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Upscale restaurant to open in New Orleans East this week

“Look, we have our challenges in New Orleans East, but we don't deserve the stigma, the stereotype..." said Councilman Oliver Thomas.

NEW ORLEANS — Leaders in New Orleans East are trying to overcome an image of crime, neglect, and a lack of commerce. One local entrepreneur says she never doubted that's where she'd open her new business.

Melika Honore' decided she would deliberately open her latest business in New Orleans East, then waited patiently for the pandemic to end.                 Wednesday night at 5:00, that dream becomes reality and she believes by building it, patrons will come. 

“The red came because it's my favorite color. It's bold. It represents love, fire. Fire, that's me.  That's my personality,” said Honore', 44.

Put an obstacle in the way of Melika Honore', and she'll turn it into green.

“(Hurricane) Katrina was a horrible thing that happened to our city but it changed my family’s life forever, for the good,” she said.

She and potential employees at a well-known music venue, needed daycare that was open 24 hours. So, she opened her own.

“And I had an income tax check, and I never worked for anybody ever since.”

That investment, along with hard work, very long hours, and the burden of taking the financial risk, has grown into several businesses, including day cares and financial advice for other women entrepreneurs. And now, Wednesday, the mother of three,  opens an upscale, adult music and restaurant venue, for what she calls grown ups in her age group. The Verdict, as it's named, shows the downside of people who made the wrong decisions, and the abundance, life multiplies back to you, when you make the right decisions in life, as she has. 

“I could have put this place anywhere, right? Anywhere. I had several offers on Oak Street, right? Different property owners were coming, ‘Hey, we see the vision,’ but I knew in my heart that it needed to be in New Orleans East,” said Honore’. 

“Look, we have our challenges in New Orleans East, but we don't deserve the stigma, the stereotype, especially when things are happening in New Orleans ‘West,’” said Councilman Oliver Thomas.

The East's councilman, Oliver Thomas points out how real estate is more affordable in his district, along with its progress.

“Look at the new sound walls going up, look at the new lights from Crowder to Read, look at now the new policing plan, where we have the police on the side of the interstate,” pointed out Thomas.

Melika understands the concern about crime and is facing it head on, with police and security every night, even to walk people to their cars.

“We can say we want New Orleans  to come back,  but we have to create it. We have to do it , so that it can come back,” declaired Honore’.

The Verdict has already hired 25 people. And lots of family will also work there, including her mom, who is the brains behind some of the recipes, including gumbo egg rolls, with or without okra, and fried bread pudding egg rolls.

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