An older man with long, wavy, gray hair and bangs smiles at the camera. He has glasses and a gray goatee. He is holding a tray of dipping sauces in his left hand and sitting at a table with a seafood boil in an aluminum tray.
Chef Henry Chandler of Henry's Louisiana Grill showing off a seafood boil. (Courtesy of Henry Chandler's Facebook page)

From learning Cajun cooking from his nanny as a child in Louisiana to attending culinary school in London, Henry Chandler brought his love for cooking to Acworth, Georgia 24 years ago.  

As owner of Henry’s Louisiana Grill, Chandler revealed his restaurant will change ownership by the end of 2024 when he retires.  

Chandler announced on Facebook that the restaurant will be sold to new owners, but he will still come back to the restaurant as a consultant. While the announcement may be bittersweet for his customers, Chandler said he is excited to finally relax after so many years of hard work and has several retirement plans.

“Travel, hunt, fish, see some sunsets. Come back as a guest one day,” Chandler said. “It’s going to be nice to not have to turn and burn, you know, 60-70 hours a week.” 

While Chandler said he will still be involved with the restaurant until the end of year in order to ensure a smooth transition, the announcement has left many customers shocked. 

“I take it personally, you know, it’s part of my culture,” said Danielle Theodore, a regular at the restaurant. 

Theodore grew up in Louisiana and fell in love with the restaurant because it reminded her of home. 

“So I was nervous,” said Theodore. “Because I wanted to stay the same. I wanted it to stay authentic because that’s what it is and I’m sure it will remain that way.” 

Henry’s Louisiana Grill is known for its flavorful food and has been a staple in Acworth since it opened in 2000. Chandler said downtown Acworth was almost empty when he first opened the restaurant 24 years ago. 

“When we started here, there was absolutely nothing downtown,” he said. “There was a dentist, a doctor and a funeral home, that’s it.”

For the past 24 years, the restaurant served Southern, Cajun and fusion-inspired entrees. For example, the Fish Taco Wrap adds tangy remoulade, a sauce originating in France, on a fish taco wrap with spicy coleslaw. 

Chandler features a “Chef’s Special” menu with new dishes every day. For example, the Pepper Jacked Up Shrimp is a cheesy and spicy appetizer not featured on the main menu.  

Creative dishes like these kept guests coming back, giving them something new to always look forward to. 

The restaurant gained several accolades and media attention over the years, including winning the People’s Platelist Award and country’s best local chef in 2010. In 2017, Henry’s Louisiana Grill was featured on Food Network’s “Ginormous Food” show, where Chandler made a 9 foot long po’boy sandwich.  

Chandler believes the restaurant flourished with the help of the community. 

“The community has supported us from day one,” he said. “My friends helped us start the restaurant, and of course, my wife Claudia was instrumental in getting the restaurant off the ground. I mean, it was a labor of love. A lot of people scraped walls and cleaned. The city of Acworth has supported us from the beginning.” 

Kim Wigington, another regular at the restaurant, has lived across the street from Chandler and his family for 20 years, and the two are close friends. 

“He revitalized Main Street,” Wigington said. “Once this restaurant opened, it was a teeny-tiny restaurant, but the food was so good that people came back. There would be a long wait, so there were shops that would open around the restaurant, or [started] opening later because people needed something to do while they were waiting to get in. It really just gave people a reason to come to downtown Acworth.” 

Chandler believes it is “warm, gracious Southern hospitality” that keeps customers coming back to the restaurant. 

“That’s what they get every time they walk in the door,” Chandler said. “Plus, we have a passion to serve people. Our staff is always here to greet them and they’re always nice. Some of them have been here for 23 years, so our staff plays a very important role in getting those people back.” 

Despite Chandler’s retirement, both Theodore and Wigington plan to continue visiting the restaurant for years to come. 

“It’s nice to walk in and for the bartender to know your name, for the servers to know who you are,” Theodore said. “It’s being comfortable, that is the reason why I come back.”

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