Does riverfront location have a restaurant jinx?Published 6:23pm Monday, July 29, 2013
After two years of slow business, New Orleans Bar and Grill, located at 8 Mulberry Road, officially closed its doors. Opening in July 2011, the restaurant offered a scenic view of the Alabama River and a Cajun inspired menu.
According to co-owner Moe Aziz, a lack of support from the community is to blame for the restaurant’s failure.
“We tried everything. People just never supported it,” Aziz said. “We renovated the whole place, and it cost us a fortune to do it.”
Before it was New Orleans Bar and Grill, the venue was a Mexican restaurant, Diego’s, and before that it was the Fish House.
Co-owner Beverly Rooks said the restaurant location has struggled for several years.
“Everyone said it was great food, great atmosphere, great location — but there just wasn’t enough business to keep it open,” Rooks said. “From what I’ve been told, there’s been restaurants there for the past 30 years and nobody’s been successful.”
Besides offering an authentic menu and appealing location, the restaurant also housed one of the few bars in Selma. Rooks said to entice residents to visit the bar; she would book bands at least twice a month. However, this effort came up short, as the bar remained empty most weekends.
“Sometimes the place would be packed when we didn’t have a band and other times, like on a Friday night, we would have a packed house with no band and then Saturday night we would have a $700 to $800 band and we would have four people show up,” Rooks said. “It was just hard to work the crowd.”
The first few months after opening, Aziz said the restaurant and bar saw some business, but not nearly enough to sustain the venue.
“For some reason, it was just never there,” Aziz said of community support for the restaurant and bar. “I wasted a lot of money trying to make that place right and run it right. It just never worked.”
The privately owned property where the restaurant and bar resides is currently vacant, secluded by a wire fence. Both Aziz and Rooks said they have no plans to open another restaurant in Selma.