The Praline Connection was in business on Frenchmen Street for close to 30 years before changing hands and relocating to the French Quarter late last year. The move did not go well.
The Praline Connection closed before Mardi Gras and its location at 301 Decatur St. remains empty.
Aaron Motwani, the local restaurant operator who bought Praline Connection from its founders last year, said the restaurant will return but could not yet say where or when.
“We’re definitely going to open up the Praline Connection again,” he said. “It’s an iconic brand and has a lot of value in it.”
After moving the restaurant, he said, problems with its business processes became apparent and were too ingrained in the operation to overcome while remaining open. He said he intends to "tweak" the menu and revisit staff training before reopening.
Motwani, whose family owns many properties in the French Quarter, also runs Willie's Chicken Shack, a local chain for fried chicken and daiquiris. After moving the Praline Connection, he developed a new Willie's location in its former home at 542 Frenchmen St.
This Willie's essentially swapped locations with the older Creole eatery. The Decatur Street property where the Praline Connection briefly operated was previously a Willie's location.
At the time of the move, Motwani said he saw more potential for the Praline Connection and its menu of homestyle dishes closer to Canal Street, with easier access to locals and the large hotels. He explained it as a way to reintroduce the restaurant to customers and eventually expand the brand with more locations.
Curtis Moore and Cecil Kaigler started the Praline Connection in 1990. It served a menu of beans and greens, chicken and ribs, po-boys and gumbo as the old commercial strip in the Faubourg Marigny slowly began to grow as a nightlife hub. In recent years, the popularity of Frenchmen Street has exploded, drawing throngs of tourists and a wave of new businesses.
The Praline Connection founders have remained on board as consultants since selling the restaurant and will assist with its next moves, Motwani said.
Early in 2018, the restaurant opened a spin-off called Praline Connection Express at 2323 Canal St., across from the VA hospital. This location subsequently closed.
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