by Ian McNulty
Among the many projects pushing for completion in time for Super Bowl XLVII is Café Reconcile, the nonprofit restaurant and education program in Central City.
A major expansion and renovation has been underway here for some time, and director of development David Emond is confident the group will be ready to unveil its new café by the end of January.
The café will retain its neighborhood feel, he says, blending updated décor with the homespun artwork that has always decorated the walls. The big change will be in the kitchen.
“We’ll have a state of the art kitchen that is finally worthy of our students,” he says. “And it will look a lot more like the kitchens they’ll be working in once they get out in the world.”
The menu will stay much the same initially — the white beans and shrimp, a long-running Thursday special, will be back — though Emond says more complex specials will be worked in as the café gets rolling again. The café will also be much larger, increasing from 80 seats to 110 inside and another 50 or in new outdoor dining areas, including a courtyard.
The café is a first and most prominent phase of a thorough redevelopment of Café Reconcile’s five-story building, a one-time furniture store. The second floor will become a reception hall, named the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Hospitality Center after its chief benefactor. The upper levels will house a Family Learning Center, with programs from tutoring to financial literacy, the Shell Business Accelerator Center and offices for the Café Reconcile program.
Founded in 2000, Café Reconcile serves meals to the public while serving a higher goal of helping at-risk youth turn their lives around with mentoring, marketable job training in the hospitality industry and job placement assistance in restaurants and hotels around the city.
1631 O.C. Haley Blvd., 504-568-1157