NO.upperline.adv_141.JPG

Upperline Restaurant owner JoAnn Clevenger blows out a candle on a table in one of her dining rooms on Monday, November 2, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

These have been tumultuous times in the restaurant business. In New Orleans, that's meant change for a number of high-profile spots, and some still have giant question marks over their future. I have the latest on six such spots below; let’s start with the most immediate good news of the bunch.

Central Grocery

central grocery 2023

Central Grocery, the historic Italian deli in the French Quarter, as it appears in July 2023. It is being rebuilt after catastrophic damage from Hurricane Ida in 2021. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com  | The Times-Picayune)

Central Grocery has been closed more than two years now since Hurricane Ida brought massive damage as the neighboring building collapsed, sending a torrent of bricks crashing down on the Decatur Street market.

cg roof

Rebuilding Central Grocery in the French Quarter required replacing much of the structure, including the roof. (Contributed photo from American Construction Management Services)

There were hopes that the market at 923 Decatur St. could be back open by Thanksgiving, but things did not work out that way.?

“We want to open when is 100%. It’s been two years — I want to do it right, and in the big picture if it’s another month that’s OK,” said Tommy Tusa, one of the family owners.?

centralmuffuletta3

A half muffuletta from Central Grocery, the famous Italian market in the French Quarter.

He expects to open by the end of the year. The Central Grocery family is bringing it back along the same lines as people remember, complete with the long counter where many a muffuletta has met the world and racks of imported Italian groceries all around.

In the meantime, the Central Grocery muffuletta is actually easier to get than ever, with a network of local retail outlets selling the sandwich and the online service Goldbelly shipping it nationally.?

central sidneys

Sidney's Wine Cellar is stocking muffuletta sandwiches from its neighbor Central Grocery while the famous French Quarter shop is closed for massive repairs. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Here’s where to find Central Grocery muffulettas today:

Sidney’s Wine Cellar, 917 Decatur St.; Zuppardo’s Family Market, 5010 Veterans Blvd.; Rouses in the CBD, 701 Baronne St.; Acquistapace’s in Covington, 125 E. 21st Ave. and Mandeville, 631 N. Causeway Blvd.; NORCO Fresh Market, 217 Apple St., Norco; and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, at Moisant Market (near concourse B, behind security).

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

williemae

Customers wait for tables outside Willie Mae's Scotch House, a Treme restaurant famous for fried chicken.?

Willie Mae’s Scotch House is widely acclaimed for its fried chicken, and it’s known as one of the city's oldest Black-owned restaurants, with a story of community and family running through it. It’s also contending with a challenging new chapter.

NO.williemaesfire.041123_886.JPG

Charles Brimmer, in yellow, with Brimmer Construction Services, helps secure Willie Mae's restaurant in New Orleans after firefighters put out the fire on Monday, April 10, 2023. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Treme restaurant was severely damaged by a fire that broke out in the early morning of April 10, and the one-time neighborhood anchor at 2401 St. Ann St. has been closed since.

williemaeint

A weekday lunch at Willie Mae's Scotch House, where tables are spaced for social distancing measures.

The proprietor today is Kerry Stewart-Seaton, the great-granddaughter of restaurant founder and namesake Willie Mae Seaton, who started the business as a bar back in 1957.

Stewart-Seaton said the steps to reopen are slowly progressing. Plans for the rebuild were approved at the beginning of November; the next step is permitting. A reopening in the spring is possible.

"We'll be back; it's just going to take a minute, or more like a year," she said.

Willie Mae's has run a second restaurant in Los Angeles since 2022, and it ships packages of fried chicken and sides nationally through Goldbelly.

Bon Ton?Café

bt 2

The Bon Ton Cafe, at 401 Magazine St., in downtown New Orleans, following a fire that broke out Sept. 24, 2023. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Bon Ton Cafe should be open right now. The story of why it’s not is a heartbreaker, but there is hope ahead.

The restaurant, which dates back to 1877 in one format or another, changed hands in March 2020, possibly the last local restaurant to do so without the influence of the pandemic.

NO.bonton.liv.030420_28.JPG

Bon Ton Cafe? in downtown New Orleans on Friday, February 28, 2020.

It was purchased from the Pierce family by Jerry Greenbaum, proprietor of Chophouse New Orleans, the steakhouse located just across the street from Bon Ton; he’s also chair of Charleston-based restaurant group CentraArchy, which operates more than a dozen restaurants around the South.

His company was weeks away from reopening a new edition of the Bon Ton when a fire broke out on Sept. 24 at the property at 401 Magazine St. The damage was extensive. But Greenbaum said he is committed to reopening the restaurant; he now projects summer or fall of 2024 for its comeback.

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

kpauls

The former home of K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen at 416 Chartres St., in September 2023. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Few restaurants loom larger in New Orleans culinary lore than K-Paul’s Louisiana kitchen, where the late, great Paul Prudhomme came to fame as a global ambassador of Cajun and Louisiana flavor.

The restaurant’s permanent closure in 2020 during the depths of pandemic lockdowns was a massive blow. There are no plans to bring K-Paul’s back; however, its location at 416 Chartres St. was slated to become something entirely different and promising.

paul.jpg for GAM 071320

Paul Prudhomme outside of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen.

A new concept called French Quarter Boulangerie was announced, with plans to field high-volume, quick-service all-day breakfast and lunch in the French Quarter.

boulangerie rendering

A rendering shows the interior of the forthcoming French Quarter Boulangerie, a breakfast and lunch restaurant on Chartres St. (Contributed image from FAM Design)

Now, though, those plans are off. The partnership that was to bring the site back to life has ended, and the historic property at 416 Chartres St. is gutted.

The property was sold in 2022 and again in June, and its new owners are interested in selling the property (it’s listed for $6.9 million), leasing it or forming a joint venture with an operator and investor, according to Chris Ross, an agent with Latter & Blum representing the owners.

Upperline

NO.upperline.adv_126.JPG

Upperline owner JoAnn Clevenger shares stories about the art and the regulars at her Uptown? restaurant in New Orleans, November 2, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Through four decades, JoAnn Clevenger ran Upperline as something more than a restaurant. It was the personal expression of her idea of hospitality, one that flowed through Louisiana cuisine, the art collection that made her dining rooms feel like galleries and the interplay of the people drawn there.

Upperline never reopened after the pandemic shutdowns, and in 2021, at age 82, Clevenger decided it was time to retire. She and her family put the restaurant at 1413 Upperline St. up for sale.?

NO.upperline.adv_151.JPG

Upperline Restaurant owner JoAnn Clevenger in her closed dining room on November 2, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Clevenger says today the property has had a few serious inquiries, each of which have contemplated reopening the space as a restaurant.?But it remains on the market, listed with Corporate Realty at $1.57 million.

Andrea’s Restaurant

andreas sign

Andrea's Restaurant was a fixture of the Metairie dining scene for 37 years before closing in 2022. It's shown here in 2020 during the pandemic when it briefly has a tent for outdoor dining. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The restaurant that Andrea Apuzzo created just off Causeway Boulevard in Metairie was huge, and not just in scale although certainly it was that with 12,000 square feet indoors and parking for 200 cars. It also loomed large as a venue for countless events involving family, business, politics or some combination thereof.

marullos bar

The Capri Blu bar at the former Andrea's Restaurant in Metairie, seen here as renovations begin to create the new restaurant Marullo's. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The chef sold the restaurant in the summer of 2022 to local real estate developer Anthony “A.P.” Marullo III, who had plans for an ambitious Italian restaurant that would carry that old role forward on new terms. However, that never came to pass. Marullo sold the property to the New Orleans-based hospitality group Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, which runs more than two dozen restaurants in the area.

Last spring, that company traced plans for a future restaurant at the address, 3100 19th St., but as of yet there are no details on the concept or its timeline.

Love New Orleans food? Pull up a seat at the table. Join Where NOLA Eats, the hub for food and dining coverage in New Orleans.

Follow Where NOLA Eats on Instagram at @wherenolaeats, join the Where NOLA Eats Facebook group and subscribe to the free Where NOLA Eats weekly newsletter here.

Email Ian McNulty at imcnulty@theadvocate.com.

Tags