Once upon a time in 1985, an influential restaurant called Arizona 206 helped make southwestern food the thing in New York. A few years later, a red-headed kid named Bobby Flay would crash the scene with Mesa Grill. And before those restaurants, there was the Great Jones Cafe, a casual spot that opened off the Bowery back in ’83. Affordable and by this point normcore, the restaurant weathered the neighborhood’s transformation from gritty to glistening. But the days of jambalaya are over. Tonight’s service will be its last, neighborhood blog EV Grieve reports.
According to the website, the closure is the result of simmering tension. Its former longtime GM Bill Judkins wrote to EV Grieve back in April that he didn’t see eye to eye with his partners. While he saw the restaurant as “unique and special, one of a vanishing breed,” they wanted to change it to appeal to the neighborhood’s newer, more moneyed residents and droves of tourists.
If it seems like a lot of old-school downtown spots have been disappearing, that’s because, well, they are. The restaurant’s shuttering comes on the heel of the abrupt closing of the West Village’s French Roast and Chinatown diner Cup & Saucer, both neighborhood fixtures.
But not all is lost for the lovers of old(er) New York. Owner Tone Balzano Johansen announced that Red Hook dive Sunny’s, which needed to raise $50,000 to stay open, will not close. The bar has been open in various forms since the 1890s, and over that time has become enmeshed into the fabric of Brooklyn.