Kevin Greenaae’s love of beer and brewing is obvious. When I met him at his new brewery, Oak St Brewery, 8201 Oak St., he regaled me with the story about how he found himself in New Orleans brewing beer in the middle of a pandemic. Greenaae hails from the Midwest and spent the past 28 years working in the maritime industry. He and his wife, Dana Fos, were living and working in Seattle when Fos, a New Orleans native, told Greenaae she was ready to move back home to New Orleans. Greenaae, who has been brewing beer for 30 years, thought that now was as good a time as any to retire and focus on his passion for brewing.
“I was 50 years old and I retired,” Greenaae said.
14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant is settling nicely into its latest location at 8227 Oak St. Chef Charles Blake and Lauren Johnson Blake, a husband-and-wife team, have been serving up traditional Jamaican food out of the Pythian Market on Loyola Avenue since May 2018. While that location caters mostly to a lunch crowd, the Oak Street location is hoping to find its way into New Orleanians’ dinner plans. Charles, who hails from Spanish Town, Jamaica, has a passion for food and has been cooking his entire life. He and Lauren, a New Orleans native, met in Atlanta, where she also fell in love with his cooking.
The once bare white walls of a South Carrollton Avenue storefront are now highlighted by bottles of red, white, rose and sparkling wines from France, the U.S., Spain and Italy, along with some select local and global spirits. If those walls could talk, they would tell of the journey Vino Wine and Spirits took, including delays due to COVID-19 pandemic regulations and the cyber attack on City Hall, as they were navigating the already arduous permitting process. Then there was the card reader that wasn’t going to arrive in time for the opening, and then when it did, it was in pieces to be assembled. The good news is that a new chapter began the last week of June, when Vino Wine and Spirits welcomed its first customers, card reader be damned. Vino Wine and Spirits is the realization of a dream of Allyson and Milton Hernandez.
Along Oak Street, from Carrollton Avenue to the river, the toll of the coronavirus pandemic is clear: at least 13 stores and restaurants have signs announcing their storefronts are closed due to the virus. But for the businesses that have held on so far, the initial panic has worn off, and there’s hope that they’ll make it to the other end of this crisis. “I’ve learned you’ve just got to adapt. You’ve got to be so flexible,” said Chamain O’Mahony, co-owner of the bakery Breads On Oak. O’Mahony had to shut down her bakery’s downtown location, as foot traffic there has essentially disappeared, but she’s still doing take-out Thursday through Sunday on Oak Street.
The economic effects of coronavirus reverberated across New Orleans on Monday, with local store owners describing feelings of bewilderment and anxiety as they considered how the virus would affect their bottom line. While some are cautiously optimistic, others have despaired of being able to keep their business alive through the pandemic. “If it lasts for months, then most people won’t survive,” said Bettye Barrios, owner of the home goods store Aux Belles Choses on Magazine Street. “We’ve been here 29 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Just one customer entered Barrios’ shop on Monday. She sells linens, soaps, and gifts, many imported from France and England, but she had to cancel an upcoming business trip to Europe.
By Sue Strachan, Uptown Messenger
For Allyson and Milton Hernandez, the dream of opening a wine shop just off Oak Street started fermenting back in June. “We live in the neighborhood and didn’t see anything like it,” said Milton Hernandez, with Allyson Hernandez adding: “We thought ‘why not us.’”
Their business, Vino Wine and Spirits, is tentatively scheduled to open at 1124 S. Carrollton Ave. in March 2020 if a zoning change and permits are approved. A City Planning Commission hearing, scheduled on Jan. 14, is for a specific zoning request for a conditional use to permit the retail sale of packaged alcoholic beverages, according to the business’s land-use application.
The 13th annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, with more than 60 variations of New Orleans’ signature sandwich, will take over the Oak Street business corridor from Carrollton Avenue to the river on Sunday, which is National Sandwich Day. Festivities open at 10 a.m. with a second-line starting at Oak Street and Eagle and featuring the Merry Antoinettes, the Krewe of Condiments and the celebrity judges, including food writers Ian McNulty and Kim Ranjbar; local broadcast journalists Bruce Katz, Chris Franklin and Carla Pesono; football podcaster Marlin “Big Fav” Favorite; Saints superfan Leroy “Whistle Monster” Mitchell; actor Bryan Batt; and chef Bill Laderer. Live local music on four stages provides a sound track for the festival from start to finish and, on the Maple Leaf stage, beyond. Acts include Soul Project, Blind Texas Marlin, Dave Jordan and the NIA, the Lamont Landers Band, Roadside Glorious, John Mooney and Funky Monkey with Arsene DeLay. This year’s art market will feature 19 local jewelers, painters and crafts.
The Jamie Galloway Crawfish Boil and Block Party, known as the “most anticipated event before festival season,” takes place Sunday, March 31, in the 8300 block of Oak Street. The seventh annual boil and block party, a benefit for the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation, features live music on two stages . The world’s largest crawfish table contains a feast from master crawfish boilers Jason Seither (voted best boiled seafood, Louisiana Magazine) and James Clesi (voted best catfish in New Orleans). This community-driven event also showcases more than 50 New Orleans musicians in one big afternoon. Featured musicians on the outside stage include George Porter Jr. & Runnin Pardners, Papa Mali, 101 Runners and SOUL Brass Band.
A smoked-chicken po-boy from Boucherie on South Carrollton Avenue was named the Best Chicken at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival on Sunday. Parkway Bakery and Tavern’s James Brown po-boy danced away with the Best in the Fest award. The BBQ shrimp and beef po-boy beat out the more than 60 variations of the po-boy served at the annual celebration of New Orleans’ signature sandwich. The Oak Street festival’s website describes Boucherie’s winning sandwich as “smoked chicken with white BBQ sauce, queso chihuahua, candied jalapeno and rapini.”
The Po-Boy Fest winners are:
Best Pork: Trenasse for its Muffi Po-Boy
Best Chicken: Boucherie for smoked chicken po -boy
Best Beef: Parkway for The James Brown – BBQ shrimp and beef
Best Shrimp: Gulf Taco for its Lt. Dan shrimp po-boy
Best Seafood: Red Fish Grill’s BBQ Oyster
Most unique: NOLA Boil’s Escargot Po-Boy
The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival was held Sunday, Nov.
The 12th Annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival—which takes place Sunday, Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—will feature po-boys from prize-winning vendors, live music, and a specially-brewed Po-Boy Lager from Urban South Brewery. Po-Boy Festival 2018 Menu
Coming back to defend as the 2017 overall winner is Red Fish Grill with its champion BBQ Oyster Po-Boy. Vincent’s Italian Cuisine and their “Godfather” po-boy, a crowd favorite and winner of the 2017 “Best Pork” entry, will also be back this year. Returning after a two-year hiatus is Parkway Bakery and Tavern.