Food and beverage are not just topics for exhibits at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Eating and drinking have been part of the equation from the start at this Central City cultural institution, which has a demonstration kitchen and its own restaurant and bar.
Now though, that restaurant is in transition. Purloo, the upscale modern Southern restaurant from chef Ryan Hughes, has closed.
As the website Eater first reported today, the restaurant’s Facebook page has a message indicating that Purloo plans to relocate. Hughes has not returned calls seeking comment.
However, a restaurant and bar will remain part of the museum operation. Liz Williams, founder and executive director of the museum and its parent organization, the National Food & Beverage Foundation, said her group is now in talks with restaurant operators to take over the space.
“We wish Ryan all the best,” said Williams.
The museum, which started as a traveling exhibit in 2004, moved into its current home in 2014. The building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard was once part of the city’s network of public food marts.
The museum space was designed with a teaching and demonstration kitchen for classes and visiting chef events, and also with a restaurant, separated from the exhibit hall by a curtain. It has an open kitchen surrounded by a dining bar, and a main bar that has its own history. The antique wooden and glass fixture was once the bar at Brunning’s, a West End seafood restaurant that was wrecked by Hurricane Georges in 1998. The bar was painstakingly restored by the musem and stands a fully-functional exhibit.
Hughes, who made his name as a chef during his tenure at Cafe Degas, conceived Purloo to be part of the museum, and he ran a pop-up rendition of the restaurant for nearly two years while the museum took shape. Purloo opened early in 2015, a few months after the museum’s initial debut.
Southern Food & Beverage Museum
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-569-0405
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.