On Wednesday, it was announced that Circle Food Store, the historic 7th Ward grocery store opened in the 1930s that closed last October amid financial struggles, would be sold at an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s auction. The next day, prolific New Orleans developer Sidney Torres had scooped it up for $1.7 million, announcing plans to turn the property into a food hall, bringing New Orleans’s total number of such halls to four.
Torres told NOLA.com that the model he had in mind would be “similar to the food hall concept at St. Roch Market on St. Claude Avenue,” about a mile away from Circle Food, and said it would have a grocery element (a small stand with grocery items did not last long at St. Roch Market).
It would join St. Roch in the Bywater and the more recently-opened Auction House Market and Pythian Market, located in the Warehouse District and CBD, respectively. And judging by the reaction on social media, New Orleanians are not pleased.
he's turning it into a food hall like the St Roch market, this is just heartbreaking— Klaus Nomi Malone (@prokchorp) April 25, 2019
But it as though a non local bought it because Sidney doesn’t care about the negative impact it is going to have on that neighborhood. That area is a food desert and needs a grocery store with healthy options. Circle will be a trendy place for rich uptown folks to be seen.— Charlie Davis (@OhThatCharlie) April 26, 2019
The historic Circle Food Store was the first African-American owned and operated grocery store in New Orleans, in recent years diversifying its offerings to the neighborhood to include excellent vegan and vegetarian food. It flooded extensively after Hurricane Katrina, and after using a mix of public and private loans and tax credit funding to reopen in 2014, flooded again in August of 2017. The store closed last year, facing massive debt and lawsuits from creditors seeking payment on loans.
According to The Advocate, Torres and his partner Fouad El-Jaouhari will be joined by the owner/operator of Magnolia Discounts in New Orleans, hope to keep the name the same, and plan to reopen this year. Torres’ most recent project was Wrong Iron, a beer garden on the Lafitte Greenway that opened in January.
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- Circle Food Store, a historic New Orleans grocery and 7th Ward landmark, up for sheriff’s auction [ADVOCATE]
- Sidney Torres has purchased the iconic Circle Food Store [NOLA.COM]
- Here’s what Sidney Torres has in mind for the historic Circle Food Store he now owns [ADVOCATE]
- A New Beer Garden Along The Lafitte Greenway Opens on Sunday [ENOLA]