NEW ORLEANS - For nearly seven years, the Circle Food Store has sat shuttered and empty at the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and North Claiborne.
Once a centerpiece for the Seventh Ward, the market fell victim to deep flood waters - its interior, destroyed.
But neighbors remember well what it meant to them.
"Everybody went there for bell peppers, the seafood, the meat - all that was just excellent," said Kenya Cormier.
For Betsy Thornton, the store was a place to socialize, but most importantly, it was convenient.
"I liked everything they have and you don't have to go different places," she said.
For the past four years, Circle Food Store Owner Dwayne Boudreaux has been trying to piece together the amount of money necessary to make his dream of reopening a reality.v Then came the break he was waiting for: a $1 million loan from the New Orleans Fresh Food Initiative - a financing program for produce markets in low-income areas - and a mix of tax credits and other state money.
Now, Boudreaux is on his way.
Construction could begin next month, with a target completion date of Easter 2013.
It'll take a huge effort, but Boudreaux is ready.
"I just can't put into words how I feel about it, not just for me, but for the customers," he said.
Over the years, Boudreaux said customers and neighbors have constantly hounded him to reopen.
"Every day, all the time, I mean, for a while, I had to walk around with a hat and sunshades like a celebrity," he said jokingly.
Former employee Gertrude Hampton heard it too.
"So many people saying, 'when are y'all coming back? Tell Dwayne we need Circle. We need Circle.' -- And I'm like -- 'We coming back,'" she said.
After years of waiting, Hampton plans to fill one of the expected 75 jobs the reopening will create.
She’s looking forward to welcoming shoppers to the Circle Food Store, once again.
"This means a whole lot to me. I'm just excited, you know. I'm so ready to come back," Hampton said.