NEW ORLEANS -- It’s one order at a time at Ted’s Frostop Uptown. Customers and cooks are just trying to get back into the routine after one of their loved ones was violently taken from them.
“It’s just such a fragile situation, you know?” said Derrick Todd, managing partner. “It’s going to crack. You just don’t know when, and we just hold it together as long as we can.”
Todd says coming to work this weekend wasn’t the same without his head cook, Monique Smith.
“I picked her up for work Saturdays and Sundays because she lived in Gentilly,” Todd said. “She borrowed my car.”
Monique, or Nicki as she was known at Frostop, was a single mother with three children. Early Friday morning, March 10, she and her two boys were shot and killed in their Touro Street home. Her 12-year-old daughter, who was also shot, is reportedly in the hospital in serious condition.
The Frostop closed Friday, because the loss was too much to bear for Smith’s coworkers. When it reopened Saturday, donations started pouring in.
“Hundreds of dollars have come in in contributions,” Todd said.
He hired Smith almost three-and-a-half years ago. She was a bright light with a great sense of humor.
“She'd always say she couldn't cook, she'd work here, but she couldn't cook,” Todd said about his head chef with a smile. ”We’d ask her to make gravy and she'd say 'I don’t know how to make gravy!' She did, but it was just funny.”
And she was a favorite with many customers.
“I’d come here every morning and she’d see me in line and say, 'you're regular?’ and I’d say, ‘yeah,’” Jim Provensal said. “She always had a wonderful smile.”
Todd says Smith final found happiness in her personal life as well, just before she was killed.
“I knew her relationship was rough, and he was gone. That’s why she finally got happy,” Todd said. “It took awhile, but she did.”
Since Smith’s murder, Todd brought in grief counselors to help staff cope. Along with the sadness of their loss, is the concern for what will happen to Smith’s daughter.
“Everyone around here loved her so much. We would do anything for her child,” Todd added.
A funeral fund is being established at Capital One bank, but for now, donations are being collected at the restaurant.
“There are three caskets,” Todd said. “That's a lot of expense on someone all of a sudden. Nikki was a sweet, sweet girl, and we are going to miss her.”
Police have yet to identify any suspects or motive in the deaths of Monique Smith, 10-year-old Justin Simms and 6-year-old JuMyrin Smith, as well as the shooting of 12-year-old A’Miya Smith.
Anyone with information on this shooting is asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 504-822-1111.