Popular French Quarter eatery Saint John is closed after owner Eric Cook says his business was given a $40,000 bill from Entergy. He says the bill comes from a meter he didn’t know existed, despite him paying over $2,000 a month to the company for energy costs.
“To bear that kind of financial burden? It’s impossible. It’s impossible. We live like everyone else does. You know, if it’s Bob’s hardware store and he makes a living selling hammers, I’m Eric’s restaurant store, and I make a living selling oysters,” said Cook.
Cook says he was presented with the bill a few months ago but refused to pay as he believes the bill was bogus. He says after weeks of phone calls with Entergy, the company turned off the power to the restaurant.
Cook penned a letter on Facebook Thursday announcing the news and making multiple claims about the company and the city of New Orleans.
Entergy New Orleans responded to the claims by Cook in a statement, saying:
“Entergy New Orleans’ goal is always to work with customers to achieve the shared goal of continued service. In this case, the New Orleans City Council’s CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS prohibits Entergy New Orleans from disclosing specific information about an individual customer’s bill without the permission of that customer.
“In light of the press release from Saint John’s PR firm this afternoon and statements posted on social media, we reached out to the customer to request permission to discuss their account. Restaurant ownership has not responded.
“Given those constraints, we are unable to respond to statements made in connection with this account. We can say that prior to any disconnect, our team will visit a site to confirm the meter reading and location. Standard procedure was followed in this instance.
“We would be happy to restore service immediately once we speak with the customer and agree on a payment plan option that they can afford.”
Cook claims there was no payment plan he could afford and refused to pay anyway.
“When you try and say, ‘OK, we’ll get on a payment plan and do this,’ you’re talking about $40,000. You’re talking about $5,000 a month to your bills,” said Cook.
Cook says he will continue to operate his Magazine Street business, Gris Gris, going into the future but wants to see changes in the city.
“We all need people to come visit us and see this great city and make sure it remains one of the greatest cities in the world, because it is and I’ll always believe that, but let’s make some real change,” said Cook.
Cook also says he has worked with other restaurant owners in the city to try and find new jobs for his former employees.