Every year brings several sad and shocking closures to New Orleans, an inevitable facet of doing business in this restaurant-dense city. Those dreaded announcements seemed to hit fast and furious as the year wound down, prompting Eater to take a look back at what the city’s culinary scene lost in 2023. One silver lining we noticed in reviewing the year’s bar, music venue, and restaurant closures? A good number of places have since returned in some form, or have plans to do so soon — businesses like Rahm Haus, Neutral Ground Coffee House, Congregation Coffee, and Club Caribbean.
As we look forward to what’s ahead for 2024, let’s take a few moments to remember the places we’ll miss most.
One Eyed Jack’s
This legendary French Quarter music venue first closed its original Toulouse Street location in 2022, relocating to Decatur Street early that year (with Toulouse Theatre replacing it in its original address). Less than a year later, however, the new location closed as well, following two decades of dance parties, energetic live performances, and its famed Bingo Show.
One of the area’s best and most-loved fried chicken destinations — first located in Lakeview, then in Old Metairie, closed its doors in April 2023. However, fans of the go-to for breakfast, po’ boys, blue plate specials, and made-to-order fried catfish and chicken may have reason to keep their hopes up: In the closure announcement, proprietors James Harvey and Cary McCann called it a temporary farewell, saying they hoped to return one day.
Brown Butter was a unique Mid-City restaurant that solidified itself as a neighborhood staple over its eight years. The friendly, Southern comfort food haven shut down in May, with co-owner and manager Simon Beck informing customers that its building was being converted into a medical facility. Still, Beck said at the time, “We’ll see y’all down the line somewhere.”
Egg Roll House
After nearly 40 years as an area Chinese takeout favorite, Metairie’s Egg Roll House closed for good in June 2023. Owner Theresa Chien explained a promised rent increase was unsustainable, and as such, Thai restaurant Café Equator will be expanding in its (now-demolished) space.
Piece of Meat
Mid-City’s highly acclaimed butcher shop-turned-steakhouse closed in July after five years, with co-owners Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson saying they were ready for a “reset.” While there’s no chance of a revival for the restaurant in its original Bienville Street location — a new restaurant is moving in there — there’s surely more to come from the talented chefs.
Le Chat Noir
After less than two years as one of New Orleans’s hottest new culinary destinations, Le Chat Noir abruptly closed in early August, citing high overhead and the “summer slump.” It’s one of the year’s most surprising closures given its acclaim and outward success; the restaurant, a partnership between Bearcat owner James Reuter and Gene Todaro, was led by talented young chef Seth Temple, who was known for creative, technique-driven preparations of vegetables and seafood.
A Metairie institution for nearly 50 years, Riccobono’s closed its doors in early September. It was prompted by the retirement of owner Vincent Riccobono along with restaurant manager Cami Chiarella earlier this summer, but the closure doesn’t impact the other local restaurants in the family network: Riccobono’s Panola Street Café, Sala, and Café Navarre.
Gasa Gasa, Freret Street’s beloved indie music venue, closed its doors following a final show in mid-November. The abrupt shutter came two years after it reopened under new owners, prompting claims of mismanagement by some employees with one owner blaming it on a significant decline in bar sales over the last six months.
A year and a half after this hit pop-up-turned-restaurant opened in the CBD to great fanfare, Tava Indian Street Food closed on November 18. Chef and owner Manish Patel cited a combination of factors including the increase in food and labor costs and bad customer behavior that was all part of the “daily roller coaster” of running a restaurant. Patel told Eater that he is “keeping an open mind to any opportunities that come up.”
Seafood Sally’s and Marjie’s Grill
This fall was rough on one local duo in particular — Marcus Jacobs and Caitlin Carney, the proprietors of Marjie’s Grill and Seafood Sally’s. Shortly after announcing the impending December closure of their acclaimed first restaurant Marjie’s Grill, Jacobs and Carney say they were forced to close their second restaurant, Seafood Sally’s, due to a plumbing issue they could not afford to fix. While Seafood Sally’s is done for good, Marjie’s Grill will continue to exist as an event space and catering business, with the possibility of a supper club down the line.
Perhaps New Orleans’s most significant closure of 2023 will occur when Lengua Madre, a nationally lauded Mexican tasting menu restaurant led by James Beard Award nominee Ana Castro, ends its two-year run later this month. The restaurant’s last day is New Year’s Eve, and despite it being a huge culinary loss for the city, the end of this chapter also marks the beginning of a happy new one: Castro is opening her first solo restaurant in spring 2024 in the Bywater neighborhood — a casual, Mexican mariscos restaurant called Acamaya.