Ian Mcnulty / The New Orleans Advocate

METAIRIE, La. -- Yes Virginia, there still is a place to get bargain steaks in Fat City, and to some ears the tale of why that's so may sound like a Christmas wish come true.

Last fall, management at Crazy Johnnie's Steak House (3520 18th St., Metairie, 504-887-6641; began telling their regulars that they would soon close after 28 years in business. They didn't specify a date, but anticipated the last day would be sometime in November.

The decision sounded reasonable enough. At age 72, founder Johnnie Schram was ready to retire. Business had been declining for years and with prices for beef rising sharply it seemed the restaurant's business model of luring customers with filet mignon and prime rib barely above cost had run its course. The customer response, however, was less than sanguine.

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