With New Orleanians bracing for what could be the worst week yet in the local coronavirus crisis, local restaurants, farmers, and produce wholesalers are offering alternatives to grocery store shopping with pivots to retail, pickup, and delivery.
Farms Add Non-Membership, Direct-to-Consumer Produce Sales
The current pause on farmers markets and temporary closure of many top New Orleans restaurants coincides with a busy growing season, says Cheryl Nunes of local farm River Queen Greens. River Queen Greens opted out of farmers markets before operations were suspended, and instantly shifted to increasing its farm share by partnering with other local growers.
After quadrupling their farm share capacity, “we tweaked our pickup system so that members only touch their own shares, and we offer home delivery to high-risk and/or quarantined members,” Nunes told Growing for Market. River Queen Greens has also added one-off produce pickups (follow here) for those without a farm share membership.
One of River Queen Green’s partners is Covey Rise Farms, a preferred source for some of New Orleans’s top chefs and restaurants. Covey Rise has added more direct-to-consumer sales with a schedule of pickups around town at Thalia, Capulet, Gnarly Barley Brewing, and more. The large bags of fresh-harvested produce go for $30, estimated to be enough for 2 to 3 meals for a family of 4 to 5.
Produce Wholesalers Sell Direct to Public
A larger local provider has shifted further, moving entirely to personal home delivery after hearing about an older couple fearful of entering a grocery store. 70-year old produce wholesaler Mistretta’s Produce, which says it typically supplies 100 restaurants in the New Orleans area, is now offering four produce box options for free delivery local delivery.
The city’s biggest wholesale produce supplier, Louisiana Fresh Produce, is also selling directly to the public for the first time, offering curbside pickup at its Gert Town warehouse on S. Dupre Street. Fruit, vegetable, and even crawfish boil boxes can be ordered to pick up the following day, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At least a few local restaurants have moved to selling produce and other groceries, including Fat Boy Pantry, the LGD cafe and juice bar that typically sticks to high-quality sandwiches, coffee drinks, and ice cream. It was an early adapter, adding fresh produce to its new online ordering system weeks ago. The wide range of fruit and vegetables can be ordered by 8 p.m. for pickup or delivery the next day, Monday through Saturday.
Bywater staple for vegan and vegetarian food Sneaky Pickle also rolled out a market in March, just months after it finally reopened following a fire that forced a nine-month closure. Finding themselves “needing to transition once again,” owners established Sneaky Pickle Market, offering a mix of local produce, products made in-house, and groceries. An order form opens for 24 hours on Thursdays, with orders picked up or delivered on Saturday. Sunday, Sneaky Pickle opens for market window hours, where no pre-order is required.
Coffee Science, the two-year old coffee shop on Broad Street that serves world class coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and salads, has added groceries and meals to its offerings. In addition to Covey Rise produce boxes, items like Creole cream cheese, eggs, bread, and flour are available, as well as packing up quarts of soup and “dinner for two” like chicken curry and fennel sweet potato, pasta primavera, and lasagna. All items can be ordered through the shop’s website for pickup.
Check back with Eater for updates on produce pickups, delivery, and New Orleans restaurants-turned-suppliers, and let us know of local spots now selling groceries or wholesale suppliers selling directly to consumers.