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New Orleans’s Saddest Restaurant Closures of 2019

The now-closed establishments we’ll miss most in the new year

Gene’s Po-Boys closed in August after nearly 50 years
Julia Elizabeth Evans

So many exciting new establishments opened up in New Orleans this year, and plenty more are on the way in 2020. As the year winds down, though, Eater New Orleans took a look back at the restaurants and bars that bowed out over the past year.

There’s so much to look forward to in 2020, but let’s take a few moments to remember the best establishments New Orleans lost this year.

Gene’s Po-Boys

After nearly 50 years serving up hot sausage po-boys to locals, bar-hopping tourists, and the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Homer Simpson, iconic New Orleans sandwich shop Gene’s Po-Boys closed this past summer. Adding to the sting of loss was the news the building would be developed into condos.

Gene’s made recent appearances in pop culture, as a backdrop in Drake’s “In My Feelings” video and in an instant-classic 2018 episode of The Simpsons. The 24-hour shop was perfectly positioned for post-Frenchmen Street and St. Claude Avenue bar hopping, it’s Pepto-Bismol pink paint job serving as an unofficial neighborhood landmark.

Morning Call at City Park

Morning Call/Facebook

The 10-month beignet battle over City Park’s Casino Building finally came to an end in January, with 150-year old beignet outlet Morning Call losing the location it occupied since 2012 to Cafe du Monde.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with Cafe du Monde, but it was nice to have beignet diversity in the city, especially after Morning Call closed its longtime Metairie cafe. Morning Call is back in action in Hammond at Streetside Market, and plans to revive it in New Orleans is in the works for a proposed development at Canal Boulevard and City Park Avenue.

Echo’s Pizza

Echo’s is now a Pizza Domenica
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Echo’s Pizza, located in a historic corner building on Banks Street, brought together the pair behind beloved Mediterranean spot 1000 Figs and Kate Heller, baker and proprietor of Leo’s Bread. The crew opened Echo’s at the end of January 2018 after a lengthy renovation of the space, and it quickly became a neighborhood destination for bubbly pizza and its wood-fired bagels.

The team closed it this summer, and BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group) opened a second Pizza Domenica in its place. We’ll miss Echo’s good vibes, good people, and even better pizza. Luckily, we can look forward to Heller’s plans to open her own bakery in the new year.

Praline Connection

Praline Connection/Facebook

The co-founders of Frenchmen Street Creole classic the Praline Connection sold their business late last year to Aaron Motwani, who owns local chain Willie’s Chicken Shack. After closing in November 2018, Motwani immediately relocated it to the French Quarter. It only lasted a few months before he shut down the restaurant operation at 301 Decatur Street in March.

He vowed at the time to bring back the restaurant eventually, but there’s been no new news since. Now, the French Quarter address is a tourist-oriented candy shop, and the original Frenchmen Street location is a Willie’s Chicken. The Motwanis strike again.

Brothers III Lounge

Known for its low ceilings, friendly bartenders, and cheap drinks, Mr. Johnny’s Brothers III Lounge, with its bright yellow exterior, stood out on trendy Magazine Street. It was a welcome and seedy relief from the world of ritzy cocktails, with some of the most loyal regulars in town.

Sadly, Mr. Johnny (John Silvy Jr.) died in July, and the bar hasn’t reopened since then. While it’s future is unclear, the property is still owned by a company registered to Silvy.

Do you have a hot restaurant tip? Noticed a spot in your neighborhood opening or closing? Leave a comment or send an email.

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