As Todd Price noted today on NOLA.com, the former employees of now-closed Stella! are organizing a pop-up benefit dinner on Tuesday, July 1st at Three Muses starting at 6 p.m. The abrupt closing of Chef Scott Boswell's high-end French Quarter restaurant caught many employees by surprise, not the least of which was the kitchen staff. While a bankruptcy filing will keep Stella! employees from receiving their last paycheck for months, Blanche'd! aims help employees as they transition to find new jobs.
As Price mentions, most of the food and alcohol have been donated and Three Muses generously provided the space for free (they're normally closed on Tuesdays). Not mentioned in Price's article, however, is just how remarkable it is that the benefit is happening in the first place and how it stands in stark contrast to Boswell's abandoned efforts for a $200-per-plate fundraiser.
Former Stella! waiter Jonathan Sanders said that if it wasn't for the the fact that the kitchen and front-of-house crew were together for so long, it may have been much harder to get things organized. As it stands, things have come together well enough that there are whispers of possibly making Blanche'd! a recurring pop-up restaurant depending on the success of the first event.
So far, Sanders said the Blanche'd! benefit has received a lot of positive support from friends and family of the former Stella! workers but that they're hoping to get the general public involved. Sanders said that he and his former co-workers are hoping to bring a casual version of Stella! to people who may not have been able to afford the former restaurant's extravagant prices. They're also looking to stay positive and have a bit of fun.
"We've thrown around the idea of taking our old Stella! uniforms and cutting holes in them, ripping our aprons and cutting our ties in half," Sanders said. "We just want people to have a good time."
In that spirit, Blanche'd! will operate like a tapas bar with no plates over $10 with octopus paella, oxtail poboys and deviled eggs tentatively scheduled for the menu. While DJ Brice Nice and the Kentucky Sisters are slated to provide entertainment, Sanders said they're still building a music lineup and hope to have several acts play throughout the night.
Though Blanche'd has received enough food donations for the event, Sanders said anyone looking to donate food, alcohol or their time can do so by getting in touch with the event coordinators through their Facebook page.