New Orleans experienced some devastating restaurant closures in 2020, but the initial damage to the city’s famous restaurant industry was generally less than feared. As 2021 winds down, however, the city has seen more spots shutter as of late, most of which cite some combination of Hurricane Ida-related damage or losses, an extra-slow summer season, and 20 months of an ongoing pandemic that’s led to massive labor and supply shortages for the food service industry.
Of course, restaurants close even when there isn’t a public health crisis ravaging the industry, so here Eater keeps track of all the important food world closures New Orleans diners need to know about. These are the New Orleans establishments that have closed their doors permanently in 2021, rather than temporarily due to changing pandemic restrictions. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or cafe that has closed for good, let us know about it.
Upperline, Joanne Clevenger’s acclaimed Creole restaurant that’s remained closed for the duration of the pandemic, is officially done. Clevenger, who’s been a repeated finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurateur award and is widely known for setting the bar for guest hospitality, spoke to the Times Picayune | New Orleans Advocate about her decision, saying that at 82 and with 40 years of running the business under her belt, she is ready to let it go. The building is up for sale, and Clevenger says she and her son will consider selling the business, with name and recipes, but only if the buyer is right.
Citing nearly two years of repeated losses related to the pandemic, Hurricane Ida, and multiple break-ins, New Orleans’s beloved ramen-turned-fried-chicken restaurant has closed. The news comes two months after owner Hieu Than made a surprise shift to selling fried chicken, citing rising food costs — Than explained that each bowl of Kin’s ramen contains over 30 ingredients, making it nearly impossible to turn a profit. Kin’s loyal fans were unbothered, and went along with the transition, but the losses continued with another break-in weeks later. In his announcement, Than said that while he’s “not entirely ready” to say goodbye to the food industry, he is ready to say goodbye to Kin, at least for now.
Borgne, the seafood-centric restaurant in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans opened in 2012 by BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group) has closed, reports NOLA.com. Like Upperline, the restaurant has remained closed throughout the pandemic, and BRG chose not to renew its lease within the hotel when the time came. Borgne’s co-founder, chef Brian Landry, left the partnership in 2018 and now heads up his own hospitality group, which runs the restaurant and rooftop bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel. The Hyatt is reportedly on the hunt for a replacement restaurant, with hopes of opening sometime in 2022.
Hurricane Ida spelled the end for Em Trai — at least as the Vietnamese street food restaurant existed on St. Claude Avenue for the last two years. Tung Nguyen is relocating his restaurant, which he opened after years of operating as a vendor in St. Roch Market food hall in September 2019 — to Veterans Boulevard in Metairie. NOLA.com’s report says Nguyen saw his business drop 70 percent throughout the course of the pandemic, only to be further obliterated by Hurricane Ida. When he didn’t see business return after the storm, he decided to move to a new, smaller space in Metairie, where he’s had success with catering orders. That location is set to open at 3802 Veterans Blvd., next to Dixie Taverne, in the coming weeks.
Eight years after Kebab opened on St. Claude Avenue in what was an exciting arrival at the time, the affordable doner kebab sandwich shop has closed, reports NOLA.com. Owner Walker Reisman cited Hurricane Ida as the final blow to a business already suffering from the pandemic, bringing an end to the European-style neighborhood kebab shop that he and a former business partner first opened in 2014.
There was a time when New Orleans had no Philly cheesesteaks to speak of; then Liberty Cheesesteaks opened on Freret Street in 2013 and the city was saved from that plight. It later moved to an even bigger space down the street, and owner Michael Casey eventually opened a second location in Harahan. Now Liberty Cheesesteaks in New Orleans is no more, closing for good on October 27. A sign posted on the restaurant door during its final week says the Harahan location, which received significant damage from Hurricane Ida, is slated to open sometime in December.
Pho Cam Ly
Pho Cam Ly opened in November 2014 amid a wave of pho spots to hit New Orleans’s Uptown, distinguishing itself with two sizes of its fragrant pho and a jade Buddha at its entrance whose belly customers were instructed to rub for good luck. Owner Kristina Bui also credits a combination of the pandemic and the loss of business following Hurricane Ida, closing for good in mid October. Bui and her family are headed to Texas, Bui said upon announcing the closure via Facebook, exemplifying another struggle for New Orleans’s food world — a seemingly recent trend of people leaving the city.
After five years in business, elegant Magazine Street restaurant Cavan closed for good in mid September following Hurricane Ida, with owner Robert LeBlanc citing extensive storm damage, a slower-than-ever summer season, and the ongoing pandemic as contributing factors behind the closure. “We are understaffed and undercapitalized across the board, and if we tried to reopen everything at once, it wouldn’t work. [With] closing Cavan, it’s easier to take the hit myself than to ask others to take a hit,” LeBlanc told Eater earlier this month. The restaurant will continue to host the private events it was previously booked for over the coming months, he says, and he may reassess its future down the line.
Britten and David Carboni moved their breakfast and lunch eatery from the CBD to the Marigny in 2020 once the pandemic kept all the office workers at home, taking over the former beloved Cake Cafe spot. The neighborhood newcomer served the likes of breakfast burritos, veggie bagels, and shrimp and grits, but was listed as permanently closed as of late September 2021.
Porch and Patio Cafe
The owners of Kenner’s family-friendly wine and beer garden the Porch and Patio Cafe announced its closure in late September, saying they are “headed in a different direction” after three years running the restaurant and popular private event venue. They closed out their run with four final days of festive food and drink, live music, and lots of memory-sharing with customers.
Trolley Stop Cafe
It’s the latest loss of one of New Orleans’s iconic greasy spoons (following St. Charles Tavern last year), marking a sad reality for the city’s beloved 24/7 eateries. The Trolley Stop Cafe on St. Charles Avenue is permanently closed as of September 2021, reports the Advocate/Times-Picyaune, after 26 years serving breakfast, coffee, and Louisiana favorites to regulars and tourists. It was the focus of a 2019 episode of Gordon Ramsay’s television show 24 Hours to Hell and Back, which showed the menu being overhauled, perhaps to the restaurant’s eventual detriment, and the front facade being made over, likely a more successful update. As of now, no change of permit applications have been filed for the address, and the building’s future is unknown.
While Oxlot 9 is across the lake in Covington, its debut still made waves on the South Shore — proprietors Amy and Jeffrey Hansell were highly acclaimed for their modern and ambitious use of the Gulf Coast bounty, drawing many a diner from New Orleans to its digs in the Southern Hotel. The hotel is planning an expansion, its owners told NOLA.com in July, and apparently the plans led to the dissolution of the partnership between the couple and hotel. Earlier in 2021, the couple opened a restaurant in Bay St. Louis called Thorny Oyster. in the newly-built Pearl Hotel, which they continue to operate.
Not long after openings in new digs on Frenchmen Street, the delicious Middle Eastern food stall-turned restaurant Torshi has closed. It took over the former Frenchmen Street Mona’s Cafe back in April after several years operating a stall in St. Roch Market followed by a few months serving out of Marigny restaurant Silk Road, much to the delight of loyalists to Rafik Abohattab’s Egyptian specialties and silky-smooth hummus. The address, 504 Frenchmen Street, sits empty for now.
The beloved Eat New Orleans closed in June after 15 years in its quiet French Quarter digs, where chef/owner Jarred Zeringue delivered polished breakfast plates and Creole classics like fried catfish, shrimp and grits, and red beans and rice to happy regulars. It’s a loss for the city, but another local breakfast gem, Wakin’ Bakin’ is expanding with a third location there, and Zeringue can be found at Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse in LaPlace overseeing the making of its famous andouille, according to NOLA.com. He’s also working on a cookbook scheduled to come out next year.
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
Back when the first New Orleans outpost of this Alabama-style barbecue chain opened near the Tulane and Loyola university campuses in 2015, New Orleans was still coming into its own for barbecue. Flash forward six years and New Orleans is known as one of the best barbecue cities around. In June, local franchisees Bryan Hargett and Stephen Lane decided not to renew their Calhoun Street lease, instead closing the Uptown spot to focus on their second location in Metairie, which they opened in 2019.
After 35 years, Korea House, likely the area’s oldest Korean restaurant, is no more. The second generation of the family took over after In Sook Kang Kim died in 2017, but owners decided to retire in 2020. The Fat City building is now home to a new family restaurant, YuYan Kitchen, serving Mandarin and Cantonese cuisines.
The excellent Philly cheesesteak kitchen with a vegan version of every sandwich on the menu has closed up shop at 4413 Banks Street, it announced on Instagram last week. The sandwich shop is, however, actively looking for a new home and hopes to reopen soon in a new location. The one-time mobile operation opened on Banks Street in May 2018, stunning diners with its traditional and vegan versions of the Philly favorite — steak, chicken, buffalo chicken, and barbecue chicken, as well as vegan versions of all the above made with seitan. It’s last day in its former Mid City address was Thursday, March 25.
Avery’s on Tulane
Avery’s opened in 2012 as a sort of new-wave po’ boy shop, but was promptly welcomed to the city’s famous po’ boy scene due to high-quality ingredients, attention to detail, and over-the-top options, like buffalo shrimp and blue cheese; the “Fire in the Hole” made with hot sausage, pepper jack, and jalepeños; and the “Danimal,” a combo of a beef patty, hot sausage, egg, onion ring, and Sriracha mayo. The family-run shop first closed temporarily over the summer after months of intermittent operation during the pandemic, but owners Christy and Justin Pitard have since decided to close permanently, they told Ian McNulty at NOLA.com this week. The couple is still deciding whether they will put the business up for sale.
The nearly three year old gastropub from New Orleans restauranteur Robert LeBlanc (whose group also owns Sylvain, Barrel Proof, and Cavan) had its last day on February 14, 2021. Through an announcement on Instagram, owners called the past year “one of challenge and transformation” that prompted them to “reflect on our overarching mission of 21st century hospitality and how we can best serve the French Quarter community.” LeBlanc + Smith noted, however, that they wouldn’t be abandoning the location and that there were “exciting” updates to come for the small Toulouse Street space (which is beautiful). It’s the second restaurant under the LeBlanc + Smith umbrella to close in the last year; longtime French Quarter bistro Meauxbar closed for good in October 2020.
The first devastating restaurant closure of 2021 came in January when chef and owner of acclaimed Uptown bistro Carrollton Market Jason Goodenough announced its permanent closure. He explained that the decision was not a financial one, but rather because he found during the pandemic that “his passion for the craft has turned to apathy and my love of serving people has turned into disdain.” Most notably, in December 2020, the chef shared his exasperation with a customer complaint about a “Black Lives Matter” sign hanging in the restaurant’s window, going viral for his response that included donating funds to BLM-aligned nonprofits in the person’s name. Open since 2016, Carrollton Market gained a loyal following for Goodenough’s upscale, contemporary Southern food and the restaurant’s homey feel — Goodenough said he may sell the building and business itself or keep the building and rent the space.
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- New Orleans Restaurant Closings [ENOLA]