Hey! Café got its start as a tiny coffee shop on Magazine Street before moving to the Lafitte Greenway. Now it is adding a second location in the Broadmoor neighborhood.
Co-owner Tommy LeBlanc, who has a cartoon and animation background, transitioned into the coffee business after he was laid off in 2009, when the company he worked for changed hands.
He and co-owner Greg Rodrigue opened the Hey! Café in the Magazine Street spot that was once home to Magazine Perks.
“We loved being there,” LeBlanc said. “We loved our neighbors and the space.”
LeBlanc and Rodrigue began exploring other options after that building, between Ms. Mae’s and the Uptown Costume & Dancewear, was sold. The shift brought them to a take-out window at Tipitina’s, where they served the brew that the neighborhood had grown to love.
“We had an opportunity to support our friends at Tipitina’s, so that was a no-brainer for us,” LeBlanc said. “We knew that we could operate the business in a small space. We knew that we wanted to support another important business while we let our passion thrive, so it was a perfect fit. It was mutually beneficial — and I will always fondly remember that time.”
When Tipitina’s was able to resume their music schedule, Hey! Café expanded its hours at its location on the Lafitte Greenway, at 2606 St. Louis St., which opened in 2018.
“During Covid, interest increased in the Greenway by a lot,” LeBlanc explained. “It’s a recreational destination in the city, and it’s getting better all the time.” Flour Moon Bagels will soon open next to the coffee shop.
As for the new location, LeBlanc isn’t quite ready to reveal the exact address but says it will be near Napoleon Avenue and South Claiborne in a building that formerly housed a barbershop and a grocery store, among other things.
“The building is old and historic and I’ve always been fascinated by it,” LaBlanc said. “I just feel like it has Hey! Café written all over it. It’s going to be a bigger space for us, and we can’t wait to welcome people in.”
LeBlanc said he hopes to have the new location, which is undergoing a complete build-out, open within the next three or four months.
The space is being renovated to withstand the flooding that plagues the area. LeBlanc wants to set an example of how buildings can be built to be more resilient against stormwater.
The new café will have waterproof finishes and baseboards and trim that’s impervious to water. The baseboard and trim can be removed to allow for air drying, and the building’s insulation can also be air dried.
Because the building is historic, LeBlanc is using building materials that will preserve the historical integrity as well as the resilience.
The new location will be in LeBlanc’s own neighborhood, and he said that he’s looking forward to being able to walk to work, as he did when he owned the location on Magazine Street.
“We look forward to seeing some of our regulars in Broadmoor,” he said. “I know that a lot of them live in the neighborhood.”