release.
Shaya has been in a much-publicized battle with John Besh over his surname, which is also the name of the contemporary Israeli restaurant he opened with Besh in 2015, just down the street from Saba.
He is no longer involved with Shaya the restaurant, and says he was fired because he spoke to Brett Anderson for his watershed report on rampant sexual harassment in Besh’s restaurant group. Shaya the restaurant opened in 2015 and quickly won the 2016 James Beard award for Best New Restaurant, while sous chef Zachary Engel won a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef the following year.
Engel has also left Besh’s restaurant group to join Alon Shaya’s new hospitality company, Pomegranate Hospitality, which is the parent company of both his new restaurants.
The restaurant announcements smartly coincide with the release of Shaya’s new cookbook, Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.
- Alon Shaya Will Open Restaurants in New Orleans and Denver [ENOLA]
- Alon Shaya’s New Restaurant Takes Over Kenton’s on Magazine Street [NOLA.COM]
- Tracking Alon Shaya’s Split From John Besh [ENOLA]
- Tracking the John Besh Sexual Harassment Allegations [ENOLA]
- Chef Alon Shaya Steps Out on His Own With New Company [ENOLA]
- Chef Alon Shaya’s New Book Is as Much a Memoir as It Is a Cookbook [E]