Controversial ‘Gabrielle’ dinners on hold again at the Uptowner amid litigation

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Article by Marta Jewson for

The Uptowner, 438 Henry Clay Avenue.

Greg Sonnier, owner of the Uptowner, has suspended the Gabrielle small banquet dinners at his restaurant pending the resolution of a lawsuit.

This spring, Sonnier resumed offering the dishes from his popular Mid-City restaurant at the Uptowner on Henry Clay Avenue through contracts for dinner service with individual patrons.

The Uptowner released a statement last month, however, saying a petition filed in Civil District Court could take away the restaurant’s licenses and permits, and that the lawsuit seeks to change 438 Henry Clay Avenue from a commercial building to residential. Sonnier maintains the lot has always been zoned for commercial use.

Sonnier said via email that he was instructed by his attorney not to comment on the case, but that it has been a very stressful and difficult period for his family since Huricane Katrina struck. For now, the Uptowner will solely be used as a reception and banquet hall, the business’s emails state.

Sonnier’s attorney, Robert Stern, said the case remains in litigation and the trial will be held in December.

Marta Jewson is a freelance reporter and photographer based in New Orleans.

17 thoughts on “Controversial ‘Gabrielle’ dinners on hold again at the Uptowner amid litigation

  1. The Sonnier’s situation is THE textbook example of how cronyisim and NIMBY attitudes are killing small business development in this city. We can only hope that they prevail. Please keep us updated and if you can publish the names of the individuals bringing the suit (as if we don’t already have a good idea) that would be wonderful as their actions are shameful and only hurt the city.

    • It’s no secret. The name is public record, and he’s been quoted in the media before. His name is Michael Sherman. He’s argued that parking issues are so bad in the area that no business that further stresses the parking situation should be allowed.

      • which is COMPLETELY ABSURD. i live 3 blocks away. Nearly everyone in the neighborhood as a driveway, and those that don’t have access to AMPLE street parking. It’s just ridiculous. NIBYism at its worst.

      • My comment was more to point out the fact that if it is public record why not include who flied the petition in your article? You discuss some detail of the lawsuit but never mentioned who was bringing it. What Sherman is doing is selfish and shameful and his name should not be protected by the media.

  2. I, too, live in the neighborhood and welcome the commercial traffic from Clancy’s and Patois. It is petty and small minded to have put the Sonniers through so much hardship. I don’t know them personally, but fully support their ongoing efforts to run a successful business.

  3. Wow. messing with someone’s livelihood is so un-neighborly. One of the things I love most about New Orleans is being able to walk to a restaurant or a coffee shop from my house. I live near Freret and when Dat Dog opened the available street parking spots definitely shrunk, but not in the evenings after they closed or in the morning and the spots come and go all day so it really isn’t an issue. Sometimes I have to walk a block….big deal. I love having the activity on the street and its part of the charm of my ‘hood. I hope that more of the Sonnier’s neighbors support his efforts to re-open and run his business the way wants to.

    • He is paid over 89k a year by NOLA taxpayers to be Mitch’s personal counsel.
      Mitch is an atty with 20 years experience.
      Has Sherman EVER even practiced law? Doesn’t Mitch have an entire City Atty’s office at his disposal?
      Sherman is a political favor to Carville and he moved.
      He owned a condo next door to Sonier and started this mess.

  4. can’t believe this is STILL going on! and the issue of “parking” or “noise” issues?! ABSURD! as a fine dining restaurant you’re not going to have drunk people yelling & hanging around outside as if you lived by Tracey’s on Magazine St. There is PLENTY of parking in the area & they would offer valet which from what I understand, they already received permission to use a nearby business’s parking lot for Valet at night since that business closes at 5pm. This is nothing more than a jerk on City Council not wanting a better restaurant in a neighborhood where he also owns a restaurant & could possibly be put out of business by the EXCELLENT food of Greg & Mary Sonnier. They are incredible people, they are talented and they deserve a positive & final conclusion & I hope once they are allowed to operate their restaurant as they were told they could 6 years ago, they will get their money back from fighting this ABSURD challenge from a ridiculous claim.

  5. I admire New Orleans culture from afar. The chefs of your city are just as important to the culture of New Orleans as the music. To impede Chef Sonnier’s recovery after Katrina is shameful. The space he has on Henry Clay was always intended as a restuarant/ ballroom. It’s a waste of space not to use it for such. I wonder how his NIMBY neighbors would feel if they lost their livelhood. I had people your own fair city tell me Greg Sonnier was one of the top chefs in New Orleans. I hope the city council will make it so once again. Or maybe the money and power of his neighbors is more important than preserving the culture and vitality of this unique city, people, and food. Marc Parnell

  6. This is such a tragic story; I lived in this area and never experienced problems with the Uptowner. When I heard that Gabrielle purchased the building, I was enthused that another great restaurant would be in our area. It is my hope that the Audubon Riverside residents learn to harmonize with businesses willing to invest into our neighborhoods. This is what makes New Orleans neighborhoods special. I remain fathomed that this has been such a difficult issue.

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