After nearly three years of operations, Lagniappe Nica’s Cajun Kitchen has closed.
Chef Bryan Merker took over the former Shiraz Restaurant space at 320 Southwest Blvd., opening Nica’s 320 in August 2011. He served “fusion comfort food” and a handful of Cajun items to “moderate” success.
So two years later, Merker tried to make the spot more profitable. He changed the name to Lagniappe Nica’s Cajun Kitchen to reflect a menu that would focus on chef-driven Cajun cuisine, including apple moonshine smoked pork shoulder and smoked-bacon praline brulee.
Lagniappe, which “can mean something sweet and unexpected,” was much more successful than Nica’s 320, he said.
But then Merker branched out, opening Beignet in the City Market and consulting on two other smaller restaurant concepts — The Bite, also in the City Market, and FooDoo in midtown.
“The overhead is less and you can open multiple locations and not bank on just one spot,” he said. “I really like creating the concept and building the brand much more than the day-to-day operations. We want to offer a certain price point and something different, outside the box.”
Merker temporarily shut down Lagniappe on June 28 to remodel parts of the kitchen and refresh the dining room. But he also was looking at ways to “reconcept” the restaurant, either with new partners or by subleasing it to new owners.
“But we just couldn’t get it done in the time frame we needed. All of our licenses were coming up for renewal so if there were changes that’s when we had to do them,” Merker said.
It might not be long before a new restaurant moves into the spot. Ivan Marquez is scouting locations for a second Frida’s Taqueria and is interested in the Lagniappe space. But so is another Crossroads area restaurant group.
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