The Sidewalk Side: St. Thomas Street in the Irish Channel

During Carnival, I stumble across a wonderful block in the Irish Channel, the 2800 block of St. Thomas Street. Although none of the nine houses on the block are painted purple, green and gold, they are so exuberantly colored they put me in the mood for a parade. Color, I discover, is just one of the elements that ties the block together. Take a look, for example, at the wide brick sidewalk, laid in a herringbone pattern.

King Cake Hub to ring in Carnival season at Zony Mash

King Cake Hub is back this year at Zony Mash Beer Project and will kick off the Carnival season season with a party and pageant. The seasonal pop-up is a one-stop shop for king cakes. Local bakeries send a daily supply, so that lovers of the Carnival confection, or anyone buying a king cake for their workplace, have myriad fresh choices in one place. King Cake Hub was founded in 2019 by Will and Jennifer Samuels. The couple got their first taste of the king cake business with their own king cake at their gelato shop La Dolce NOLA on Metairie Road in 2011. 

When Will died of esophageal cancer in September 2021, Jennifer knew she would continue King Cake Hub, as it was such an important part of the couple’s life together.

Bakery Bar’s new chef adds a Latin touch to the menu

The Bakery Bar in the Lower Garden District has a new chef, Lydia Solano, who was previously at the helm of Bacchanal’s kitchen. Chef Lydia will be introducing a new menu and, and the Bakery Bar will host a daily brunch. 

Growing up, Solano split her time between the United States and Costa Rica. After graduating from culinary school in Boston, she hitchhiked across the country, dropping into kitchens and learning skills on the job. “I worked everywhere from smokehouses to Japanese sushi spots,” she said. “I learned a broad aspect of cooking by stopping into different places and working where I could.”

Eight years ago, when she first visited New Orleans and began regularly spending time here, she started introducing Creole flavors into her cooking.

Return of Hubig’s Pie causes mad rush to South Carrollton

When word spread on Sunday (Nov. 6) that Hubig’s Pies was back after 10 years, the news was met with shouts of glee, followed by the sounds of locals running down sidewalks and cars racing across parish lines. The day before hitting the store shelves, Hubig’s Pies popped up in a South Carrollton Avenue parking lot. Tires across the city sped across potholes at axle-breaking speeds to reach the limited run of 7,000 pies before they were gone. Locals were racing down South Carrollton to the Hubig’s Pies pop-up at the Whitney Hancock Bank parking lot, as the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival drew crowds a block away. 

Gridlocked drivers shouted to passers-by, “Are there any pies left?”

Tulane opens the Anne Rice vaults for ‘Absolutely Unpredictable’ exhibition (with video)

Just in time for the annual celebration of the macabre, Tulane University Special Collections will open an exhibition of its Anne Rice collection on Thursday (Oct. 27). Absolutely Unpredictable: Anne Rice in the City of Transgression will display rare items and archival materials related to Rice and her works. The exhibition, free and open to the public, will be on display through Feb. 17, 2023, and will be celebrated with a costumes-optional reception on Thursday evening. 

The materials center on New Orleans cultural touchstones such as Carnival and the Southern Gothic genre.

Staff of life: Talking with Bellegarde Bakery’s new worker-owners

Bellegarde Bakery, named for what was possibly New Orleans’ first bakery (established in 1722), has joined the small but growing ranks of cooperatively owned and run businesses in New Orleans. The acclaimed bakery at 8300 Apple St. in Hollygrove was founded in 2012 by Graison Gill with a mission to produce high-quality naturally fermented breads made with flour milled in-house. After 10 years, Gill announced his intent to move to London to start a new bakery there. Rather than sell the New Orleans business, he and his team worked to orchestrate a transition to a worker-cooperative model.

Developers plan to turn Our Lady of Lourdes into a reception hall

Plans are in the works to turn the long-dormant Our Lady of Lourdes church on Napoleon Avenue into a reception hall and event venue. The project is in the early stages of development — so early that the developer named in a letter informing neighbors about the plans, Arts Design Hospitality + Development, is not registered with the state. “The LLC has not been formulated yet,” said Zach Smith, a land-use consultant working with the developers. “But eventually we have two individuals who will comprise that group.”

David Fusilier, a contractor with Perle Construction, and Doug Cloninger, director of Amicus Investment Holdings, plan to purchase and renovate the century-old building, listed at $1.25 million. The church anchors the uptown-lake corner of the square block bounded by Napoleon, La Salle, Jena and Freret.

Fine Arts Theater stages a comeback on Baronne Street corridor

A revival is taking place at a century-old movie house in the Milan neighborhood. 
When it began life in 1917, the Fine Arts Theater at Constantinople and Baronne streets anchored a small but thriving neighborhood business corridor. 
That was still true in 1946, when Dave Martin opened Martin Wine Cellar a block away. Nearby residents were within walking distance of nearly everything a family might need. There was a pharmacy, barber shop, laundry, tailor, meat market, grocery store and bakery — plus the neighborhood movie theater. Now the Fine Arts Theater building, a city landmark fresh off of a nearly $2 million redevelopment, holds the promise of revitalizing the small business district. 
Zee’s Pizzeria has moved into the Fine Arts building’s row of commercial spaces on Baronne. Beth Biundo Sweets, a bakery, is across the street, and Lucy Boone Ice Cream plans to open a shop next to Zee’s in the Fine Arts. And, of course, Martin Wine & Spirits continues to offer a deli as well as packaged adult beverages.

Lucy Boone Ice Cream pop-up to settle down in Milan area

Lucy Boone Ice Cream has been charming New Orleanians with its ice cream pop-up since 2020. Now, Lucy Boone is set to open their brick-and-mortar in the renovated Fine Arts Theater on Baronne Street at Constantinople. 

Lucy Boone is the chill creation of Abby Boone and her husband, Aaron Schnell, who named the business is named after their daughter Lucy. They serve handcrafted concoctions such as Cold Brew, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Key Lime Pie and Salted Butter Caramel. Abby said that she enjoys making ice cream flavors that remind her of her childhood, and she hopes that the flavors resonate with customers and offer a bit of nostalgia in the form of a tasty dessert. Abby grew up in Iowa and attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she specialized in pastries.