After months of anticipation, a beloved local mainstay for beignets and cafe au lait has returned to New Orleans. Morning Call Coffee Stand’s new cafe at Canal Boulevard and City Park Avenue opened over the weekend, on Saturday, March 27.
The cafe at 5101 Canal Boulevard has been in the works since January 2020, when owners signed a lease for the building alongside the owners of Bud’s Broiler, another lost local brand that will return when it opens next door — under the same roof — later this year. Morning Call closed its last location in City Park’s Casino Building in January 2019 after six years, following a 10-month battle over the site’s lease with New Orleans’s other iconic beignet brand, Cafe du Monde. The bidding war captivated beignet fans everywhere and the city at large, staunchly dividing New Orleanians into Cafe du Monde people and Morning Call people. Cafe du Monde opened in the Casino Building in Summer 2019, after a few months serving out of a food truck.
Morning Call got its start at New Orleans’s French Market 150 years ago, when the riverfront strip was the city’s primary hub for food and shopping. It moved out to Metairie in 1974 (Cafe du Monde stayed at the French Market) and opened a 24-hour stand in City Park in 2012. Morning Call owners Bob and Mike Hennessey closed the Metairie location in April 2018 citing rising rent, just before bidding on the Casino Building initially opened.
When they lost the Casino Building lease, the brothers vowed to revive the brand in New Orleans, teasing possible locations in Kenner, on Magazine Street, and on Esplanade Avenue. They had preliminary talks with officials at the Fair Grounds about opening a stand there, which would have been a first for the racetrack. Bob and Mike Hennessey finalized plans for the joint comeback with Bud’s Broiler at the Canal Boulevard corner building in early 2020, though they have previously said they would like to open more than one new location.
The new Morning Call was designed with nostalgia in mind — a familiar-looking bar stucture is the shop’s centerpiece, topped by an arched sign lit with bare bulbs and flanked by mirrors, evoking an old-school soda fountain. There’s a ton of covered outdoor seating on the front patio, which also boasts ceiling fans for New Orleans summers. Of course, Morning Call’s iconic neon coffee cup sign serves as its beacon; fans began their countdown to Morning Call’s return when it went up in late January.
In addition to beignets and coffee, Morning Call serves jambalaya and red beans and has an applied for a liquor license. While hours will eventually be 24/7 as the sign advertises, they’re limited by coronavirus restrictions for now.
Morning Call Coffee Stand is currently open daily at 5101 Canal Boulevard from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bud’s Broiler expects to open next door in the next month.
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