The original location of Gracious Bakery will close in early May, owners announced on Instagram this week, more than 10 years after they opened it at 1000 S Norman C Francis Parkway. The local bakery’s two other locations in the Garden District and Uptown New Orleans will remain open.
Megan and Jay Forman opened Gracious on what was then called Jeff Davis Parkway in 2012, saying they wanted to “create a destination for fresh, from-scratch pastries, crusty bread and baguettes, and sandwiches along with great coffee.” Megan’s background as a pastry chef at Sucré and before that Bayona made for a buzzy debut, and the bakery was quickly embraced by the neighborhood as part of the newly-built Woodward building.
“During the first couple of years, when I would describe the location, people would say, oh, you mean in the middle of nowhere?” Megan Forman wrote on Instagram. Still, it quickly became known as part of a “baking renaissance” taking place in the city at the time, with the emergence of independent brands like Bellegarde, Sucré, and Breads on Oak.
The couple opened a second location of Gracious on St. Charles Avenue in January 2017, adding booze, as well as a smaller, takeout-only location on Earhart Boulevard. They opened an Uptown location on Prytania Street in November 2017 with its biggest menu and space yet, and at the beginning of 2018, Gracious Bakery and Cafe opened inside the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) with an acclaimed chef at the helm — Michael Doyle, previously of Bywater’s Maurepas Foods and Press Street Station. The culinary school cafe, as well as the takeout-only location on Earhart, have since closed.
“It just came down to numbers,” Jay Forman tells Eater. Sales at the Mid City location never returned to pre-pandemic levels, Forman says, and when the Coca-Cola building next door closed up shop, “a big piece of our daily sales fell out.”
“It’s a bit of a bummer for us as this was our first store and our baby,” says Forman. “But, it has always been the smallest in terms of revenue and it just didn’t make sense to keep it open anymore.” Remaining staff at the Mid City location have all been offered other positions within the company, so no layoffs resulted from the decision, he says.
“We are fortunate to be able to rebalance the load among the other departments and keep trudging the road to happy destiny,” Forman says. The full closing announcement is below.