The Old Coffee Pot is getting a new lease on life from a familiar name in French Quarter food.
Cafe Beignet, a local company with three locations in the Quarter, has bought the business and plans to reopen the historic St. Peter Street restaurant.
It will be called Cafe Beignet at the Old Coffee Pot and is slated to open in time for Jazz Fest in late April.
Peter Moss, a partner in Cafe Beignet, said the aim is to bring back the longtime eatery as a family-friendly breakfast spot in the French Quarter.
“It’s such a classic breakfast place that our parents and grandparents all went to,” said Moss. “Anyone who lived or worked in the French Quarter in that generation would go there. That’s why we’re so excited to bring it back.”
The Old Coffee Pot closed Feb. 10.
Said to date to 1894, it was part of the old guard of French Quarter eateries, known through the years for its Creole-style breakfasts. In particular, it was one of the last places to find traditional calas, the Creole rice fritters served under drifts of powdered sugar.
Calas will have a prominent place on the menu when Cafe Beignet reopens it, Moss said.
Dustin Palmisano, proprietor of the restaurant for the past 10 years, said last week he had to close because of declining business. He said street construction in the French Quarter took a toll, and a restaurant renovation conducted as part of the reality show “Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back" didn’t sit well with customers.
The Old Coffee Pot, a French Quarter fixture for generations, has closed.
"People liked the way it looked before,” Palmisano said last week, addressing questions about the decision to close the Old Coffee Pot. The renovation "took away what people liked about the place, and that drove off the locals we did still have.”
Moss and his partners are among those who remember the Old Coffee Pot in its prime, which is one reason they decided to buy it.
“We want to freshen it up and show off its old character. It’s going to look like it did 50 years ago,” he said of the planned renovations. “We want to be respectful of its history and continue the charm and the ambiance that brought people to the Old Coffee Pot all those years.”
Moss is part of a family that has run prominent antique shops in the French Quarter for more than a century. He and his business partners also operate the Steamboat Natchez.
In 2011, he and his partners bought and reopened another well-known local eatery: Ted’s Frostop on South Claiborne Avenue, near Tulane University.
The Old Coffee Pot, at 714 St. Peter St., is part of a row of historically significant French Quarter businesses, with Pat O’Brien’s just next door and Preservation Hall adjacent to that.
The restaurant occupies a historic town house with all the evocative contours of old New Orleans, from a carriageway sweeping through to a rear courtyard to the narrow balconies jutting above the busy sidewalk.
In addition to traditional calas, the Old Coffee Pot was known for bread pudding, and for the beloved waitress who prepared it. Pearl Jefferson had a tenure of 54 years, working at the restaurant from age 18 until her retirement in 2013.
In a WWL-TV feature from that year, "Miss Pearl," as she was known, was credited with keeping the restaurant consistent through successive owners over the years. After retirement, she still periodically baked bread pudding for the Old Coffee Pot.
Moss said that at one point in its history, the Old Coffee Pot operated a cooking school on the second floor. Cafe Beignet is looking at bringing that back, too.
Cafe Beignet got its own start three decades ago in the French Quarter and now has three locations, on Royal Street next to the police station in the 300 block, at 311 Bourbon St. and in the Jax Brewery complex on Decatur Street.
Last year, the company was one of three contenders, along with Cafe du Monde and Morning Call, for the lease to run a beignet parlor in City Park. Cafe du Monde ultimately won the bid process for that lease, and it is now operating its food truck in the park while it renovates its future cafe space.
Café Beignet at the Old Coffee Pot
714 St. Peter St.
Projected to open late April 2019
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