Gracious Bakery + Café has made its name and expanded across New Orleans with a mix of classic and creative baked goods.

Now it has a new location in downtown New Orleans that's add something more to the bakery/cafe concept.

NOCHI Cafe by Gracious opened Jan. 2 inside the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, at 725 Howard Ave.

nochii street

The cluster of buildings at the corner of Howard Avenue and Carondelet Street is the new home of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute, or NOCHI.

That’s the long-awaited culinary training center at Howard Avenue and Carondelet Street that officially opened the same week.

Gracious founder Megan Forman said this eatery is tailored to its unique setting, with a more extensive menu of breakfast and lunch dishes. It also has a chef at the helm for the first time.

New Orleans bakeries on the rise_lowres

Megan Forman presents fresh croissants and rolls at Gracious Bakery + Cafe.

Michael Doyle, a familiar name in local restaurant circles, will lead NOCHI Cafe by Gracious.

Doyle is best known for his Bywater restaurant Maurepas Foods, which brought a modern edge to local flavors when it opened in 2012. He cooked at Dante’s Kitchen for years before that, and after Maurepas Foods closed in 2015 he ran the teaching café at NOCCA, Press Street Station.

“We feel so lucky to have Michael working with us,” said Forman.

Alongside the pastries and bagels and sandwiches, look for a menu of composed but still casual dishes with more greens and grains and a streak of Levantine, or Middle Eastern, spice. Some examples: a short rib debris sandwich with harissa slaw on a challah bun and a piri piri fried chicken with tabasco peppers, cornmeal waffle and Steen's Cane Syrup.

The full menu is served through 2 PM. After that, café will have grab-and-go items. The cafe will have a full bar, which is slated to open in the next few days.


Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - A collection of breads and pastry lines the counter at Gracious Bakery + Cafe on St. Charles Avenue.

NOCHI was developed in a complex of interconnected buildings that was originally conceived as an arts center but which has stood vacant for years.

“We want this to be an amenity for the school and Tulane and the staff, and also for the neighborhood,” Forman said, pointing out the many residential developments now underway on nearby blocks.

The new culinary program was conceived as a different approach for workforce development and career building in the hospitality field, with an accelerated curriculum.

The campus is also home to a Tulane University business school program, which leases about a quarter of its space, and it has its own areas for private events and classes aimed at the public.

Forman, an alum of Bayona and Sucre, opened Gracious in 2012. This will be its fourth location.

NOCHI Cafe by Gracious

725 Howard Ave., 504-635-0033

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.