By Haley Pegg, Loyola Student News Service
Owners of Mona’s Café on South Carrollton Avenue have turned the space over to family members who have decided that pizza is better served at that spot than falafels.
Nick Monem is the owner of Uptown Slice Pizza and Wings. Nicknamed “Uptown Slice,” the restaurant has replaced Mona’s Café, a Mediterranean restaurant owned by a relative of Monem’s. Mona’s at 1120 S. Carrollton Ave. was one of five locations of the café in New Orleans. The family members collaborated to replace one restaurant with another.
Oscar Garcia, Uptown Slice manager and chef, said the switch from Mona’s to Uptown Slice was in response to public demand.
“We saw that the area needed a place where people can come and have a quick meal. I think everybody likes pizza and wings,” Garcia said.
Uptown Slice opened on Dec. 6. The family-run business has six employees, all related to each other. According to Garcia, the idea for the restaurant had been in the works for eight months. The menu features pizza with fresh dough, wings with sauce, and sandwiches.
The restaurant has been renovated since closing down Mona’s. According to Garcia, his family changed the seating and reconstructed parts of the restaurant to create a more relaxed vibe.
“I love the food and I love the Lebanese tea we have here,” server Shelly Serna said. “The menu still has some of the same Mediterranean flavor as Mona’s that will attract people.” Serna is Garcia’s stepdaughter. She worked as a server at Mona’s and now has the same job at Uptown Slice.
Alex Le is a student at Loyola University New Orleans. He agreed with Garcia that the switch to a quicker-paced restaurant style was a good option.
“As a college student, we already have our own obligations. So if we’re trying to get something to eat, it’s usually something quick and convenient.”
Restaurant owners are looking to expand the business to more locations and hire additional help outside the family. Garcia said a delivery order and pickup system is also in the works.
While Uptown Slice employees are in good spirits, another company has addressed a concern with the restaurant’s name.
Slice Pizzeria is a well-known pizza restaurant in New Orleans, with its main location on Magazine Street and another on St. Charles Avenue. Despite similar names, the two companies are not related.
Le said he was confused by the name when he first passed by the restaurant.
“I thought it was a new Slice restaurant they were opening when I saw the big sign,” Le said. “I wouldn’t have thought it was a separate business.”
David Greengold, one of the owners of Slice, is unhappy that Uptown Slice is using a name so similar, especially because of the fact that Magazine Street’s Slice location is often nicknamed “Slice Uptown.” On the other hand, Greengold said he is not interested in hurting business for the new restaurant.
“I sincerely believe [Monem] didn’t mean to copy our name,” Greengold said. “I don’t want to deprive him of having a successful business.”
While Monem said he does not see a problem with his restaurant’s name or logo, he too said he did not intend to create any problems and planned to work out any issues that arise amicably.
The Loyola Student News Service features reporters from advanced-level journalism classes at Loyola University New Orleans, directed by faculty advisers.