Church Alley Cafe & Grocery, already ranked one of New Orleans’ top coffee shops by Eater Nola, is growing in its beloved Canal Street space. The Mid-City cafe is now offering an array of retail items alongside its classic hand brew, cold brew, espresso drinks, teas and menu of creative sandwiches, pastries, salads, snacks and six-pack growlers of cold brew.
Church Alley started like many businesses, as a home-grown pursuit to bring something great to the community. Owner Renee Blanchard, a Lafayette native, knew she had created something special bringing her handcrafted beverages to New Orleans. The evolution from Church Alley Coffee Bar to Church Alley Cafe & Grocery was the next step.
Having a spirit of serving and a goal to put a smile on people’s faces, Blanchard opened her first Church Alley on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard before moving the coffee bar to its current home at Canal St. and N. Solomon. Now established in Mid-City, Church Alley, named for the New Iberia street where generations of her family had small businesses, is in its next phase of growth.
With a focus on locally made goods, Church Alley now features a variety of high-quality hand-crafted products from all over Louisiana. Giving the community access to local vendors is the goal for Church Alley. “Small businesses are the engine,” Blanchard said. The Cafe now provides a redesigned space to showcase other home-grown brands.
“We started bringing in more local food items from small businesses during the pandemic as a way to keep as many folks in business as possible. Expanding the cafe to include grocery items was the natural next step,” Blanchard said. It brings a new local option to the community for healthy products and kitchen staples.
“We are a people-first, mission-driven small business,” she noted. To support other small businesses, hit especially hard in the pandemic, she began offering handmade items such as greeting cards, key chains and dog bowls alongside the jams, and local honey.
Blanchard has a long history of helping people: she’s worked with Greenpeace and the Children’s Defense Fund, and served as a community organizer for the Waterkeeper Alliance.
It’s been a challenge for businesses to survive during the pandemic, she said, and that challenge was faced head-on by the growing cafe and grocery. Adapting to the changing atmosphere while battling environmental hardships forced Blanchard to be resourceful. Her inclination toward serving others has helped her business to thrive as well.
“We are how this city survives,” she said of small businesses. “We have to work together. Your business is not going to survive if you’re not in partnership with other businesses.”
While operating Church Alley, Blanchard is studying to be a dietitian, bringing fresh ideas and mindful options to her customers. Her inspiration to study nutrition came from her own experience in coping with chronic pain. “I was able to make very small changes to my diet,” she said, “and it made a huge difference in my quality of life.”
Providing culinary creations that go a step further to help community members is the future for Church Alley, including ingredients that are proven to promote overall well-being.
“I have no business if my customers and community aren’t happy, healthy and economically stable,” Blanchard said. “And so we have to have a part in creating that and enabling that.”
The newest tea refreshment is the Izu Green Matcha. Whether it’s iced or hot, the green tea goodness is there with every sip; featuring iced rosewater, this healthy option adds a new take on a classic choice.
Inspired by Middle Eastern flavors and techniques, Church Alley is introducing a new coffee experience to New Orleans. One of the most exciting additions to the refreshed beverage menu is definitely the iced Lebanese coffee. Bringing the thriving coffee culture of Beirut to the Big Easy, the iced Lebanese coffee features refreshing orange blossom and sparkling water, to create a uniquely delicious treat for your tastebuds.
“Creating that sense of the larger community through the range of products in the store” is the cornerstone of the Cafe & Grocery, said Blanchard. “We want to show that positivity is a part of this small space. Make life a little better with every cup!”
Church Alley Cafe & Grocery, she said, is incredibly grateful to the community who continues coming out during Covid to support the shop, and she is committed to supporting the local community, offering bright healthy options and sharing a smile one cup at a time.
“Everyone is accepted here,” she said. “Come as you are and not as perfect. You can sit and not talk, or you can engage and sit next to us and talk to us all day.”
Church Alley also ships most products across the U.S. To shop online, show support, or keep up with Church Alley Cafe & Grocery, visit www.churchalley.store or find Church Alley on Instagram @ChurchAlley. Vendors who are interested in showcasing their products can reach out via instagram for more information.
Thank you for supporting Church Alley Cafe & Grocery. We are here to empower a more peaceful Louisiana and Gulf Coast. Our values have always been and will always be to nourish, empower, and serve.
Church Alley Cafe & Grocery
4201 Canal St.
Open every day 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.