by Ian McNulty
Another Ruby Slipper Café is in the works downtown at 1005 Canal St., where co-owner Erich Weishaupt says he hopes to begin serving the local restaurant’s breakfast, lunch and brunch menus before the end of the year.
This Canal Street expansion will mark the fourth location for the Ruby Slipper, which Weishaupt and his wife Jennifer started in 2008 by converting what had been a rundown corner store into a neighborhood hot spot. They opened a second restaurant in the CBD in 2010 and late last year they added their third Ruby Slipper, this time in the Faubourg Marigny in a renovated historic bank branch.
"We didn't intend to grow this fast, we're about two years ahead of what we thought we'd do but the opportunity was right,” says Weishaupt. "So much is happening on this stretch of Canal we thought we should get ourselves established there."
All of the Ruby Slipper locations serve similar menus of diner-style breakfast and lunch dishes punched up with local seafood, fresh produce and some creative specials. Weishaupt says the Canal Street location will also function as a commissary kitchen producing some of the baked goods, sauces and other staples used across the different restaurants.
The new restaurant will be just five blocks from the Ruby Slipper location on Camp Street. But Weishaupt says that CBD restaurant draws most of its business from guests staying at nearby hotels and has kept so busy lately that long wait times for tables are common. He believes a second location will draw people staying at different hotels and perhaps take some pressure off the Camp Street restaurant at peak hours.
The Canal Street building has been home to a string of short-lived restaurants, most recently a diner concept called Duffy’s. But its Art Deco façade speaks to a much longer history. This address was part of the national McCrory’s department store chain, and in 1960 a group of black and white civil rights activists including Rudy Lombard, Lanny Goldfinch, Cecil Carter Jr. and Oretha Castle staged a sit-in at the store’s lunch counter (here’s the Times-Picayune’s look back at that event on its 50th anniversary). They were arrested, but their case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the convictions against them.
Today the building is a bit forlorn — some windows are boarded up, its exterior has been vandalized with spray paint and a few street vendors sell jewelry from card tables under its awning. Weishaupt says remodeling work for the restaurant will accentuate the building’s old Art Deco features, terrazzo floor and some structural elements they’re now uncovering from past renovations.
Ruby Slipper Café
2001 Burgundy St., 504-525-9355
200 Magazine St., 504-525-9355
139 S. Cortez St., 504-309-5531
1005 Canal St., phone n.a.