COURTESY GOOD WORK NETWORK
Roux Carre: The Food Port of New Orleans opens Nov. 27 on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.
Central City’s food port Roux Carré opens Nov. 27.
The brightly colored collection of multi-ethnic vendor stalls sits on the corner of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and St. Andrew Street, the latest in a series of restaurants and businesses to open on the burgeoning Central City strip.
Construction on the Good Work Network project has been underway for a year; the non-profit worked with funds from federal grants, private funding and fundraising through an indiegogo campaign.
Good Work Network executive directorPhyllis Cassidy says the space is meant to help smaller businesses get on their feet and master necessary skills before possibly branching out on their own. The local nonprofit works with small businesses, especially women and minority-run enterprises, helping them with business strategy and implementation.
Each vendor has a 175-square-foot “pod” to set up its operation, and a retractable window opens into the space from where they can sell their food. A large, industrial-size communal kitchen includes ovens, a flat grill, stoves and prep space and storage.
By getting low-cost and low-overhead entry, aspiring restaurant owners are able to build a following for their food while receiving training in food service, retailing, accounting and payroll. There is no limit to how long a vendor may stay at the location, although Cassidy suspects most want to take off on their own eventually.
“It’s really an incubator for these small businesses,” Cassidy says. “They’re all really good cooks; we want them to learn how to really run a restaurant, so, if they want, they can leave here and do that.”
Diners can expect a menu strong on Caribbean, Latin and Southern flavors from the five vendors, a diverse crop of local cooks and entrepreneurs.
There’s Miriam Rodriguez, the “Pupusa Lady” who emigrated from Honduras and has worked in kitchens across town, including those of Adolfo Garcia, who recommended her for the food port. Rodriguez will sell her pupusas – fried corn cakes stuffed with cheese and grilled meats — as well as ceviche and quesadillas.
Clinton Haughton, of Johnny’s Jamaican Grill, is a Frenchmen Street fixture who runs a food truck outside Cafe Negril most weekend nights. Haughton will sell Caribbean and Jamaican specialties, including jerk chicken, chicken and dumplings and, on occasion, stewed oxtail.
For Splendid Pig
proprietors Jen and Brandon Blackwell, it’s a chance to build out their pop-up concept focusing on local and Southern-inspired cuisine, including cochon de lait po-boys and crab and andouille cakes.
Estralita Soniat, who runs the restaurant Estralita’s Cafe in Westwego, will sell red beans and rice, gumbo and roast beef po-boys, among a few other items from her spinoff
Central City’s own Youth Empowerment Project will be selling healthy snowballs from its stand The Juice Box, as well as homemade snacks and teas.
“Everyone will have a vegetarian option on the menu,” Cassidy says. “Everyone will offer a very affordable item on their menu, something small, for around $3.” Most dishes hover around the $8 to $10 mark.
Covered outdoor seating includes a space for cooking demonstrations and performances and a 75-inch television will be available for New Orleans Saints and LSU games, as well as occasional movie nights.
The nonprofit group is hosting an artist in residence program, and hopes to have a rotating set of artists perform on a regular basis.
"Ideally, we'd love to have activities here every night," Cassidy says.
Roux Carre opens Nov. 27 and hosts a Bayou Classic viewing party Nov. 28. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday from and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.