After nearly five years in business, The Pelican House in Baton Rouge will close this weekend.
In a press release, chef Gavin Jobe said that the restaurant and bar will "serve its last guests and close its doors for good" on Sunday, March 4.
The Pelican House opened in March 2013 at 2572 Citiplace Court and recently made a full transition from a bar to a restaurant. While last year's rebrand "has been beneficial," the release stated that the move "has not been quite enough."
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was spotted having dinner at the Velvet Cactus Monday night. Sources tell us that Hanks, who is in Baton Rouge f…
"A difficult location, unfavorable lease conditions and unforeseen costly building repairs are all influencing factors in our decision," the release stated. "But the biggest single factor (for closing) is passion."
In a follow-up interview, Jobe estimated that nearly $50,000 was spent in the past year alone on unexpected repairs. Among those costs is a new hot water heater, air conditioning plumbing repairs, and additional kitchen equipment. The estimation does not include cost of kitchen expansion.
Another determining factor in the close was Jobe spreading himself thin, splitting time between The Pelican House and Meribo, his modern Italian restaurant located in Covington.
Looking for the best fast food chicken fingers that aren't dry and boring?
"I have left myself no time for personal growth in the trade I have loved my whole life — cooking," he said. "I haven't been learning, and there is so much for me to learn.
"It is with a heavy heart, but a clear mind, that I have made the decision to focus my efforts at Meribo and push myself to grow as a chef and a restaurateur."
Jobe said he also wants to spend more time with his family.
"I want to grow as a husband and father," he said. "It's easy to justify long hours when you care as deeply as we all do, but it isn't always sustainable."
The Pelican House became a full-service restaurant in September 2017. The change meant expanded hours and new dinner, lunch and brunch menus with elevated takes on classic Southern food. Menu items included a short rib grilled cheese, fried pickled okra and a porkchop plate.
The bar and tap-room, which had undergone numerous changes in ownership, management and menu, was finding its footing and focus. Further buzz came when Jobe appeared and won on an episode of Food Network's "Chopped."
Relocating The Pelican House was a strong consideration within the ownership group, but those plans were quickly scrapped.
Despite the semi-dilapidated exterior, a step inside Dim Sum will make you feel much more than a hop away from Airline Highway.
"Although (relocating) would have fixed many of the problems, it would have taken another investment to make the space our own, and it wouldn't have given me any more time to grow or be with my family," Jobe said.
At this moment, Jobe doesn't have plans to open another restaurant in Baton Rouge.
"If the right opportunity came along, I may be interested," he said. "But the timing would have to be right."
In the release, Jobe said he has been happy to be a part of the Baton Rouge restaurant scene, feeding thousands of guests and making new friends: "It has truly been a privilege to be involved in our community in every way."
However, Jobe had a request to capital city restaurant-goers.
"Baton Rouge, my hometown, I love you, but I implore you to raise your culinary standards," he said. "There are a few great chefs in this town making great food. Support those people!
"Stop flocking to chain restaurants. Stop asking chefs to change their menus, and stop accepting mediocrity. Ask for seasonal, local (when it makes sense), creative food, and embrace the chefs and restaurants who deliver it to you.
"We are only an hour away from New Orleans, one of the greatest food cities on Earth, and often times, it is hard to tell. Go there, eat the food, and come back with those expectations."