John Besh on Taking over Tujague’s: 'A Long Shot at Best'

The chef has been in talks to take over the New Orleans institution
Tujague's has been a French Quarter institution since 1856.

Tujague’s Restaurant is one of New Orleans’ most historic spots, and the city's second-oldest restaurant, having opened in 1856. The amount of history inside the space boggles the mind: the cypress standing bar is said to be the city’s oldest, O. Henry was a regular, the mirror behind the bar is more than 250 years old, the Grasshopper cocktail was reportedly invented there, and so on. But after owner Steven Latter passed away recently, his sons Mark and Stanford have been considering selling the space for more than $5 million, according to The New York Times, and there’s the possibility that it could next become a T-shirt shop.

Restaurateur John Besh, who runs some of the city’s finest restaurants (including August and Domenica), has expressed an interest in stepping in and purchasing the space, but in an exclusive interview with The Daily Meal, he admitted that things aren’t looking great.

"We’re still trying to work out a deal, but it’s really difficult," he said. "There are a lot of family dynamics at play, and it’s hard for an outsider to just impose. To curve any of the dynamics that already exist, I think, is outside of my realm of ability."

And while it might be slow-going, it’s clear that Besh knows the value of the space and is still holding out hope that he might be able to make it work.

"I’m hoping that we might be able to salvage the great old restaurant," he added. "I love the fact that New Orleans has all these restaurants that are over a hundred years old, but it would be a long shot at best."

Hopefully the odds work in his favor, or at least in the favor of someone who will be able to treat the space with the respect it deserves. 

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