As 2021 wound down, New Orleans saw an increasing number of restaurants shutter, most citing some combination of Hurricane Ida-related damage or losses and two years 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 an ongoing public health crisis, so here Eater keeps track of all the important food world closures New Orleans diners need to know about in 2022. These are the New Orleans establishments that have closed their doors permanently, rather than temporarily due to pandemic-related circumstances.
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Jung’s Golden Dragon II
Jung’s, an Irish Channel neighborhood favorite for Chinese-American fare as well as traditional Chinese specialties, will close after 12 years on Magazine Street, reports NOLA.com. Jung Tan first opened first opened Jung’s Golden Dragon with her parents in Metairie more than 40 years ago, becoming such a loved figure among customers that many Metairites continued to visit her at the Magazine Street location when she relocated. Tan told the newspaper at 71 she is ready to retire, and that there are prospective buyers for the restaurant who would likely turn it into a Chinese-Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. Customers can still visitor Jung’s for a few more days, Tan expects to close the week of May 30 or sometime thereafter.
One of the first dedicated vegan cafes in New Orleans’s Uptown area has closed, four and a half years after Maxwell Eaton opened it as a grab-and-go destination for meals featuring plant-based proteins, rainbow salads, and fresh juices. The shop is in the process of being cleared out, it appears, and has been marked permanently closed on a number of business listings. Eater has reached out to Eaton for more information on the closure.
Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard’s funky, much-loved Mexican restaurant closed on May 6, owner Hugo Montero announced in a farewell Facebook post that night after service. A Mexico City native and longtime New Orleans artist, Montero, along with Green Project founder Linda Stone, opened the restaurant in 2013 as one of few benefit corporations in the city, meaning it was committed to existing for public benefit in addition to profit. As such, the restaurant hosted near-nightly Latin American music acts, displayed works by Mexican artists, and invested in services like composting and glass recycling, and was one of few New Orleans restaurants specializing in food that could be found in Mexico City.
Funky, festive Gentilly Boulevard taco joint Catty Shack is closing, owner Catherine Smith announced on Facebook this week. Smith, an Austin, Texas native, opened the tiny stand honoring all things Tex-Mex near the Fair Grounds more than four years ago, and quickly became known for queso, affordable hard tacos, frozen sangria, and a charming roadside atmosphere. In the post, Smith indicated that she hopes to find another place before long, but that with “ridiculous staffing issues and rising food costs,” Catty Shack has outgrown its location, and its last day will be Sunday, May 8 — Mother’s Day and the last day of Jazz Fest, which “feels right to me,” Smith said. A Thai restaurant is set to move into the address at 1839 Gentilly Blvd. in the coming weeks.
Live Oak Cafe
Once a brunch hotspot that reopened with an even bigger emphasis on live music in 2015, Live Oak Cafe became a favorite for New Orleans musicians and music lovers for providing an intimate, relaxed way to new artists and longtime local acts. Now the cafe is closing, as announced by chef and owner Clare Leavy on Facebook. There, Leavy said she had made arrangements for Live Oak’s last day to be Sunday, May 8, explaining that “The final straw came with omicron in Dec ‘21 and Jan ‘22,” and that increased business around Mardi Gras has not been enough. Live Oak remained closed for the majority of the pandemic, reopening in Summer 2021, only to close again following Hurricane Ida. While fundraisers have been set up in hopes of keeping the venue open, Leavy said, “Simply put, we are out of time and options.” To catch one last show before it closes, check Live Oak’s schedule here.
Red Gravy, Roseann Rostoker and Lou Lombardo’s homey Northeast-inspired Italian restaurant that moved moved Uptown from the CBD in 2020, has closed. Rostoker, who opened Red Gravy with Lombardo after moving from New Jersey 10 years ago, took to Facebook with a lengthy post to announce the closure. Speaking of the impact of the pandemic on their business, Rostoker wrote that reopening on Magazine sunk them into debt for the first time in 10 years, and that while they were received warmly, COVID restrictions and staffing challenges were ultimately “death by a thousand cuts” for the restaurant. The last day of service was Saturday, April 30. Rostoker and Lombardo plan to remain in New Orleans, Rostoker said in the post.
Auction House Market
Auction House Market, the dazzling food hall at the corner of Magazine and Julia Streets in the Warehouse District, is officially no more as of March 31. The food hall was the second to debut in New Orleans (a few years after St. Roch Market opened and just prior to the opening of Pythian Market), and originally housed nine independent food purveyors when it opened in 2018 — it finished its run with the cafe, bar, and just four active food vendors: Market Deli, Bayou Boujee Seafood, Asianlicious Sushi and Noodle House, and Turkey Leg Bistro. Designed and opened by Politan, the group that also opened St. Roch Market and food halls in Atlanta, Miami, and Houston, the owners of the building, Felicity Property Co., took over operations in 2020; the company’s president, Patrick Schindler, told Gambit that Felicity “saw a shift in the multi-vendor food hall model” and that the company plans to introduce a new concept and operator to the space.
Magasin, opened in 2012 on a stretch of Magazine Street that was previously known primarily for acclaimed restaurant La Petite Grocery, has closed for good, Uptown Messenger reports. Owner Kim Nguyen has a new pioneering restaurant to focus on — Mukbang — this time on Oak Street, and has brought along a few favorite Magasin menu items to keep its spirit alive. Magasin was a bit of an institution, landing Uptown at a time when the city’s many great Vietnamese cafes weren’t necessarily viewed as destinations for special occasions or for upscale dining. Magasin changed that, diversifying the neighborhood and helping pave the way for a number of future restaurants, including the Nguyen’s Warehouse District offshoot, Magasin Cafe, which remains open.
After 17 years as one of the city’s favorite destinations for special occasion meals, the French Quarter’s gorgeous Cafe Amelie has closed. The restaurant opened in the historic Princess of Monaco Courtyard and Carriage House on Royal Street in 2005 — just a few months before Hurricane Katrina. It quickly became known for its lush, secluded patio and food from chef Jerry Mixon, who worked with the legendary Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul’s. The restaurant’s 150-year old building has been sold, and it will cease to operate in that location, though owners of Cafe Amelie plan to relocate elsewhere with a new team.
On March 3, Seed posted a message to its Instagram feed announcing the restaurant’s closure, saying in part: “After serving the New Orleans community for eight years, it saddens us to say that we will be closing Seed on Prytania Street,” and thanking the New Orleans community and the Seed team, saying “Your effort, care and work has allowed Seed to serve our city well.” Seed has been a favorite of New Orleans’s vegan and vegetarian community, while also appealing to non-vegetarians, since opening in the LGD in 2014; owners attempted to expand with a second location in 2018, but closed the Marigny restaurant just six months later in April 2019. Seed’s founding owner ended up selling the original Prytania Street location just a few months later, and it closed for renovations under new owners, reopening in January 2020 with a new look and a new, fine-dining inspired menu. The weekend before Mardi Gras was the restaurant’s last weekend open.
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse has permanently closed his third New Orleans restaurant, Emeril’s Delmonico, after keeping it shuttered throughout the pandemic, according to a statement posted to the restaurant’s website this week. As first reported by NOLA.com, the Emeril’s Restaurant group says it has decided to sell the property at 1300 St. Charles Avenue, where Lagasse took over Delmonico in 1997 — the restaurant first opened as Delmonico in 1895. “The past 2 years, while challenging, have been an opportunity to evaluate and assess all of our brands and where our talent and energy is best channeled to bring the experience we expect for our customers,” says the statement. It goes on to hint at “future developments in downtown New Orleans,” and teases the forthcoming reopening of NOLA, Lagasse’s French Quarter restaurant, which has also remained closed throughout the pandemic. Lagasse’s flagship restaurant, Emeril’s, reopened last fall, and his newer Warehouse District restaurant, Meril, reopened a few months into the pandemic.
New Orleans chefs Paul Artigues and Chris DeBarr first opened the endearing Exchange Alley restaurant the Green Goddess in 2009. Now, the French Quarter cafe’s era of serving eclectic, vegetable-forward meals in a courtyard setting is officially over for good, following two temporary closures in the last two years — first in spring 2020 at the pandemic’s onset, and again following Hurricane Ida at the end of August 2021. By that time, Artigues was operating the restaurant with his wife, Olivia Artigues, and together, the couple says, the losses following the hurricane led to their decision close for good. Excitingly, the couple opened a new restaurant and bar in the Marigny at the end of January: Breakaway’s R & B, serving New Orleans staples and sno-ball cocktails, in the former address of much-loved dive bar Lost Love Lounge.
Vegan Wit’ a Twist
Vegan Wit’ a Twist is the trailblazing vegan soul food kitchen from three New Orleans barbers — Roy Joseph, Ryan Billew and Ollie Williams — who came together to turn what used to be a sno-ball stand along St. Bernard Avenue into a trendsetting restaurant. They eventually relocated downtown, where they continued “turning your favorite foods vegan,” while also introducing more seafood and meat options. On Friday, January 14, owners announced via Instagram and Facebook that the restaurant on S. Rampart Street was closing permanently on Monday, January 16. The posts teased that “This isn’t goodbye,” and that they would keep everyone posted on a new location. Eater has reached out to Vegan Wit’ a Twist for future plans, but the downtown restaurant is closed for good.
Husband-and-wife team Brack May and Krista Pendergraft-May opened Cowbell in 2010 at the top of Oak Street where it meets with Leake Avenue along the river, bringing a cool, low-key tavern for high-end but playful versions of comfort food like burgers, mac and cheese, and tacos. Most notably, Brack was one of the first local chefs to work directly with local farmers, producers, and even foragers for menu ingredients, from greens to goat cheese to rabbit. May, who previous worked as culinary director at beloved local nonprofit and culinary training center Liberty’s Kitchen, confirmed to NOLA.com this week that Cowbell has closed for good, following a decision not to renew the lease at the end of 2021. Repeatedly closing and reopening throughout the pandemic has taken its toll, May said, but losses from Hurricane Ida was a deciding factor.
Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine
Dunbar’s, known as a pre-Katrina destination for Creole cuisine and soul food specialties that launched the greatest restaurant comeback of 2017, has closed its doors for good, nearly five years after its hard-fought revival. Dunbar’s first announced the closure in November on Instagram with text reading “Dunbar’s is closed until further notice,” leaving hope for the possibility of a reopening. However, Tina Dunbar confirmed to NOLA.com this week that the closure is indeed permanent, brought on by the financial hardship imposed by Hurricane Ida during a a time when the restaurant was already struggling. Dunbar says she plans to do some catering, and doesn’t rule out some future iteration of the restaurant, but says it’s simply gotten to be too much.
Big Fisherman’s Seafood
The closure of one of New Orleans’s few remaining seafood markets, Big Fisherman’s Seafood, came as a shock to many. Owner Henry Poynot spoke to NOLA.com about his decision in December, citing declining business and increased competition for items like crawfish, previously a reliable seasonal income, as well as inventory loss resulting from Hurricane Ida. It brings an end to a 32-year history for the small store on the corner Magazine and Toledano Streets, which was loved for its mom-and-pop feel and its high quality, if often limited, selection of seafood. Poynot owns the building, and has not yet announced plans for the property.
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- New Orleans Restaurant Closings [ENOLA]