Among the many projects pushing for completion before Super Bowl XLVII is Cafe Reconcile (1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-568-1157; www.reconcileneworleans.org), the nonprofit restaurant and training program in Central City. Director of development David Emond is confident the organization will be ready to reopen the cafe by the end of January. The cafe will retain its neighborhood feel, he says, blending updated decor 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," Emond says. "And it will look a lot more like the kitchens they'll be working in once they get out in the world."
Initially, it will offer a familiar menu — including white beans and shrimp, a long-running Thursday special — but Emond says more complex specials will be added as the cafe gets rolling. The space will be much larger, increasing from 80 seats to 110 inside, plus another 50 in new outdoor dining areas.
The cafe is the first and most prominent phase of a redevelopment of Cafe Reconcile's five-story building, a former 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, which will offer programs from tutoring to financial literacy and the Shell Business Accelerator Center.
Founded in 2000, Cafe Reconcile is open to the public as a breakfast and lunch spot while helping at-risk youth with mentoring, job training in the hospitality industry and job placement assistance in restaurants and hotels around the city.