More than half a year after its management first announced an imminent closing, Crazy Johnnie’s Steakhouse (crazyjohnnies.net) finally has cooked its last steak, closing the book on the well-known and long-running Metairie restaurant.
“We figured it was time, looked at our inventory and then we sold our last steak and that was it, we closed the doors,” said Barry Sevin Jr., the restaurant’s manager.
Crazy Johnnie’s was cut from a different cloth than most standard steakhouses, and its last chapter was unpredictable as well. Founder and namesake Johnnie Schram first opened the business in 1985 as a neighborhood bar. A simple “steak night” promo soon evolved into a full-time restaurant concept based around filet mignon and prime rib priced barely above cost. Casual to the point of being scruffy, the atmosphere was always more about video poker and longnecks than steakhouse power lunches and wine lists.
Business had been in steady decline, Sevin said, but Crazy Johnnie’s caused a stir last fall when Schram announced her intention to retire and close the restaurant. Customers flocked to the place for one last steak or to rekindle memories, and the business spike buoyed the old restaurant for months.
“When that died down again, we stayed open because we had interests from other restaurateurs, but we couldn’t get everyone on the same page,” Sevin said.
Still, he said, the owners remain in touch with potential buyers who have discussed taking over the property or even reopening the business. That means a refashioned Crazy Johnnie’s is a future possibility, he said.
The colors of the French flag are emblazoned on the walls Café 821 (821 Baronne St., 504-267-5456), and French flavors are the calling card of this new downtown eatery and coffee shop. The short menu runs through quiche, sweet and savory pastries, and croque monsieur and croque madame sandwiches, as well as renditions of those sandwiches made on Belgian waffles.
Café 821 was opened earlier this month by René Brunet, whose family has run movie theaters in New Orleans for generations. Brunet had been living in Montreal, where he operated a restaurant, before moving back home recently. Café 821 serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.
Ice cream shake (up)
La Divina Gelateria (ladivinagelateria.com) closed its original ice cream parlor at 3005 Magazine St. last weekend, though the upshot is you might see more of its gelato in other locations.
Proprietors Katrina and Carmelo Turillo said wholesale orders to restaurants and other customers were picking up and that they will focus more on that line of business.
Meanwhile, their French Quarter store (621 St. Peter St., 504-302-2692) remains open, as does a location on the Loyola University campus (300 LaSalle Place, 504-258-2115). The couple also opened a location late last year in Baton Rouge (3535 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, 225-771-8488).
La Divina Gelateria was part of the first wave of new eateries to emerge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, opening in 2006. It established a niche for ice cream modeled not just on the techniques and flavors of Italian gelato but also aligned with Italian tradition of local and seasonal ingredients in gelato-making.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.