Bart Bell, the former chef and co-owner of now-defunct Crescent Pie & Sausage Co., plans to open a Cajun-style meat market and hot plate spot in Mid-City later this year.
For Bell, it has always been about getting back to his roots. He was raised in Breaux Bridge and went to high school in Franklin and says he was inspired by the small convenience stores and gas stations that peppered the back roads and rural highways of Acadiana.
"I think that's such a huge part of Cajun culture — the ability to go to any gas station or just pull over on the side (of the road) and find a place where you can get a link, cracklins and a tall boy," Bell says.
After Bell and business partner Jeff Baron closed Crescent Pie & Sausage Co. last summer, Bell began working on plans for the new store, which he hopes to open by late fall. He says the shop will function as a Cajun grocery, with a hot plate line where people can get food — hot or cold — to go. There could be as many as 10 seats for dining, Bell says, but the emphasis is on takeout.
Bell says he'll sell sausages, chicken and pork chops, as well as a variety of soups, courtbouillon, gumbo and gravies (by the quart).
The store also will stock dry goods and Cajun cooking staples. "There will be a lot of varieties of rice," Bell says. "I think rice is a huge part of the South, and there's a lot of rice in Acadiana that we don't have here in New Orleans."
Rice will feature prominently on the hot plate line too, which will be mostly Southern and Cajun fare, Bell says. Crawfish pies and duck pies — similar to those Bell made at Crescent Pie & Sausage — will be available, as well as red beans, gumbo, vegetables, etouffee, brisket, a barbecue plate and possibly a dessert.
Bell wouldn't disclose the exact location of his still-unnamed store because he hasn't signed a lease, but he confirms the proposed space is on Broad Street.
"I would love to be able to stay in Mid-City," he says. "I live in Mid-City. I like the people here and I think there's a blue-collar vibe, which is sort of what I'm going for."