As part of a longstanding promotion, Zea Rotisserie & Grill dishes out complimentary take-home four-packs of beer to dads when they dine at its restaurants on Father’s Day. But for the St. Charles Avenue location of the popular homegrown chain, this Father’s Day will be last call.
Taste Buds Management, the company that operates Zea, announced Monday that it will close its New Orleans location on June 21 after nearly 10 years in business.
Taste Buds CEO Chris Rodrigue said the company wasn’t able to reach a long-term lease agreement with the property’s landlord.
He said the building at 1525 St. Charles Ave. is slated to become a health care facility, though he didn’t have details. A representative for the property owner confirmed that the next tenant will not be another restaurant but wouldn’t comment further.
Meanwhile, Taste Buds is searching for another New Orleans location to open a new Zea restaurant. The company has nine other Zea locations in the metro area and in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Mobile, Alabama.
Rodrigue said the company wants to remain in the city proper.
“It’s an exciting time in the city of New Orleans. There’s so much going on,” he said, ticking off a long list of developments and projects underway across town. “We definitely want to have a brand presence in the city.”
The St. Charles Avenue location opened in 2005, a month before Hurricane Katrina, and the company was able to reopen it by December of that year.
Prior to its Zea incarnation, the building had been a night spot and events hall called the City Club and, earlier, a steakhouse called Hyde Park Grill.
Rodrigue said the St. Charles Avenue location was considerably larger than Zea’s other restaurants, about 10,000 square feet compared with the 6,500 square feet typical of the others.
It has had up to 70 employees during peak seasons, and Rodrigue said the company is offering them jobs at its other restaurants.
“One thing we’re proud of is this commitment we’ve made to our employees, so anyone who wants to stay with us can at our other restaurants,” he said.
Overall, Rodrigue said, he is confident that the other Zea locations and the chain’s next New Orleans restaurant will do well.
“The brand is mature, but it’s still very strong,” he said. “It’s no secret that a lot of other restaurants have been opening and there are more national brands here now, but (Zea) continues to perform even with all the competition coming in.”
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.