Central City's food port Roux Carre (2000 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., www.rouxcarre.com) opens Nov. 27. The brightly colored collection of vendor stalls is the latest in a series of restaurants and businesses to open on the burgeoning Central City strip.
Construction on the Good Work Network (www.goodworknetwork.org) project has been underway for a year. The nonprofit worked with funds from federal grants, private funding and fundraising through an crowdfunding website.
Good Work Network executive director Phyllis 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. An 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 Roux Carre.
Diners will find Caribbean, Latin and Southern flavors among the dishes offered by the five vendors.
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 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 (606 Frenchmen St.; www.cafenegrilonfrenchmen.com) most weekend nights. Haughton will sell Caribbean and Jamaican specialties, including jerk chicken, chicken and dumplings and, on occasion, stewed oxtail.
For Jennifer and Brandon Blackwell, proprietors of Splendid Pig (www.splendidpig.com) 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 (1022 Westbank Expressway, Westwego, 504-340-8517; www.estralitas.com) in Westwego, will sell red beans and rice, gumbo and roast beef po-boys, among a few other items from her spinoff Estralita's Express.
Central City's own Youth Empowerment Project (www.youthempowermentproject.org) will sell 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.
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 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.