Nov 2, 2023 - News

French Quarter restaurant Saint John closes

A black and white image of Saint John chef de cuisine Daren Porretto and executive chef Eric Cook fist-bumping across a table while sitting in a booth at Saint John. The table is filled with plated food.

Saint John chef de cuisine Daren Porretto, left, and executive chef Eric Cook exchange a fist-bump. Photo courtesy of Saint John

Chef Eric Cook has closed his French Quarter restaurant, Saint John, indefinitely, he says, citing mismanagement across city and utility leadership.

Why it matters: The chef's experience highlights difficulties long grumbled about in New Orleans by residents and business owners alike.

What's happening: Cook posted to social media Thursday after the power at his French Quarter restaurant was turned off over an unpaid Entergy New Orleans bill.

  • That bill, Cook says, asks $40,000 in payment for what Cook refers to as "a ghost meter."
  • It's second time Entergy New Orleans hit Cook with an overlarge bill, he says, after a $35,000 payment was mistakenly auto-drafted from a bank account during the coronavirus lockdown.

What he's saying: "The City of New Orleans is in crisis, and it is being played like an old rerun of a comedy of errors," Cook writes.

The other side: Entergy New Orleans legally can't disclose customer billing details without the customer's OK, and a utility spokesperson says Cook hasn't yet granted permission.

  • "We can say that prior to any disconnect, our team will visit a site to confirm the meter reading and location," the spokesman says. "Standard procedure was followed in this instance."
  • Service at Saint John would be restored, according to the spokesman, once a payment plan is agreed upon "that [restaurant ownership] can afford."

Worth noting: Cook's Lower Garden District restaurant, Gris-Gris, and its sister to-go outlet, Gris-Gris To Go Go, remain open.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Entergy New Orleans. Three days after it was published, Saint John reopened amid negotiations with Entergy.


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