Less than 24 hours after Sammy’s Grill in Prairieville and Creole Cabana in Baton Rouge announced permanent closures comes another bombshell for Baton Rouge residents: Sammy’s Grill on Highland Road is joining the pack, shutting its doors for good after tonight.
Its permanent closure—announced around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a Facebook post—marks the end of 32 years of business, during which time Sammy’s became something of a Baton Rouge staple, known for its seafood, burgers and Southern cuisine. But for those who knew the restaurants’ financial picture, the announcements, while sad, come as little surprise.
“We’re sorry it didn’t work for Sammy [Nagem], but we understood their financial situation when we bought them,” says Donnie Jarreau, who, along with Ryan Jumonville, bought both Sammy’s Grill properties from Sammy Nagem in late May.
All three restaurants are owned by Nagem, whose two Sammy’s Grill restaurants faced eviction after Jarreau filed suit against them in December for failing to pay their rent.
However, Jarreau didn’t evict the restaurants; instead, he tells Daily Report that Nagem made the decision to close them, pressed by “dire” financial problems that Jarreau says went beyond missed rent payments.
Still, Jarreau says he doesn’t have any regrets about going into business with the restaurant, citing Nagem’s local legacy.
“As investors, we still feel confident in this investment,” says Jarreau, speaking for himself and Jumonville. “They’ve got great demographics, traffic counts, locations, histories of high-volume sales—they check all the boxes.”
What’s next for the two Sammy’s Grill properties remains uncertain. Jarreau says he and Jumonville expect to “take a step back and evaluate the properties” before discussing marketing plans sometime next week. They’ve already received “numerous inquiries” on both locations, he adds, declining to elaborate.
And what’s going to replace Creole Cabana, the Caribbean-inspired restaurant anchoring The Oasis recreational development along Burbank Drive?
Chris Shaheen, the developer behind The Oasis, says he’s been in talks with “three or four” interested parties, expecting to have a new tenant secured within the next couple of weeks and reopen the space within the next 60 days.
“I saw the writing on the wall and started working on replacements long before [Creole Cabana] closed,” Shaheen says, declining to identify potential replacements. “We’re still going to do crawfish and catering, but it will probably be more of a sports bar concept with a tweak. We’re also playing around with personal pizzas.”
Sammy’s Grill on Highland will be open today from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., giving out T-shirts as a “keepsake.”