New Life For The Old Coffee Pot

Tom Fitzmorris September 20, 2019 06:32 Anxiously Awaited

When the news came in that the Old Coffee Pot was sold to a local chain of beignet shops, it made me sad. There are memories aplenty going way back to the Seventies at the Old Coffee Pot, when it was sort of a hangout for the creative types I knew. 

And then we got an invitation to a ribbon cutting for the new Cafe Beignet. I couldn’t wait to see what was done with the place. We were greeted at the door by one of the owners. The Grayline Tours and the Steamboat Natchez owners have partnered with Cafe Beignet, and this property is their newest acquisition.

The overall colors and footprint is the same, and aside from the cleaner, brighter look, the Old Coffee Pot is easily recognizable. Walls have been hand-painted, floors retiled, but there is no mistaking the spirit of the Old Coffee Pot. My wife says that the new owners showed great sensitivity to the old place by keeping old signs, and not really changing the look. Very well-done.

The beignets and calas were piled high on tables. They made me a fresh batch because they knew my attachment to these rice cakes. They were dense, and greaseless, and heavily laden with cinnamon, but not offensively so. Mary Ann really liked the beignets, and I have never seen her want to eat one. The Cafe Beignet beignets bear almost no resemblance to the originals, except the shape and powdered sugar. These were heavier, larger, dense, far less greasy, and more heavily coated with powdered sugar.  Mary Ann was intrigued by the difference and struck up a conversation with the owner, where she confessed that in her opinion, these were far better than the iconic versions. He laughed and told her she was in good company. Alton Brown and Rachel Ray prefer these as well.

The cases are full of other baked goods and right now Cafe Beignet is focusing on the menu of savory items and the signature beignets. I wonder how long calas will stay on the menu. I hope they do.

The owners were all wearing ties with a beignet and coffee print. MA flipped over these and suggested they sell them in the cafe. They hadn’t thought of that, but they should. Everyone I saw since the owner gave me his tie commented on the beignet tie.

They took us upstairs to a small room perfect for parties, with its own kitchen. Kevin Belton will be starting cooking classes up there soon, and with more renovations, the room will be avialble to rent. Perfect for 25 or 30 people.

This was a great party and we were delighted and honored to be there. Mary Ann observed that this was the best possible outcome for the old place. Buildings that old, (1829) need constant upkeep, so if the owner didn’t have very deep pockets, it would fall into disrepair, as it had. The new spiffier Cafe Beignet is a wonderful place for a tourist or local to stop in and have beignets and coffee. Or something New Orleans to eat. The tourists who have no history will think it’s a great New Orleans place. The ones who remember the Old Coffee Pot will be happy that it can go on. I know I am.

Cafe Beignet

714 St. Peter   New Orleans