There will soon be a new name serving the beignets and cafe au lait in New Orleans City Park. Cafe du Monde has been awarded the contract to run a beignet parlor in the park's Casino Building, replacing its historic rival, Morning Call Coffee Stand.
While Morning Call had run the concession stand there since 2012, the park this year put the contract for the location out to bid. At a meeting of City Park's board of directors June 7, Cafe du Monde was named the winner.
The timeline for Morning Call to close and Cafe du Monde to take over has not been determined, a park spokesperson said.
The change means the Morning Call brand soon will have no home, at least for now. Earlier this spring, Morning Call closed its longtime location near Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie. However, Bob Hennessey, who runs Morning Call along with his brother Mike, said they intend to reopen elsewhere.
"We're looking for a new home. Morning Call is not going away," Hennessey said. "City Park was great for us, but when one door closes, another opens."
The new lease in City Park is for 10 years and raises the minimum rate for the concession to $10,000 a month, plus a percentage of its revenue.
Three companies answered a request for proposals issued by City Park: Morning Call, Cafe du Monde and Cafe Beignet, which operates three locations in the French Quarter.
Morning Call submitted the high-est bid, promising a marginally higher percentage of revenue than its competitors. However, Morning Call missed a mandatory pre-bid meeting; as a result, City Park's management recommended the next highest bidder, Cafe du Monde.
The board's vote for Cafe du Monde was unanimous.
The Casino Building, a Mission Revival-style structure situated between a lagoon and the park's Botanical Garden, has been used by various concessions operators for many years. This time the request for bids specifically called for a "beignet cafe" for the site, and the particulars of the lease were tailored to draw dedicated beignet operations. Park officials earlier said the beignet concept had proved to be a hit with park visitors.
Jay Roman, a manager of Cafe du Monde, said his company plans to overhaul the beignet parlor in a style consistent with its other locations. It will serve its traditional menu of beignets and coffee. Cafe du Monde has nine locations, including its original stand in the French Market.
Morning Call also got its start in the French Market, and for many decades New Orleanians and visitors had their pick between the two and developed their own loyalties. In 1974, as the city was undertaking an overhaul of the French Market area, Morning Call relocated to Metairie. It was a fixture there until closing this spring.