A celebrated Birmingham, Alabama chef who helped raise the city’s culinary profile when he opened his downtown dining destination 20 years ago is opening a restaurant in his hometown of New Orleans, reports NOLA.com. Chris Dupont, the former chef and owner of Birmingham’s Cafe Dupont, has sold that restaurant with plans to relocate his family to his native New Orleans and focus on a forthcoming Magazine Street restaurant.
Dupont has purchased the historic building formerly home to Cavan, according to NOLA.com, with plans to open a restaurant he calls his “last.” Prolific local restaurant group LeBlanc and Smith closed the Magazine Street bistro in September 2021 after five years, with owner Robért LeBlanc citing Hurricane Ida damage and “extreme” staffing challenges at the time. Despite only being open five years, the restaurant was well-loved, particularly for the romantic 19th century townhouse it was housed in.
Details for Dupont’s restaurant are scarce, but renovation permits tied to the address (3607 Magazine St.) indicate plans for repairs and painting, switching out light fixtures, refinishing floors, and adjusting the footprint of the first and second floor bars. Local architect Brooks Graham is managing the renovation; he’s helped design restaurants like Avo, DTB, and La Boca. Eater has reached out to Dupont for more information about the forthcoming restaurant and will update if we hear back.
It’s reasonable to anticipate some general qualities for Dupont’s New Orleans restaurant, of course — the chef was an early leader in Birmingham’s embrace of the farm-to-table, slow food movement in the 1990s, and was known for serving locally-sourced, seasonal Southern plates with an emphasis on refined vegetable preparations. Dupont first opened his eponymous restaurant just outside of Birmingham in 1994, but it really rose to acclaim after he relocated it downtown in 2003. In a 2013 restaurant review celebrating its 10th year there, the Birmingham News called it “Birmingham’s standard bearer for downtown fine dining.”
Dupont grew up in Gretna on New Orleans’s Westbank and moved to Birmingham after college to work at the Wynfrey Hotel. He returned to New Orleans in the 1980s and worked at a number of local fine-dining restaurants before moving back to Birmingham in the early 1990s, and shortly after opened Cafe Dupont in Springville. According to BHam Now, Cafe Dupont’s longtime sous chef Chris Evans is taking over as the restaurant’s owner and operator.
Dupont expects to open his New Orleans restaurant at 3607 Magazine St. in late summer 2022.
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