The Old Coffee Pot restaurant that abruptly closed in February has reopened, but this time under a slightly different name.
The restaurant, now renamed Cafe Beignet at the Old Coffee Pot, reopened at 714 St. Peter St. It was the location the previous restaurant before it was acquired and renamed.
According to nola.com, the new restaurant is now a part of the same company that has three other locations nearby.
The Old Coffee Pot was open for more than a century before it closed. The restaurant was a popular breakfast spot for bartenders, barbacks, and other service industry workers coming off the third shift—or for those who finished the second shift and stumbled into the place after several hours of drinking at Johnny White’s Bar across the street, or elsewhere.
Before it closed, the restaurant appeared on an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s reality TV show, “24 Hours to Hell and Back,” in which he scolded the staff for finding a dead mouse in a toaster.
The new restaurant’s menu includes crawfish omelettes, beignets, gumbo and calas.
Calas are a fritter similar to a beignet but made with rice. They’re sometimes described as a dumpling, a rice pastry, or cake. They’re believed to have their origins from the rice-growing regions of Western Africa and were brought to Louisiana by slaves.
Recipes vary, but typically calas are made by mixing rice with sugar, some flour and eggs, deep-frying them, and topping them with confectioners sugar. They were a specialty at the Old Coffee Pot for decades, but have been a part of New Orleans for centuries.
According to Poppy Tooker on NPR, calas vendors were a common sight on the streets of New Orleans, particularly the French Quarter. African-American slaves who sold calas used the money to buy their freedom.
Calas vendors weren’t restricted to only slaves, though. Selling them were part of the income for many families.
In her 1995 article published in Louisiana History journal titled “Lost Boundaries”: Racial Passing and Poverty in Segregated New Orleans,” author Arthé Anthony wrote:
“Lottery sellers, praline and calas vendors, seamstresses, pieceworkers, and laundresses who worked at home are examples of teh various forms of work that were available to poor colored women who were married.”
Other menu items include pecan waffles, Cajun hashbrowns, and sandwiches such as muffalettas and roast beef po-boys.
Cafe Beignet at the Old Coffee Pot, located at 714 St. Peter St. is open daily from 8 a.m to 10 p.m.