It’s been a hectic 24 hours for chef Eric Cook’s French Quarter Creole restaurant Saint John. The acclaimed chef (and New Orleans native) announced the popular two-year-old restaurant’s immediate and indefinite closure on Instagram yesterday afternoon, prompted by a $40,000 power bill from Entergy that led to the utilities provider shutting off the building’s power. The dispute over the charge, “a bill that they are saying we need to pay for a ghost meter that they cannot even determine its location on the property,” admittedly sent Cook over the edge, he said, noting “The level of harassment and utter terror that they have inflicted on myself and my company,” and declaring “The line has been crossed for the last time.”
The public’s reaction was swift and strong. The Instagram post garnered nearly 700 comments and by 7 p.m. that evening, District 3’s Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis, who began his term in 2023 with a strong stance advocating for regulatory pressure on New Orleans’s often-dysfunctional utilities, posted that he had spoken to Entergy. The company was “willing to work with” Cook “to bring a resolution and restore power tonight,” he said. By the morning of Friday, November 3, Cook posted an update to Instagram, saying that the restaurant’s power was being restored and that he planned to reopen the restaurant.
In a subsequent statement to Eater, Cook said the Saint John team is hoping to reopen for dinner service on Saturday night, though it is not 100 percent. He noted that the billing dispute remains and still needs to be resolved, but that he is taking the opportunity to reopen and keep people employed for now (one comment on a Reddit thread about the situation was from someone who claimed to be a Saint John bartender finding out about the closure from the thread). Cook also notes his larger-than-most public platform is the reason he was able to garner such swift attention, a reaction “that should be available to everyone.”
“As a community, we need to start a discussion about getting ongoing support from city leaders to protect all citizens from situations like this,” Cook said.