An idle Fan restaurant space is set to get new life thanks to a crew from Carytown.
Last week, the owners of New York Deli – Demetrios Tsiptsis, Rodion Tsiptsis and David Zemlan – bought the former Lady N’awlins Cajun Café building at 2329 W. Main St. for $840,000.
In lieu of taking over the space themselves, the owners are planning to hand the keys to Jacque Branch and Rickee Jones, a pair of Deli employees who will open their own restaurant there.
The building’s commercial space, which sits below two apartments, was vacated by Lady N’awlins in early September after a 12-year run. Demetrios Tsiptsis said it was during the time of Lady N’awlins’ predecessor, The White Dog Restaurant, that he connected with the building’s former owner Barry Pruitt.
“I’m going to say it was almost 17 years ago, (Pruitt) said he might like to sell it someday. So I took his name and number down and filed it away,” Tsiptsis said. “When I heard Lady N’awlins was closing, I asked him if the building was for sale, and it all just came to a head at that point. He remembered me. He likes the Deli. So, we went ahead and bought it.”
The deal began to come together around the same time New York Deli’s new rooftop bar opened in Carytown.
Tsiptsis said they bought the Lady N’awlins building knowing that they didn’t want to open another restaurant themselves but were confident they could pass it to Branch and Jones.
“I went to (Jones and Branch) and I said, ‘I know you guys have wanted to open your own restaurant, I think I have the best opportunity for you. This is turn-key. Everything’s in there. I won’t gouge you on rent and anything you guys need I can help with.’
Added Jones, “(Branch and I) kind of looked at each other and were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’”
Jones and Branch are still finalizing the concept and name for the restaurant but said that it’ll be inspired by the bayou.
“For us, we’re focused on historically Louisianan cuisine, which is not always what people would think,” Branch said. “We’re thinking of 17th-century Spain, French and Caribbean-inspired dishes. Everyone’s doing creole Cajun. We want to go outside that.”
In addition to a deep-clean of the space, the crew is renovating the restaurant area anticipating an early 2023 opening.
“We’ve exposed a lot of the brick, a lot of the walls are no longer there and you can see what the building used to look like,” Branch said. “Everything will be very light and we’re definitely opening the space up.”
Jones and Branch said they’re looking to cater to Fan locals and regulars.
“Our main dream is that everyone who lives around there is like, ‘Oh, I’ll stop by and get my favorite shrimp po’boy sliders,” Branch said. “When you want something to comfort you or when you’re on your way home, you can pop in and get a quick cocktail or appetizer.”
Meanwhile, across the street in the former F.W. Sullivan’s space at 2401 W. Main St., a new restaurant bar called Cure just opened. It’s from Neil Kaisani, who also owns Shockoe Slip bar Therapy.