NEW ORLEANS — It provided one of the most memorable images of the city underwater after Hurricane Katrina. Efforts to revive the Circle Food Store have failed, so far. Now a prominent local developer is making a new attempt.
Walk inside Circle Food and you'll see history is making a comeback.
"It means a lot, this is a city landmark," said Sidney Torres IV.
Closed for almost two years, some wondered what it'd become. Co-owner Sidney Torres IV, says it's always been about highlighting its past.
"It was an African American owned store for a very long time and a lot of people had issues with me buying it and being part of buying it," he said. "I want to show everyone that it doesn't matter about that. We're going to give great service and we're going to honor the history of what was here before."
It's your typical market, with features like a bakery, butcher, fresh fruit and vegetables and more. It also will have a deli where people can sit and eat in if they'd like. There'll also be sweets stand where ice cream will be sold, an urgent care and a pharmacy. Look closer though, and you'll see some New Orleans flair including original signage and lanterns that mark each checkout. But it's those who'll be helping you that's the real story.
"I always say it's going to be the circle but the circle on steroids," Torres added. "And we're partnering with individuals who used to work here as a kid, who's fathers used to work here, and now they're going to be owners of their business here."
"It's coming all the way full circle," said Rustin Henry.
Henry says remembers coming to the store when he was younger. He also worked at the store after graduating from pharmacy school. He describes Circle Food as home.
"This is a labor of love because not only is it an opportunity to serve an underserved community but also my father was the first African American pharmacist hired at the Circle Food Store," Henry said. "I came up with the Circle and to see it now, it's the most unique mix of old and new I've ever seen."
We asked him what his father would say about the updates to the store, and he said his father would think it's fantastic.
And as the doors get ready to open, he and many others involved hope neighbors will enjoy the work that's gone into making this city gem shine even brighter.
"Just the stories you hear and just the stories I've heard over the years and being a kid, coming around the store and growing up close around here so it meant a lot to me to be part of bringing back this beautiful landmark and experience back to New Orleans and this neighborhood," said Torres.
A soft opening is tentatively scheduled for February 15th, the public is invited.