The matriarch of a New Orleans family-owned restaurant group, Deanie’s Seafood, died from coronavirus complications at Ochsner Medical Center Saturday night, the family announced yesterday. Barbara Chifici was 77.
Chifici came from a large Italian family of New Orleans restaurateurs, according to the statement. Her and her late husband Frank Chifici operated two restaurants before taking over Deanie’s on Lake Avenue in 1982, nearly two decades after its founding as the first seafood market in the fishing village of Bucktown. After the Chifici family took over, they went on to open a location in the French Quarter in 2001 and on Magazine Street in 2018. Over the years, Deanie’s has become a locals favorite known for boiled and fried seafood platters, crawfish Étouffée, and seafood po’ boys. The family celebrated 38 years of ownership in April 2020; according to the statement, Chifici “remained a fixture at the restaurants” until this past spring when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“Mrs. Chifici leaves behind seven children and a deep legacy in the New Orleans culinary world,” the statement said in part. Five of her children remain involved in the operations of Deanie restaurants. “She instilled a genuine sense of hospitality, quality, family, and pride into everything she did,” said son and general manager Darren Chifici. The family says Deanie’s has employed nearly 300 staff members and served more than 1 million guests annually at their three restaurants.
Funeral arrangements are pending. All three Deanie’s Seafood locations remain in operation.
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