Rattling the chains: In the French Quarter, more moves for some chain restaurants

For as much local character as the French Quarter exudes, a number of big national chains hold down some important real estate in the historic district. Lately, a few on the restaurant front have been in motion.

BB King’s opens in former Margaritaville

Last summer, the Jimmy Buffett theme restaurant Margaritaville closed after 22 years at its Decatur Street location, near the French Market. At the time, the company said it intended to reopen elsewhere in the French Quarter, though there’s been no word on those plans since.

Another music-themed eatery, BB King’s Blues Club, announced its own plans to take over the 1104 Decatur St. location, and this combination restaurant/bar/music venue quietly opened around the new year. The large building looks much the same from the street, and inside it retains the same basic layout, with two floors of dining rooms, a main stage and small second bar fronting Decatur Street.

The menu has a Southern theme with barbecue and a few New Orleans-style dishes.

Landry’s in the French Quarter shutters

After 20 years in the French Quarter, the Landry’s Seafood House location at 400 N. Peters Street has closed. The restaurant lost its lease to make way for an expanding retailer, Urban Outfitters.

The restaurant is part of Landry’s Inc., a huge, Houston-based chain of restaurant brands, hotels and entertainment complexes. It closed the French Quarter location last week.

“We have been and are continuing to search for a new location and hope to be back in the French Quarter in the not too distant future,” said Charles Mayer, divisional vice president of Landry’s Seafood, in a prepared statement.

A second area location for Landry’s, a waterfront spot at 8000 Lakeshore Dr., remains open. The parent company also operates Morton’s on Canal Street and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the “Forest Gump” theme restaurant in the French Quarter.

Nothing doing at former Ralph & Kacoo’s

Meanwhile, the huge former home of Ralph & Kacoo’s in the 500 block of Toulouse Street remains empty. Last year around this time, local developer Earl Weber confirmed plans to convert the former warehouse space into condos, with the ground floor space being reserved for a restaurant.

While Weber said the condos are progressing, he’s still looking for a restaurant operator.

The building’s restaurant space covers 12,000 square feet, and in the Ralph & Kacoo’s configuration it was advertised as accommodating up to 700 people for banquets and events.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.

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