At the corner of Leonidas and Spruce sits the Community Commitment Education Center, a public space for neighborhood engagement, summer programs for children, and now a plant-based restaurant. Formerly Stella’s Coffee House, the kitchen space at 1923 Leonidas St. is now officially home to NOLA Vegan Café, which opens today, Oct. 1.
The café is the work of Uptown’s Sonya Brown, a social worker and chef known for her vegan popups. Earlier this year, she met Nicole Bouie, CEO and director of the center, who also has a social work background.
“I’ve been working with kids that age out of the foster care system,” Brown explained. “Nicole and I discussed my business vision of opening this cafe and offering job opportunities to those kids. It was a natural fit because she worked in the foster care system for years, and we just bonded around that.”
The plan came together fast, Brown said. Someone attended one of her popups and suggested she meet Bouie. Brown stopped by the center and ended up talking with Bouie for hours. Less than four months later, Brown’s dream of running her own café became real.
“I am honored that Sonya has chosen to begin her journey within the Community Commitment Education Center,” Bouie said. “Her presence only strengthens our mission to support the youth of our community and our new initiative to become a supportive partner for black-owned women businesses.”
NOLA Vegan Café offers diverse vegan fare, including BBQ veggie burgers, coconut bread pudding, chocolate milkshakes, and even vegan chicken and waffles. Everything served follows vegan standards — no meat or animal products — as a way to provide healthy yet tasty cuisine to the Carrollton area.
“Communities like this don’t always have access to healthier, more sustainable food options, so I wanted to bring it to the community,” said Brown. “I grew up Uptown. I’m an Uptown girl from New Orleans, born and raised, so it was natural that I bring that food back to the community I was raised in.”
Though the café will be her full-time commitment, Brown will continue her social work through her nonprofit Project 18, which helps former foster care youth successfully transition into adulthood.
“I just transition from being a full time social worker to following my dream of opening a cafe and helping foster kids in a different way,” she said.
NOLA Vegan Café celebrates its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. Find the full menu, order online and more at geauxnolavegan.com.
The Community Commitment Education Center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
NOLA Vegan Café
1923 Leonidas St
Open Tuesday thru Friday
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.