A year and a half after opening in the CBD, Tava Indian Street Food is closing this weekend. Chef and owner Manish Patel announced on Thursday, November 16, that the creative, modern Indian restaurant would close its doors for good following dinner service on Saturday, November 18.
Patel’s words on the closure echo the recent sentiments of a number of restaurants shutting down this fall, particularly longtime local favorite Marjie’s Grill, which is closing next month. “The increase in food cost and labor cost alone is enough of a challenge,” Patel wrote. “But there’s much more to it than just that.”
Patel references a “post-Covid” shift where remote work has become the norm — Tava’s downtown, commercial-heavy location adjacent to a Rouse’s grocery store has seen less foot traffic since the onset of the pandemic. There was also the “intense heat that plagued the city” over the summer and remained into the fall, causing a longer-than-normal slow season, says Patel. But Patel also goes into customer behavior, saying “Death threats, belligerent/entitled customers, and unrealistic expectations brought on by people who think they know how to run your restaurant better than you,” are all part of the “daily roller coaster” of running a restaurant. Patel concludes with a plea for anyone looking to hire to consider Tava’s staff, and for New Orleanians to support the small businesses they love and want to see stay open.
Tava opened in March 2022 after years as a pop-up and then a stint as a vendor at Auction House Market, a now-closed food hall in the Warehouse District. Patel is known for his contemporary takes on Indian street food, mashing up popular dishes with Indian staples to create playful, nontraditional dishes like a Chicken 65 sandwich, chaat tater tots, and cheesy dosa. Dosa was central to the CBD restaurant, which emphasized shareable dishes, and diners were able to catch a glimpse of their creation on the dosa griddle with seats at the open dining counter. Patel was often behind it, expertly spreading the thin batter to lacy, crispy perfection. Tava’s cocktail program was also notable, with drinks like a masala old fashioned, mango cardamom daiquiri, and curry vodka mule, as was the restaurant’s vivid and stylish interior.
Several New Orleans restaurant owners that have closed in the last few months noted that this past summer was the slowest they’d experienced, like the owners of Le Chat Noir, but more recently, said there wasn’t the typical post-summer upswing in fall business that many restaurants have come to rely on. As such, it seems more restaurants are closing this fall than did over the summer — Marjie’s Grill owners said they decided to close after realizing October numbers fell short of what they needed to be, and Gasa Gasa and Breakaway’s both closed this week, citing a lack of business.
“Yes, my restaurant is closing, but I am looking forward to a new beginning as this chapter closes,” wrote Patel. Eater has reached out to Patel to see if he has plans for Tava to return to the pop-up scene.