by Ian McNulty
One of the better purveyors of bar food in New Orleans is cooking its last redfish sandwich and sautéed duck grilled cheese.
Craig Giesecke, proprietor of J’Anita’s at the Rendon Inn along with his wife Kimmie, confirms that Wednesday, Jan. 24, is their last night. Giesecke says a combination of financial issues and staffing problems for the late-night kitchen forced his hand.
“At least for now, this will end J’Anita’s,” he says.
The news marks the third time J’Anita’s has folded. Its first incarnation came in 2007 as a standalone restaurant serving an offbeat, sometimes playful, menu of breakfast, barbecue and sandwiches in the Lower Garden District. After closing that restaurant in 2009, the husband and wife team were almost immediately invited to set up shop in the tiny kitchen at the Avenue Pub, where they refined their menu to focus on creative, freshly-prepared bar food.
J’Anita’s at the Avenue Pub, as this arrangement was known, lasted 18 months before the limitations of a galley kitchen and the Avenue Pub’s rapidly growing renown as a craft beer destination collided. The Gieseckes parted ways with Avenue Pub, but once again, and nearly as quickly, another bar invited them to take over its own kitchen. That brought them to the Rendon Inn (4501 Eve St., 826-5605) in November 2010.
In business since 1933, the Rendon Inn is a backstreet bar that underwent a major renovation after Katrina, which left it with a large new commercial kitchen. That backstreet location, however, meant that those who weren’t already Rendon Inn regulars had to make a determined effort to find the place, and there rarely seemed to be enough people eating chowing down around the bar.
J’Anita’s previous moves may justify speculation that it will turn up again somewhere, though Giesecke says he’s looking for other opportunities at the moment.