‘It’s been my life’: Upperline’s Clevenger, 83, lists restaurant for sale at $1.725M

Published: May. 29, 2022 at 8:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of New Orleans’ most honored and beloved restaurants went up for sale this weekend, as the family that opened Upperline nearly 40 years ago listed its building, furnishings and equipment for $1.725 million.

So far, Upperline’s renowned name and Creole recipes are not part of the Corporate Realty sale listing. Longtime proprietor JoAnn Clevenger told Fox 8 in an exclusive interview Sunday (May 29) that she remained protective of those more personal parts of the business, but that she would never say never if the right buyer came along.

Upperline didn’t get the farewell sendoff it deserved as one of the city’s premier fine dining destinations. Like many restaurants around the city, and across the nation, it ceased operations when the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020. Aside from a handful of private events, it never reopened.

“I didn’t think I was going to close it for good,” Clevenger admitted.

But Clevenger announced last November that she and her co-owners -- husband Alan Greenacre and son Jason Clevinger, who was the restaurant’s first chef -- had decided that re-opening Upperline would be too difficult as she turned 83 this year.

Owners of Upperline on Friday (May 27) listed the revered Creole restaurant's Uptown New...
Owners of Upperline on Friday (May 27) listed the revered Creole restaurant's Uptown New Orleans building, furnishings and equipment for sale at $1.725 million.(Corporate Realty)

Clevenger opened the restaurant with a single dining room in January 1983 and oversaw its expansion in both size and prominence. The restaurant became an Uptown New Orleans institution and a darling of national food critics. Clevenger was nominated seven times for the James Beard Foundation’s coveted national Outstanding Restaurateur award.

“What am I going to do without it?” she wondered. “Because it’s been my life.”

Along the way, Clevenger’s restaurant served Julia Child, Jeff Bezos, Rupert Murdoch, Joe Namath, Calvin Trillin, Drew Brees and a host of other celebrities, politicians and ordinary diners celebrating special occasions.

“All good things come to an end. And this was a hell of a ride for the city and for JoAnn,” said Corporate Realty president Michael Siegel, the property’s listing agent along with Scott Graf.

“Hopefully, somebody will step in and have another 40-year ride.”

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