When Juan’s Flying Burrito announced it would close its Uptown location on Magazine Street, the local restaurant brand also said it was determined to find a new home somewhere around the same general part of town.
Now this newest Juan’s Flying Burrito is taking shape a few miles away in the former home of Live Oak Café, at 8140 Oak St.
Pending a round of renovations, the new restaurant is slated to open sometime in August, said co-owner Jay Morris.
It’s the latest move among many for the restaurants and bars along this part of Oak Street, a historic commercial stretch with a Main Street feel.
Live Oak Cafe was a unique spot that combined a restaurant with a small music venue. It closed just after Jazz Fest, after struggling to operate through the pandemic.
The corner address is roughly the same size as Juan’s Mid-City location. It will serve the same menu shared by all three current New Orleans locations (Juan’s this year also opened its first out-of-town location in Pensacola, Florida).
“It’s Juan’s Flying Burrito coming in, maintaining our Uptown presence, just a little farther up the bend,” said Morris.
He said the company wanted a location in the Uptown area with a neighborhood feel, a local clientele and in a historic building.
This new address was for decades one of the many branches of McKenzie’s Bakery. It had a stint as a café called Brown’s Diner and then in 2004 it became Oak Street Café and later Live Oak Café.
Dubbed a Creole taqueria, Juan’s serves a nontraditional take on Mexican flavors, with an always-busy bar scene for margaritas and mezcal cocktails.
The company closed its Uptown location at 5538 Magazine St. citing rising commercial lease rates in the area. The same company had run its pizzeria concept Slice there since 2009, converting it into a Juan’s in 2017 (the operators subsequently sold Slice, which remains open at 1513 St. Charles Ave.).
The Oak Street neighborhood it’s joining has seen significant change among its restaurant and bar scene through the pandemic. In addition to the loss of Live Oak Café, Pho Bistreaux and Cowbell have closed in recent months. More have debuted here despite hard times, however, including Seafood Sally’s, the Jamaican restaurant 14 Parishes and the taproom brewery Oak Street Brewery.
New additions also on the way including a Japanese izakaya (or tavern) called Sukeban and a new brewpub called Calliope Beer Works now developing in the former home of Cowbell. Both are slated to open this summer.
Plans were announced last year for another Mexican restaurant called Mucho Mas, located across from the future Juan’s at 8201 Oak St. (in the former home of Cajun restaurant DTB). This was announced as a more ambitious and wide-ranging concept from Julio Machado. The status of Mucho Mas was unclear at this writing.