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Jyl Benson and Sam Hanna
Pelicans v. Pistons
Bourbon Street Dive Johnny White's to Close at End of June
by Mary-Devon Dupuy
It’s hard to find a local on Bourbon St., at least one that isn’t on the job. The majority of the time, natives leave the hand grenades, t-shirt shops, and strip clubs for the tourists. But one corner watering hole bar sets itself apart as “the bar that never closes,” and NoDef is sad to report that Johnny White’s Sports Bar is losing that title after 22 years in its current location. On June 30, the bar will shut its doors. There may even be a lock involved.
In a city where dive bars seem to be in a race to the bottom, Johnny White's stands out even among the crowded field. Full of dust and in possession of one of the most rickety staircases this side of a horror film, the bar wears its years proudly. Located at 720 Bourbon Street, it's a local's bar that sits in the middle of a tourist strip where everyone else is trying to pack 'em in. The space is simple and seats no more than a dozen, without any of the glitzy Bourbon Street decorations or neon signs outside. There are Mardi Gras beads hanging from the doors, but what else would they use to lock the doors?
The 24/7 watering hole gained a place in the national media in the wake of Katrina, when the bar became a safe haven for those who stayed in the area for the storm. Without the locks on the doors and safe on the original high ground, patrons and employees kept the bar open throughout Katrina despite the lack of water or electricity.
JD Landrum said the owners of the building have decided not to renew his lease. The long time owner says he’s “not bitter about it.”
“It was a good 22 year run. I tried to extend it for another five years, mostly for the employees,” JD said.
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