New York Deli crew takes over Lady N’awlins building

The former Lady N’awlins Cajun Café building at 2329 W. Main St. (Mike Platania photo)

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.

Demetrios Tsiptsis

“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.

The former Lady N’awlins Cajun Café building at 2329 W. Main St. (Mike Platania photo)

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.

Demetrios Tsiptsis

“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.

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charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
1 month ago

Everybody is doing creole cajun badly, plenty of demand for a good New Orleans place

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
1 month ago

no doubt – I’m not sure there has been a consistently good creole restaurant in RVA in 20+ years (and that for sure includes Lady N’Awlins)

Chris Crews
Chris Crews
1 month ago
Reply to  Craig Davis

Reaching back a bit, but I remember Gumbo YaYa having a pretty banging menu.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
1 month ago

Credit goes to the owners of The New York deli. It’s hard to replace good workers these days. Hopefully the replacement employees will know why they are filling these positions and appreciate it.

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago

So does this mean the SUP for the space in Byrd Park at 401 Stafford is to be cancelled/withdrawn? Ord 2022-268 was to put a restaurant in space and it was to be run by employees of New York Deli?

sara marie
sara marie
1 month ago

congrats and best wishes to you all. glad to see Zemlan’s name on this venture as well. looking forward to it!

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
1 month ago

I’d like to see a story on the history of NY Deli and all of their business ventures over the years. It’s hard to keep up with the offshoots and players. From the historic deli to the transformation of the space, Portrait House, Don’t Look Back, 11 months, a crowdsourced rooftop to a major real estate acquisition. Quite an interesting run.

Brian Ezzelle
Brian Ezzelle
1 month ago

My wife’s uncle and his brother got in a fight there during WWII and threw some 1940s beatnick through the front window when he did a Heil Hitler joke. Good times.

John Klepadlo
John Klepadlo
1 month ago

I really hope that this doesn’t turn into a club with dance tracks like shut up and dance playing to overpriced cocktails and a lack of gator.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  John Klepadlo

A club playing “Shut up and dance with me”?

Only if they have a time machine to 2014.