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Owners of Heard Dat Kitchen plan to reopen for business after damages to building

Owner Tia Dorest and her father, Jeffery Heard plan to open the restaurant on Wednesday

NEW ORLEANS — Instead of serving up the favorites, like red beans and fried chicken, clean up was happening instead Tuesday, at Heard Dat Kitchen on Felicity Street in New Orleans.

“The bench collapsed. This entire wall was pushed in,” said Tia Dorest pointing to damage she noticed when she showed to open the restaurant Monday morning.

Dorest was shocked to be looking at a hole in the building.

“I decided to look at the footage on the camera. I was like maybe it was a drunk driver at first,” said Dorest.

When she looked at security video from Sunday night, she saw what happened.

“Someone sped up Felicity and tried to do a donut in the middle of the street and crashed into the building,” said Dorest.

The white sports car, with no headlights, then drove off. The damage forced the restaurant to close.

“I had to wipe the tears off of her eyes,” said Dorest’s dad Jeffery Heard.

Heard, opened the Central City restaurant eight years ago. It’s been a family operation ever since, creating a big draw for tourists.

“Tourists like to step out of the central business district or the French Quarter to experience the authenticity of New Orleans when it comes to the cuisine,” said Dorest.

That includes Jerome Ross from Ohio, in town for a conference. He showed up to the restaurant Tuesday hoping to try it out.

“I searched best soul food near me, and it was the number one rated soul food restaurant that pops up,” said Ross.

He didn’t get to try the food, but as a restaurant owner himself, he says he’ll be back on his next trip.

“This doesn’t infuriate me or anything. There are all kinds of local day to day challenges you have as a restaurant owner,” said Ross.

After our interview a passerby said he saw a car that looked like the one in the security video. The car, a white Pontiac Trans Am, was parked on the street behind the restaurant. With damage to the front end and identical markings, the parked car appeared to match the one seen in the security video.

Eyewitness News was there as New Orleans police showed up. According to a spokesperson from the NOPD, police are looking into the connection between the car and the hit-and-run crash, but as of Tuesday afternoon there had been no arrests.

“We’re going to bounce back, bigger and better,” said Dorest.

Back at the restaurant, Dorest and her dad are just trying to get back open, thankful no one was hurt.

“We’re going to make the best of the situation and not harp on the bad times that have happened,” said Dorest. “That’s all we can do.”

A bad time soon to be eased with good food. The dad-daughter duo hopes to reopen Wednesday.

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