After more than 35 years, owner Nina Buck will close the doors on the Palm Court Jazz Café on June 2.

NEW ORLEANS — On Wednesday, the Palm Court Jazz Café announced it would permanently close its doors after 35 years of “music, food and fun” along Decatur Street in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans.

While news of the closure could come as a surprise to the many musicians who’ve performed on Palm Court’s stage and its patrons who’ve dined on the delictable dishes served up by head chef Bobby Davis, costs have become too much to handle for owner Nina Buck.

“It was a hard decision,” Buck told WWL Louisiana. “It’s very difficult to maintain the quality of the music, the food, the ambiance. The bills just got higher and higher. The taxes got higher and higher, and I kept putting my own money in, and I just didn’t have the money to do it anymore.”

Despite feeling squeezed out due to the rising cost of food, liquor, utilities, taxes and fees, Buck tosses no blame for the price of doing business in 2024.

“All the different taxes: payroll taxes, these taxes, that taxes,” Buck explained. “But, you know, they have to be paid because we have to maintain the city and the property taxes, of course, which are very high.”

In relation to the current cost of taxes and utilities, Buck was asked if she had any suggestions for the city in terms of working with small businesses to optimize success and longevity.

“I’m not a politician. I’m not a council member, and I don’t really know what the answer is. I just know that I’ve tried my best,” she said. “I really tried my best. I worked hard for this. I love it. And so I’m sad to see it go, but I wouldn’t like it to be changed.”

Buck refuses to settle for second-best just to keep the overhead down. 

“I would not reduce the standards,” she said. “I want my six-piece band. I want the good food. I want employees who enjoy their work, and that’s been a big part of Palm Court.”

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After more than 35 years, owner Nina Buck will close the doors on the Palm Court Jazz Café on June 2.

Buck places a heavy emphasis on the health and happiness of her employees, paying them every summer, just as she did during the COVID pandemic, while the Palm Court is closed for the season.

The people who’ve made up the staff over the past three decades are more than just employees – they’re family. Just like Chef Davis, who started working at Palm Court since he was 16 when he would clean the bathrooms on the weekends.

“They got a lot of places here that you can go and hear this music, but it’s just different when you come through those doors and it’s going to be missed,” Davis told WWL. “Because when you come through those doors…you are family it’s like coming home.”

Manager Kathy Edegran also talked about the extended family that is Palm Court.

“It’s musicians and staff alike, they are like family,” said Edegran, who’s worked for the business for more than 25 years. “We all treat each other with the same respect as you would a family member.

“I can’t say enough, I have to thank them all,” the tearful Nottingham, England native told WWL. “It really just makes me well up thinking about it, that I won’t be interacting with them on a daily or weekly basis.”

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Buck opened the Palm Court Jazz Café with her late husband – and international music mogul George Buck – in January 1989. She credits her longtime love for helping her share the gift of music and cuisine with so many.

“My husband George Buck was instrumental in supporting me in this project,” the 82-year-old native of Yorkshire, England said in a thoughtful letter shared on the Palm Court’s website announcing the closure. “Without George Buck there would have been no Palm Court.”

The final day of operation is set for Sunday, June 2.

The future of the building and the business is unknown. The Jazzology/GHB Jazz Foundation established by George owns the building, while Nina Buck owns the restaurant and name.

“At the moment, I’m very conflicted,” she admitted. “It depends what we do with the building because the trust owns the building.

“We’ve got a meeting coming with the lawyers at the end of the month and decide what will be done overall. You know, unless someone is going to do it in the way that it is – and it’s not easy. 

“So, unless they’re going to do something like that…we may do something else with the building. I’m not sure.” 

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After more than 35 years, owner Nina Buck will close the doors on the Palm Court Jazz Café on June 2.

The complete statement as posted on the Palm Court website reads:

“From Nina Buck, Palm Court Jazz Café:

“I am very sad to announce that Palm Court Jazz Café will permanently close its doors on June 2 after 35 years of music, food and fun.

“The initial concept of the Palm Court was to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a time gone by when dining and listening to music could be enjoyed and appreciated together.

“My husband George Buck was instrumental in supporting me in this project.  Without George Buck there would have been no Palm Court.

“George established the Jazzology/GHB Jazz Foundation to insure that the many areas of American music would endure in perpetuity.  His legacy lives on with Jazzology/GHB  residing in same building as Palm Court.

“Over the years the Palm Court has featured many of New Orleans greatest musicians and vocalists. Performing in a room inspired by the 30’s and 40’s.  A mahogany bar, Steinway piano, historic collection of photos. We are proud to have created a venue and atmosphere which in it’s way is unique.

“A feeling of family exists among the musicians, staff and patrons who have all made the place very special. However, I would like to make special mention of Kathy Edegran for her loyalty, business acumen, public relations and her tenacity to never give up.

“Another special mention is to Bobby Davis my excellent Chef who has been with me for many years and created  fine food in the kitchen and trained many young people over the years.

“We regret this decision but we have had to make it for a variety of reasons financial and rising costs which have made it impossible for us to continue and maintain our high standards.

“So thank you all for your love and support of the Palm Court Jazz Café over the years.

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