clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Full Breakdown of What’s Going On With Buffa’s

After a wave of concern that the late-night haven was set to close, the bar’s future is less than clear


The lamentations began over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. It started on social media, when Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant, an 80+-year-old dive bar, live music venue, and late-night haven on the edge of New Orleans’s French Quarter, responded to a Facebook follower’s question: “Is Buffa’s closing??”

The question was prompted by a post on the bar’s Facebook page, a live feed of the bar’s jazz brunch on Sunday, July 2, that was captioned “The Last Brunch.” The bar’s response? “Unless a miracle happens, we will have no other choice. This summer has been absolutely the worst since we took over in 2010 (except for the pandemic, but at least we got bailout money).”

The response set off a slew of reactions mourning the ongoing loss of the city’s late-night culture. That same day (July 2), the Gambit published a report that seemingly confirmed the closing, with the headline: “Buffa’s bar likely to close this week, owners say.” Buffa’s reposted the headline on its Facebook page on July 3, making its closure seem all but definitive. Then, on July 4, there was a new stance from Buffa’s, also posted to Facebook: “Like many things on social media, rumors of our closing have been a little exaggerated.” Wait, what?

The post went on: “The situation is dire, that much is true. But we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community. We were busy enough on Sunday to postpone closing a little bit. Every day we can do that allows us to discover and explore other options.”

So, Buffa’s remains open, presumably due to increased sales and other measures of support from its customer base. The Times-Picayune reported that a number of the bar’s lineup of local musicians had volunteered to play for free; an unsustainable, if touching measure. And a GoFundMe for the bar was set up by an “extended family” member of owners Chuck and Janis Rogers, who rent the building from the Buffa family, the bar’s founders. It has currently raised $18,805 of its $75,000 goal.

On Wednesday, July 5, the bar’s weekly newsletter reiterated that it would remain open, and announced that all shows this weekend would be free, due to the outpouring of support from the community. Buffa’s says musicians will be paid a percentage of bar sales, and that, if successful, owners would consider doing a free weekend of shows next month as well.

The newsletter also included a bit more context on the commotion of the few days prior. Since Jazz Fest, the bar wrote, business has completely dropped off. “There’s a lot of speculation on why, but Mom and Pop places like ours were experiencing a summer slower than any in recent memory.” Buffa’s wrote that owners laid off half the staff and told the rest they didn’t know how long they could hold on, and that they probably had enough inventory to last a couple of weeks.

“We’d like to stress there is no blame here,” the newsletter read. “Things were overheard and misunderstood.” Posts were made, by friends and musicians, “and it took off like a Canadian wildfire.” Then, people started coming in and ordering merch online, and a friend set up the GoFundMe. “To say it was unexpected and we were caught off guard is an understatement! It took us until Monday to get ourselves in sync with what was going on,” the section concluded.

The newsletter went on to describe upcoming live shows and events, including a partnership with Zony Mash, during which the brewery would be coming by every Wednesday in July to do free beer tastings. And, it clarified, the prior week’s jazz brunch was not the last.

Buffa’s does, however, have new summer hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week — so it’s opening an hour earlier, and closing a bit earlier on weekends. But for now, Buffa’s is still there, for a show, a beer, a late-night burger, and a slice of Janis’s homemade cheesecake. For how long, however, is anyone’s guess.


1001 Esplanade Avenue, , LA 70116 (504) 949-0038 Visit Website