The Bravo! Cucina Italiana restaurant at the Mall of Louisiana is set to close at the end of March. It will be replaced by Bar Louie.

Raphael Gross, a spokesman for Bravo Biro, the Columbus, Ohio, company that owns Bravo! Cucina, said the Baton Rouge location is being shut down because of the “challenging economic times.”

Bravo!, which opened in July 2008, was one of the early tenants of the Mall of Louisiana’s open-air Boulevard shopping center.

Despite being located across the street from the mall’s 15-screen movie theater, the restaurant “never gained the traction we had hoped for,” Gross said.

The 7,500-square-foot space won’t be vacant for long. Bar Louie, a Chicago chain that specializes in signature martinis and American food from hamburgers to small plates, will open in the former Bravo! spot in May, said Todd Denton, mall manager.

“We’re real pleased even though we are losing a tenant, we’ll have a replacement right away,” he said. “That will keep the excitement and energy out there.”

A Baton Rouge location has been a long time coming for Bar Louie.

In 2005, JTS Interests announced Bar Louie would be a tenant in its Perkins Rowe development, but that never came to fruition.