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Lady N’awlins Cajun Cafe in the Fan to close doors next month after 12-year run

Inflation, food costs, and staffing issues were cited among reasons for the closure.

Trevor Dickerson

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Longtime Fan restaurant Lady N’awlins Cajun Café is closing its doors at the end of the month after a 12-year run. Owner Jake Crocker shared the news on his personal Facebook page Friday afternoon, announcing the Cajun restaurant would shutter September 4th and citing inflation and staffing issues among the reasons for the closure.

The basement bar was a staple of the upper Fan since 2012 for many over the years, your humble author included.

The full post follows from Crocker:

Well folks, for those that don’t already know or haven’t picked up on all the hints that staff have been dropping, we’re planning on wrapping up operations at Lady N’awlins in the next few weeks. We are open for limited hours now based on staff availability. Our final day will be Sunday, September 4th.

With the escalating cost of doing business across the board and the dramatic drop-off in people dining out here and everywhere this summer, it simply doesn’t make economic sense to keep pushing. We’ve held this place down for almost twelve years and are extremely proud of our run. People doubted a Cajun restaurant would work in Richmond, but it did and lasted vastly longer than most predicted and profoundly touched many lives along the way.

It’s been a rocky road, particularly the past two and a half years having to close not once, but twice during the pandemic. We battled through and a year ago were overrun with business, but couldn’t find enough staff to handle it. We persisted and honestly thought we were in the best place we’ve ever been just a few months ago, but this summer everything changed. We’re not the first to make this decision as a result and certainly won’t be the last.

Life is short and after some agonizing soul searching with my amazing wife Chantel Crocker we decided it was time to close this chapter of our lives so we can start the next one. This is not a decision we took lightly as this is where we met and a place we’ve both put our hearts and souls into. She actually fell in love with the restaurant before she even met me, and for that alone, I’ll always be grateful for Lady N’awlins.

As for what’s next for the space, who knows? Conversations are being had and the door is open for other discussions. But as for us, we’re locking the doors for the last time on September 4th and we expect a parade of people we love to keep coming in as they have been this whole week with word leaking out. If and when someone else unlocks those doors again, we’ll be excited to be its first and frequent customers. As for what is next for us, that’s a mystery. I’m putting my marketing consulting company Crocker Strategy back on the front burner and I’m still part-time working on behalf of the Virginia National Guard. The restaurant was my primary income so I’m certainly open to options, but my thirteen years as a restauranteur will be coming to an end and I’m grateful for the experience. The same can be said with Chantel, who’s been on this corner with me for the past eight years making this thing go.

I’d like to thank all the relationships I’ve made during my time at this crazy corner of Main Street. I’m grateful to the staff, regulars, partners, vendors, family, friends, neighbors and even those that just popped in only once to check us out. I always hoped we’d create a place that was meaningful and more than just a business. We did that not just once but with F.W. Sullivan’s, twice! “The Lady” however always seemed to resonate a bit deeper.

I am extremely grateful for enough memories to fill a million lifetimes and I’m very excited to turn the page and write the next chapter. Thank you from the bottom of our purple hearts for the years of love you all have shown toward Lady N’awlins!

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.