Welcome to Eater NOLA’s roundup of all the restaurant, bar, and cafe closures New Orleans diners need to know about in 2020, a year that will be historic for its devastating impact on the industry. These are the New Orleans establishments that have closed their doors permanently in 2020 (rather than temporarily due to the stay-at-home order and restaurant restrictions). If you know of a restaurant, bar, or cafe that has closed for good, let Eater know about it.
Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar — Mid City Creole-Italian restaurant Liuzza’s (not to be confused with Liuzza’s by the Track) is up for sale, with owners Lori and Frank Bordelon telling NOLA.com that they are selling the business to retire. They’d like to see it continue as is under new owners, they said, and will keep the restaurant open as long as they continue to own it. Known for its red gravy, seafood lasagna, and especially the Frenchuletta, a hot muffuletta on French bread instead of the traditional round, it’s been a neighborhood go-to since opening in 1947, despite changing hands a few times.
Saturn Bar — Another beloved New Orleans music venue is up for sale as the pause on live music continues, this time the delightfully grungy St. Claude Avenue Saturn Bar. The Broyard family, who has operated the bar and venue for three generations, has a deal pending with a buyer who plans to keep it a bar, luckily. For a full history of its 60 years, see Ian McNulty’s NOLA.com report.
Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe — Wayne Baquet confirmed the closure of his longtime Treme restaurant to NOLA.com in November, after months of speculation over whether his fried chicken and gumbo would return. The Esplanade Avenue cafe with one of the most-loved lunch buffets in town has been closed since the beginning of the stay-at-home order, with L. Kasimu Harris first reporting in August that Baquet didn’t plan to return to the business. Li’l Dizzy’s is up for sale, and Baquet hopes the business will continue under new ownership.
Meauxbar — The longtime bistro on the outskirts of the French Quarter had its last dinner service on October 25, 17 years after it was opened by Matthew Guidry and James Conte. After a change in ownership and a significant revamp, Meauxbar reopened in 2014 under the LeBlanc + Smith umbrella (which also includes Sylvain, Cavan, and Barrel Proof), with chef Kristen Essig at the helm. Essig left in 2016, but the its refined, French-inspired menu continued to be a destination for regulars and tourists. LeBlanc + Smith reopened its five restaurants with a new model over the summer, one employing a leaner staff that receives a base salary and company-provided health insurance. Robert LeBlanc, owner of the LeBlanc + Smith group, said Meauxbar staff will move over to his other restaurants.
Circle Bar — 21-year old music venue the Circle Bar announced its likely permanent closure last week, with talent booker Michael Bateman writing on Facebook that “it looks like The Circle Bar won’t live on past 2020.” Owner Dave Clements, who also owns Uptown bar Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Lounge, confirmed the same this week to NOLA.com. The storied, tiny club situated somewhat awkwardly on Lee Circle was known for booking up-and-coming local talent and touring bands with small but mighty followings.
Mimi’s in the Marigny — After months of speculation by neighborhood regulars about its future, the permanent closure of Mimi’s in the Marigny was all but confirmed when the beautifully-crafted sign outside of the Royal Street building came down earlier this month. The two-story bar on the corner of Franklin and Royal was all dive on the lower level, with pool tables and a long wooden bar, but boasted a top-notch kitchen and table seating upstairs where customers could order from a tapas menu of items like patatas bravas, mushroom toast, and duck poutine. Mimi’s has not responded to Eater’s attempts to confirm the closure.
Lost Love Lounge — The sign outside of Marigny corner bar Lost Love Lounge came down in September, with owner Muriel Altikriti confirming its closure shortly after. It will be remembered as a true neighborhood bar — dark and lounge-y, with huge screens in both of its rooms, playing anything from football to old movies, and a kitchen that, despite frequently changing hands, always seemed to pump out solid food ranging from Vietnamese to Mexican to cheesesteaks. Altikriti’s equally-loved Arabi bar, Pirogue’s Whiskey Bayou, remains open.
The Munch Factory (LGD) — Alexis and Jordan Ruiz made the decision to close the LGD location of their contemporary Creole restaurant in early September, three years after they relocated there from their original location. Luckily, their newer, second location, which they opened last year in Gentilly remains open for fans of dishes like oysters Gentilly, bread pudding, duck and waffles, and shrimp and grits (fans that include Beyonce and Jay-Z).
Johnny White’s Bar — Three months after the owners of the Johnny White’s trio of bars announced the closure of Johnny White’s Corner Pub on Bourbon Street, the news has come down that the original, Johnny White’s Bar on St. Peter Street, is also closed for good. NOLA.com reported Friday, September 4 that the 51-year old, 24/7 dive bar and local institution will not reopen, citing the financial risk of owning a bar during the pandemic, the uncertainty of a timeline for reopening, and the “manner” in which the local and state governments have handled things. For a full history of the bar, see Keith Spera’s story in NOLA.com.
Bonci Pizza — The third U.S. location of Italy’s acclaimed Bonci Pizza, which opened to fanfare last July in New Orleans’s Warehouse District, has closed permanently. Bonci served Roman-style pizza al taglio, which means “by the cut.” Bonci made its American debut in Chicago three years ago, kicking off an U.S. expansion of the pizza empire built by Gabriele Bonci in Rome. The original Bonci opened his first shop, Pizzarium, near the Vatican museum’s entrance in 2003, and it became an internationally recognized destination, gaining Anthony Bourdain as a fan. The team behind the American expansion is a separate company; the Chicago locations remain open.
DTB — The popular contemporary Cajun restaurant has closed, three years after a celebrated debut and nearly one year after the death of founding chef and co-owner Carl Schaubhut, Effective immediately, “it was the prospect of an uncertain future and an unknown timeline to return to some semblance of normalcy that prompted ownership to make this very tough decision to close.” Schaubhut and business partner Jacob Naquin opened DTB on Oak Street in March 2017 with a menu of fresh, creative “Cajun coastal” dishes, a strong bar program, and solid happy hour. Former Cavan chef Nathan Richard took over as executive chef last August, and remained in the role when Schaubhut died a month later. DTB had just reopened in July for the first time since the start of the pandemic, announcing a new executive chef at the same time.
Bevi Seafood Co. Metairie — After seven years on Airline Drive in Metairie, the original Bevi location will close and reopen under new owners in November. The newer, Carrollton location, which has maintained steady popularity since opening five years ago, will remain open and under the same owners.
Congregation Coffee — A year after replacing Pulp & Grind in the CBD, Congregation Coffee’s first downtown shop has closed permanently. It’s original shop and roastery, which has operated in Algiers Point for over three years, remains open for takeout as well as food pop-ups and events. Eliot Guthrie and Ian Barrilleaux started Congregation Coffee in 2015 after working together at Cochon Butcher, focused on supplying local restaurants, and now sells its coffee to 35 favorites including Herbsaint, Couvant and Marjie’s Grill.
Betty’s Bar & Bistro — Betty’s was most recently known as the 700 Club, a French Quarter gay bar that became a late night eats destination with the arrival of Matt Hayes’s Faubourg Kitchen. When the club’s owner decided not to renew the 700 Burgundy Street lease last year, Hayes took it over, renaming it Betty’s Bar & Bistro but keeping the food and community vibe. Hayes announced the bar’s closure over the weekend, citing “months of failed attempts to reach an agreement with our landlord.” When bars had to close in the spring, Hayes stepped up to use Betty’s kitchen to provide meals to out-of-work hospitality workers with the CrescentCity.com food program.
Namese —Owners of Mid City’s Namese announced via Instagram on July 23 that they had “come to the difficult decision that we must permanently close our doors.” Opened by brother-sister team Denise and Hieu Doan in 2014, it was part of a wave of new-generation Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans that honored tradition while breaking new flavor ground. Namese was loved for beautifully renovating a vacant space in Mid City and for its pho, crabby rice, and banh mi.
Gasa Gasa — Popular Freret Street music venue and bar Gasa Gasa is up for sale, the latest New Orleans music venue to close during the COVID-19 pandemic (D.B.A was placed on sale by owners in April). Co-owner Dane Peterson said that he decided to put Gasa Gasa up for sale when it became clear there was no timeline for the reopening of music venues. It opened in 2013 on a stretch of the Freret Street corridor that was rezoned as an arts district in 2008, and was known for an eclectic lineup of independent artists and bands and hosting pop-up art shows and film screenings.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen — The French Quarter dining institution founded by the late, famed Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme announced a permanent closure after forty years on Monday, July 13. Current owners Brenda Prudhomme (chef Paul’s niece) and Paul Miller, Brenda’s husband and the restaurant’s chef, cited “repeated closings this year due to mandated business restrictions” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen name and business is not for sale along with the building at 416 Chartres Street and will be retired.
Shake Sugary — The charming, bright blue-and-green bakery on St. Claude Avenue closed permanently in mid-July, after cheerily serving the neighborhood pastries, savory snacks, vegan cakes and sweets, and great coffee for years. The space, if all goes according to plan, will be taken over this fall by Bywater backyard taco favorite Rosalita’s.
Polly’s Bywater Cafe — Polly’s joined the Bywater neighborhood dining scene not long ago, replacing St. Claude Avenue’s The Cheezy Cajun. Polly’s offered high-quality diner classics for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner at reasonable prices in a funky, art-filled space with a friendly, warm vibe. It’s a loss for the neighborhood to be sure — but, there is an exciting potential replacement. Acclaimed chef Serigne Mbaye, who has previously cooked at Commander’s Palace as well as Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco and New York, returned to New Orleans to open his Senegalese pop-up Dakar. While currently operating on Saturdays out of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the plan is to eventually move to the Polly’s space with expanded days and hours.
Semolina — After almost thirty years on Veterans Boulevard, the last remaining location of Semolina closes after service today, June 26. A New Orleans-born brand that once had two dozen restaurants in Louisiana and other Southern states, the Clearview mall-based location suffered from the coronavirus shutdown, accelerating the closure. Co-founder Greg Reggio told NOLA.com his Taste Buds company (which also runs the Zea Rotisserie restaurants) plans to open a new Semolina in a different location.
Cake Cafe and Bakery — The popular Marigny cafe will close at the end of June, ending a 13-year run as a beloved neighborhood destination for breakfast classics, pastries, and apple and goat cheese king cake. Steve and Becky Himelfarb said that they’ve decided that with their building’s lease coming to an end “and fresh prospects in sight, professionally, it is time for us to move on.” They are putting the business up for sale, and while there’s been interest, nothing is set. Cake Cafe will continue to offer takeout service Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Sunday, June 28.
Johnny White’s Corner Pub — Beloved Bourbon Street dive bar Johnny White’s has closed after 30 years, as reported Friday, May 22. The White family is selling the building at 718 - 720 Bourbon, which also means the closure of Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall and Johnny White’s Pub & Grill. The out-of-town buyer’s plans for the building are not yet known. The original Johnny White’s Bar at 733 St. Peter Street remains in the family and will reopen when bars can resume operations.
Morton’s The Steakhouse — The New Orleans location of the upscale, Chicago-born steakhouse chain closed this week, along with locations in Denver, Richmond, Rochester, and Indianapolis, with more expected to follow. The chain is owned by Landry’s Restaurants, whose president and CEO Tilman Fertitta has been part of the White House’s COVID-19 restaurant industry roundtables.
Tandoori Chicken Restaurant and Bar — The longtime go-to for a traditional Indian lunch buffet and top-notch curries and tandooris on Cleary Avenue has closed, leaving New Orleans with one less destination (of an already low number) for Indian cuisine. A sign hanging over the restaurant’s former name says that a restaurant and bar called La Costa is opening soon.
Cru by Marlon Alexander — This Marigny restaurant opened in the former home of popular long-timer Feelings Cafe in November 2018. While promising both for its location and its chef (Marlon Alexander, who also previously operated a stall in food hall Pythian Market) the menu was oddly wide-ranging, offering sushi rolls as well as items like mac and cheese and fried chicken sandwiches, and it seemed to struggle to find its footing. Alexander was leasing the property at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Chartres Street.
Second Vine Wine — A true gem, this African American-owned wine shop in the Marigny with a hidden back bar and courtyard sadly closed its doors at the end of March. There are some indications online that it could reopen in a new location in the future, so fingers crossed that it returns as the warm, lively social gathering spot it was on Touro Street.
Chiba — Oak Street’s Chiba has permanently closed after eight years as one of New Orleans’s top spots for sushi. The sleek and spacious restaurant debuted in 2012, and despite some unnecessary airs, the sushi was good — at a time when New Orleans was somewhat lacking in options. With knowledgeable chefs for both the hot and cold menus and an upscale vibe, it became a date night and special occasion destination. Most recently, it was in the news for then-chef Guillermo Cruz’s play on a king cake made entirely with sushi. Owner Keith Drusko eventually moved to and opened a second location of Chiba in Indianapolis in 2017, which remains open.
Bon Ton Cafe — The last dinner service for New Orleans’s third-oldest restaurant as it currently exists is Friday, March 6. Owners Debbie and Wayne Pierce sold the business to the owner of Chophouse New Orleans, the steakhouse across the street, with plans to retire. Pierce told NOLA.com that she as she understands it, the Bon Ton will reopen in late 2020 after a renovation. Bon Ton first opened as a saloon in 1877, then as a restaurant starting in the early 1900s. The Pierce family took over in the 1950s, bringing Cajun country cooking, crawfish dishes, and some of the city’s best gumbo to the city.
La Mensa — The relatively new modern Italian restaurant closed the Saturday before Mardi Gras, after eight months as a promising addition to the French Quarter dining scene. La Mensa replaced the former Trinity, which building owner Hugh Uhalt opened in 2015 after the restaurant that preceded it, Maximo’s, closed after 30 years. For La Mensa, Uhalt brought in the chef of CBD cafe Louise Britten Carboni, who served fresh pasta, pizza, and traditional regional Italian dishes.
Dick & Jenny’s — The longtime Uptown destination for homey but refined Creole-Cajun cooking closed last week, as announced via Facebook on Saturday, February 29. Dick & Jenny’s has existed at 4501 Tchoupitoulas Street for more than 20 years, changing hands three times since original owners Jennifer and Richard Benz opened in 1999. Despite being a popular neighborhood destination for most of its time, the last change in proprietor (2018) and menu wasn’t particularly well-received by customers. The building’s owners are looking to lease the space.
Pho Hoa — After 35 years serving Harvey’s best pho, the family behind Pho Hoa closed shop last week after selling the business to new owners, reports NOLA.com. Founder Tim Vo was among the first to open a pho-focused restaurant in the area, a category New Orleans has since become well-known for. Luckily, the Vo family will consult with the Le family as they transition the restaurant into Pho Truc Lam, which will serve a new menu that consists of Vietnamese staples like pho, spring rolls and banh mi.
Araña Taqueria y Cantina — A go-to Magazine Street spot for margaritas, happy hour, and Mexican nosh, Arana Taqueria y Cantina closed without prior notice over the weekend (February 17), as announced in a video posted by chef Richard Papier. While maybe not the best Mexican in town, the central location and budget-friendly deals made it pretty popular, making the closure somewhat surprising. According to NOLA.com, owners sold the space to Louisiana chain El Paso Mexican Grill. Following light renovations, El Paso is expected to open in March.
Mellow Mushroom — The last area location of hippie college town pizza chain Mellow Mushroom closed last week, reports NOLA.com. The 8227 Oak Street location opened in 2013, during a time of rapid national expansion for the Atlanta-based chain. Locations in Metairie and Covington closed in recent years, so the remaining Louisiana outpost is in Lake Charles. No word yet on what will go in the space.
Aglio — This Italian deli in the CBD abruptly closed up shop at the beginning of February, two and a half years after opening as a promising replacement to the space’s prior sandwich shop, Part & Parcel. The pair behind it were previously instrumental to Part & Parcel, and so kept the deli’s popular face bacon and top-selling items on the menu while adding to its charcuterie and sandwich offerings. Owners announced the impending closure on Facebook with a few days notice, saying they were “deeply saddened and heartbroken.’
Azul — This was the vaguely “sports-themed” restaurant from Danny Millan, a longtime New Orleans restaurant and bar manager who most recently owned and operated Lakeview’s Cava. He closed Cava last spring in part to focus on Azul, which debuted in August after a year and a half in the works. The restaurant, billed as being “family-friendly with a sports theme” rather than as a sports bar, closed in January after just five months.
Shahrazad Cafe — The Uptown Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cafe has closed after an owner’s dispute with the landlord, reports Gambit. Jamal Ismail opened Shahrazad Cafe on Magazine Street two years ago, expanding with a stall in the Place St. Charles food court last year (Baba Ganuj, still open). Ismail tells Gambit he hopes to reopen the cafe in another location Uptown; a deli will move into its current address (4739 Magazine St.).
Toups South — They technically squeezed it in before January, but Isaac and Amanda Toups’ closure of Toups South felt like the first major shutter of 2020. Star chef Isaac Toups and wife/business partner Amanda closed the restaurant inside Central City’s Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFab) after three years to focus on their other projects and restaurant, Toups Meatery. Surprisingly, the museum will expand into the former Toups South space instead of replacing it and host cooking classes, fundraising dinners, and other pop-up “experiences.”