by Ian McNulty
For more than 12 years, Café Reconcile has offered young people a chance to transform their life prospects through its jobs skills training and mentoring programs. More recently, the Central City nonprofit restaurant has undergone its own transformation.
A major expansion and renovation has been underway here for some time, and today, March 11, the café part of the Café Reconcile operation reopens, resuming lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The dining room has been thoroughly redesigned, and it’s much larger than before. There’s also now a courtyard for outdoor meals. The menu of hearty and inexpensive New Orleans classics has stayed much the same (the long-running special of white beans and shrimp will be back on Thursdays, for instance) and more complex dishes will be worked in as the café gets rolling again.
Director of development David Emond says some of the biggest changes are behind the scenes, including “a state of the art kitchen that is finally worthy of our students.”
“It looks a lot more like the kitchens they’ll be working in once they get out in the world,” he says.
More is in the works here. By the summer, the café’s hours will expand to include breakfast while by the end of the year, Emond says, weekend dinners and Sunday gospel brunch should join the schedule.
The café is just one part of a top-to-bottom 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. Emond says that hall is expected to make its debut on March 22. An upper level now houses Café Reconcile’s new Family Learning Center, sponsored by Shell, with programs from tutoring to financial literacy, while offices and leased space occupies other parts of the building.
1631 O.C. Haley Blvd., (504) 568-1157