We reported last week that beloved Cajun eatery and longtime Bowery hangout Great Jones Cafe was temporarily shutting down — and, according to cryptic information from an employee, would or would not return. Fearing that the Great Jones had become yet the latest victim of rising rents, New Yorkers swarmed onto social media to pay their respects and lament the loss of a neighborhood institution that has served as an indispensable cultural hub for local artists, musicians, and writers — some of whom, like Basquiat, have become quite famous.
New Yorkers today learned some shocking news: beloved Cajun/Creole restaurant Great Jones Cafe will close tonight and may or may not reopen. Tipsters told EV Grieve that tonight would be the last night, but there’s reason to hope rumors of the 34-year-old Basquiat hangout’s death are greatly exaggerated. This evening, an employee at the Jones told Bedford + Bowery that it’s closing for a week; after that it will reopen — or not. More likely not, she said.
Messages left for owner James Moffett have not yet been returned. In April, the restaurant’s longtime GM, Bill Judkins, told EV Grieve that he was forced out when he couldn’t see eye to eye with his two partners, who “feel that the Jones needs to be changed into something more contemporary to appeal to the ‘new’ neighborhood.” The restaurant’s famous jukebox had been turned off, Judkins told Grieve.
In January of 2015, Judkins told Eater that the restaurant’s landlord was “a nice, old school guy,” and that there were still “a few years” left on the lease. Eater wrote that Judkins “doesn’t see things changing anytime soon, although he does admit to some ‘concern’ about what will happen in the future.”
We’re hoping the Noho fixture rises Lazarus-like from the dead. (I mean, where else can you get a proper oyster po boy around here? Served up by Pavement bassist Mark Ibold, no less.) But many are operating on the assumption that the restaurant won’t be coming back. They filed onto social media to pay their respects:
I’ve run the numbers and I’ve had 3 significant, 5 moderately significant and 10 uneventful nights at Great Jones Cafe. RIP pie & catfish.