Dwayne Boudreaux began working at Circle Food Store in 1987 and bought the store in 1995. Earlier this year, he reopened Circle Food Store, which had been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures in 2005.
"We definitely have less business activity than we had before Katrina. There were a lot of little businesses in Treme, and a lot of those businesses were operating through the Circle Food Store. There were little restaurants that purchased a lot of their groceries here, and there were businesses where, because of the lack of traffic around the store, weren't able to reopen their businesses in this area. Now that we've come back, those companies are gone. They weren't able to survive the length of time it took Circle Food Store to reopen.
"I've noticed now that since we've opened, there's been a new generation of businesses and business owners and people are taking care of their property a little more.
"The biggest thing I've noticed is the transition of people. The neighborhood has changed. Before the hurricane, we might have had 1 percent Latino population in this area. I would estimate that we have maybe 10 to 15 percent now. Also, there's a lot more people coming in from around the country and from different areas of the world. I just talked to a lady this morning that's from Belize. We have customers from Canada, Seattle, Trinidad and Russia.
"What has happened is, we've had to adjust to the type of customers we have. I opened up with the belief that my customer base would be similar to what it was prior to Katrina, but it's really changed. We now have an imported cheese section that I couldn't really sell before Katrina. We have a Latino section now that's doing pretty well because of the increase in our neighborhood's Latino population." — As told to Nia Porter
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