Co-owners Lisa Livermore, left, and Staci Tucci at their restaurant Bayou Jones...

Co-owners Lisa Livermore, left, and Staci Tucci at their restaurant Bayou Jones in Merrick in September 2019. Credit: Daniel Brennan

When Lisa Livermore opened Bayou Jones in Merrick last April, it was, she hoped, the next chapter of her culinary journey. It proved to be the end of the road: The restaurant served its last meal on Aug. 2.

Livermore had been the owner of Long Island’s oldest Cajun restaurant, North Bellmore’s The Bayou, when it closed in 2018. The decision to take over the R.S. Jones space in Merrick when its owners retired in 2019 seemed like a master stroke: R.S. Jones had been founded in 1993 by two former Bayou employees and the two Cajun restaurants shared a rollicking vibe and a number of customers. (The Bayou, founded in 1986, was also the wellspring of Big Daddy’s in Massapequa. Read about these restaurants’ shared history here.)

Livermore and her partner, Staci Tucci, got off to a rousing start in Merrick, but COVID-19 hit them hard. “We tried doing takeout,” she said, “but it wasn’t paying the bills.” When New York State declared that outdoor dining was permissible, the two women began making plans for their sidewalk and backyard. On July 22, they reopened both outdoor and indoor and things began looking up. For a few days. Tropical Storm Isaias left the restaurant without power for close to a week. “We were fully stocked,” Livermore said, “and we lost everything — inventory and cooked food.”

“It wasn’t just the money,” she continued, “it was the emotional toll. How to go forward in this environment where your business can change at any moment.”

For now, she is going to “to try to relax and take stock” before thinking about her next move. “The restaurant industry is on its knees,” she said, “but this is a creative community, always thinking of new ways to make things better, more efficient. It’s exciting to think that something great will come out of all of this.”

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