Updated 8/2: Great Jones Cafe is reopening tonight.
The Great Jones Café, the low-key Cajun-Creole restaurant that opened in 1983, is shutting its doors tonight after service.
Multiple tipsters shared this news (H/T Spike). The initial word passed along from staff to patrons last night is that the lease is up at the restaurant on Great Jones Street just off the Bowery. However, that has not been confirmed and an official reason for a closure hasn't been offered.
Updated: A longtime employee told the Daily News that the Café will close after tonight "for a week of clean-up, and during that break, the 34-year-old institution will decide whether or not they’ll ever open again."
“It’s a possibility, but nothing has been decided yet,” according to one long time employee.
Back in March, Bill Judkins, who had been GM for 26 years (and an employee for longer), was fired.
He told me this in an email in April:
My two partners and I have not seen eye to eye about the direction the restaurant needed move in for a few years now. I’ve been arguing that The Jones is unique and special, one of a vanishing breed (certainly in Manhattan) that is loved and needs to be preserved. They feel that the Jones needs to be changed into something more contemporary to appeal to the “new" neighborhood.
It came to a head this past March 10th, when they forced me out.
Since then, four employees have quit. The jukebox has gone dark. They took the Mardi Gras beads off the bar lamps that they’ve been on for years. They took down the Christmas lights that illuminated the room. I’m not sure what other changes are planned.
I think it has been a special little “joint” for many, many years. It seems a sad way for it to go down.
The jukebox, stocked with the likes of the Flying Burrito Brothers and Howlin’ Wolf that Judkins curated, was typically named on the city's best-of lists. (Judkins removed his records from the jukebox after being fired.)
On my last visit here in April, the jukebox sat unplugged in its usual spot. The bartender had the stereo on behind the bar. (I recall hearing Coldplay and Keane.)
In January 2015, Eater's Robert Sietsema wrote this appreciation of the Great Jones Café:
The website of Great Jones Café mentions that when the place first opened in June, 1983, Great Jones Street was so isolated and desolate that after eating, patrons would often rush outside and indulge in a game of Wiffle Ball uninterrupted by traffic. Nowadays in this bustling, now-upscale Bowery neighborhood, street sports — as well as rents — are impossible. Yet Great Jones Café remains, as much a clubhouse providing reasonably priced meals for the artists, writers, and rock musicians who have lived and labored in the vicinity as it is a place that employs them when the royalty checks dry up.
I had two very enjoyable meals in an atmosphere blessedly quiet and relaxed, even with the jukebox. It made me nostalgic for an era in downtown New York when real estate pressures didn’t dominate everything, when food didn’t always have to be the best and most expensive it could be, when a meal was simply a meal, best consumed among friends.
As an EVG tipster noted, the newcomers in that area now want to go to places like Atla on Lafayette for plates of $12 Brussels Sprouts..
WPIX was at the restaurant and filed a report last evening.