After nearly forty years as a defining New Orleans restaurant, Esplanade Avenue’s Cafe Degas is expanding, opening a French bakery across the street in the former Fair Grinds Coffeehouse. The restaurant’s owners purchased the building at 3133 Ponce de Leon Street to open a lunch cafe and to increase kitchen capacity for Cafe Degas, reports the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate.
It’s an exciting future for the former coffeeshop, which closed earlier this year — while there are no shortage of po’ boy destinations in New Orleans, there are fewer sandwich shops. This cafe will focus on French-style sandwiches with cured meats and cheeses as well as pastries and coffee, co-owner Jacques Soulas told the newspaper. The bakery/deli/cafe, which is yet to be named, will begin with just lunch when it opens, but hopes to introduce breakfast eventually, according to the report. Eater has reached out to owners for more information and projected opening date and will update this story if we hear back.
Soulas and business partner Jerry Edgar opened Cafe Degas in 1986 on a dramatic, tree-draped block of Esplanade Avenue in Bayou St. John, named due to its proximity to the Degas House, where Edgar Degas lived in during his several-month stint in the city. It’s famed for its dining room, more like an open-air patio with a pecan tree growing in the middle of it, and has served a consistent menu of classic French brasserie food, like mussels and frites, escargot, French onion soup, and a beloved soft shell crab dish, which have also stayed consistently reasonably priced.
Cafe Degas already has a storage space across the street on Ponce de Leon due to its small kitchen; one would expect the new bakery kitchen to be used for additional prep and during dinner service, when the cafe is closed. The restaurant is currently closed for renovations from August 17 to 28, as announced on social media this week.
Will Rathke, the owner of Fair Grinds has no immediate plans to reopen the coffee shop in a new location, according to NOLA.com.