NEW ORLEANS — During a time when so many businesses are closing, one historic New Orleans shop is looking to reopen it’s storefront location for the first-time since Hurricane Katrina.
The Vaucresson Sausage Company, a third generation business, is in the process of restoring their old building on St. Bernard Avenue in the 7th Ward to open up a restaurant, deli and two-permanent affordable housing apartments on top.
A pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed is not stopping Vance Vaucresson from transforming the vacant and neglected building into Vaucresson Creole Cafe as a way to continue the family business, dating back to 1899.
“We’ve had delays, we’ve had issues which possibly could have killed the deal many times,” said Vaucresson who has been trying to find a way to get back into the building since Katrina.
The building is getting restored thanks to a partnership with Crescent City Community Land Trust, Liberty Bank, Edgar Chase III and funders including the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development, the City of New Orleans, the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office and Enterprise Community.
“It truly takes a village,” said Vaucresson. “I just wouldn’t give up asking for help and looking for innovative ways to try and find a way.”
The restaurant will serve the sausage so many have gotten to know at Jazz Fest and the other festivals that the Vaucresson company has been a part of but in addition to the food, the restaurant will have two permanent affordable housing apartments on top.
“Vaucresson has tirelessly worked for many years to bring his family business back to the Seventh Ward, but he hit a number of roadblocks that prevented 1800 St. Bernard Avenue’s restoration,” said Crescent City Community Land Trust Executive Director Julius Kimbrough, Jr. in a press release Monday “CCCLT became involved because we saw the tremendous value of Vaucresson’s return and developing two permanently affordable apartment units. Basically, CCCLT is an experienced community investor and our role has been as Vance’s co-developer and business consultant.”
The project comes during an affordable housing crisis but also as many restaurants close their doors.
Vaucresson is hoping things settle by the time the building opens next year.
“It just so happened that the way that it played out we are in the middle of a pandemic and everyone has so many different ways of doing business,” said Vaucresson. “I am just hoping that by the end of our build out that we will be able to enter into the market as it is adjusting to the new normal.”
It’s going to take some time to fix the old building up. Looking at it Monday, Vaucresson says he hates that it’s fallen into such bad shape over the years but hopes he is able to bring back something the neighborhood can be proud of.
“And hopefully share a little bit of our culture, a little bit of our love for the community.. And a little bit of our food for many generations and visitors to come,” said Vaucresson.