The Great Jones Cafe Takes a Break After 34-Year Reign Just off the Bowery
One by one, the old guard of the Lower East Side are dropping. The bell tolls today for the Great Jones Cafe, which closed last night after 34 years just off the Bowery. Originally thought to be permanent, the closure is reportedly a weeklong reprieve, during which time the remaining owners will decide whether to keep going.
There is apparently turmoil amongst ownership, with the business trying to come to terms with the changing neighborhood dynamic. EV Grieve had the scoop yesterday, noting that former general manager Bill Judkins was sacked back in March afer 26 years running the business (and longer as an employee). He told EVG:
My two partners and I have not seen eye to eye about the direction the restaurant needed move in for a few years now. I’ve been arguing that The Jones is unique and special, one of a vanishing breed (certainly in Manhattan) that is loved and needs to be preserved. They feel that the Jones needs to be changed into something more contemporary to appeal to the “new” neighborhood.
It came to a head this past March 10, when they forced me out.
Since then, four employees have quit. The jukebox has gone dark. They took the Mardi Gras beads off the bar lamps that they’ve been on for years. They took down the Christmas lights that illuminated the room. I’m not sure what other changes are planned.
I think it has been a special little “joint” for many, many years. It seems a sad way for it to go down.
The Cajun-Creole restaurant opened at Great Jones Street in 1983.