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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cincinnati's Banks Project Claims New Orleans Restaurant Chain Backed Out of Deal: Queen City's Riverfront Losing NOLA Flavor?

Cincy Loses Eatery Named After Gov. Huey P. Long
By James McNair
Special to the Bellwether
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- It didn’t take long for The Banks development, Cincinnati’s answer to Newport on the Levee across the Ohio River, to spill into the county courthouse. Just a few months after a group of three New Orleans-based dining and drinking establishments failed to open as scheduled, Banks landlord Riverbanks Renaissance Phase 1-A Owner LLC has filed suit to collect back rent and more than $200,000 in improvements.

 The suit, filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court by Earl Messer and Dominick Gerace of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, names as defendants TWL LCN TB Cincinnati LLC (the corporate name for The Wine Loft wine bar and La Crepe Nanou restaurant) and Huey’s TB Cincinnati LLC (better known as Huey’s 24/7 Diner). It also names their parent company, Doyle Restaurant Group, which guaranteed the lease. Doyle is based in New Orleans.

 The Banks announced exactly one year ago that The Wine Loft, La Crepe Nanou and Huey’s were coming. As agreed under the lease, Riverbanks paid $128,160 to TWL as a first installment toward its interior improvements. It paid $80,000 to Huey’s. For their part, TWL was supposed to start paying $17,644 a month in rent – Huey’s $11,110 per month – six months after they signed the lease. They were also supposed to submit their building plans and contribute toward The Banks’ operating and marketing funds. They were supposed to open by Oct. 7.

Riverbanks, which is based in Atlanta, says none of that happened. Now it wants a judge to order the return of its $208,160 in advances and the payment of all rent and payments owed under the lease. The defendants have yet to file a response.
The defendants' problems don't appear to be confined to Cincinnati. According to press accounts, a Wine Loft franchise in Pittsburgh's trendy SouthSide Works filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law last October. One month later, a Wine Loft in the Gulch district in Nashville's west end closed after an 18-month run.

According to its Website, Doyle operates 18 Wine Lofts, one La Crepe Nanou and two Huey’s. Huey’s was named after the colorful former Louisiana governor Huey P. Long, the Kingfish.  Naturally, the restaurant serves Cajun food.  Taking over the Wine Loft and La Crepe Nanou spaces in The Banks is The Wine Guy Wine Shop & Bistro, which is already open in Rookwood in Norwood.


  1. Think Skyline Chili will ever put a parlor in the French Quarter? Hmm, a three way in New Orleans sounds like fun. Wink, wink.

  2. I love Cajun food. Polly Campbell should give us a rundown on local Cajun places. Kroeger Bros. at Findlay Mkt. makes terrific Andouille sausage. Too bad these N.O. places won't be at The Banks.

  3. The Bengals cheer "Who Dey" was ripped off from the Saints cheer "Who Dat." So ya'll still have some Nawlins flavor in the Queen City.

    1. no....who dey as in Hu-de (Hudepohl) was a Cincinnati beer before either the Bengals or the Saints were in the NFL....vendors at Crosley used to yell "Get Moody with Hudy...Rock and Roll with Hudepohl!"

    2. I have never heard either of those theories above. Didn't it start at Crowley's up on Mount Adams. I have a faint recollection of having been told that over the years by the late David Crowley, who was a City Council member.

  4. It is always a sad day when a restaurant closes or fails to open.