RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The owner of Richmond’s Lady N’awlins Cajun Cafe in The Fan has announced that the establishment will be closing in a couple of weeks.
“Unfortunately, battling through two and a half years of a pandemic and recent escalating costs of doing business has made moving forward impossible. We are operating with limited hours based on staff availability through the end of the month,” a post on the restaurant’s Instagram reads. “This restaurant means everything to us and we know it means so much to so many of you. It’s a decision that was not taken lightly or in haste. This Lady would stay with you forever if it could.”
Crocker started the business in February 2011 along with several partners.
“At that time, RVA was more of a meat and potatoes town, and cajun was crazy!” Crocker told 8News. “I had a passion for the food, and Richmond was lacking in it.”
Crocker said that the restaurant’s menu is a mix of Cajun and Creole styles, including signature dishes like the “Bourbon Street Shrimp ‘n Grits” and the “Jambalaya Pasta.”
“It was more than just food, it was so much more than that,” Crocker said. “Lady was a little deeper, and tended to build more meaningful relationships, it’s a special place…People have met their wives there, including me.”
Crocker’s wife Chantel was a former brunch regular at the restaurant before starting work there in 2014. The two have been working together for around eight years, according to Crocker.
“She’s really the heart and soul of the place, she’s the lady of the Lady,” he said.
The restaurant will remain open for a couple more weeks with limited hours based on staff availability. On Sunday, Sept. 4, however, the restaurant will close its doors for the last time.
“Frankly, we took a beating in a variety of ways,” Crocker said in reference to the restaurant’s closing. “We have so many economic factors that are involved in rising costs, and restaurants are at the front line of that.”
In addition to increased costs, Crocker says economic strains are affecting the habits of restaurant-going customers.
“Customers are more verbal and quick to judge than they were pre-pandemic,” he said. “People have bills to pay, and they are going to choose to eat at home…All the restaurants are having these same conversations right now, you’re going to see more of it.”
Crocker is now looking to the future and planning to shift focus to his marketing and advertising business.
“I’m going to go out with some positive energy, and Chantel and I are looking forward to the next phase,” he said.
As for Lady N’awlins, Crocker said he is just happy for the people he’s met and the memories he’s made.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the run we’ve had,” he said. “And we’re excited [to be] frequent customers of whatever moves in there next.”