POSTED Tue. Feb 4, 2014
Gumbo bars and new means of making groceries
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN

I remember chatting with an urban planning friend about the cycle of gentrification. I’m fairly sure one of us snootily mentioned the Richard Campanella article that went viral a ways back, and then my buddy added this commentary.

“Adam, it goes like: artists. Then people who like artists. Then businesses. Then families. Then Whole Foods.”

Others with us agreed. There may be some confusion as to the middle block of the gentrification pyramid, but we all knew that sitting on top, reclining in a handcrafted chaise-lounge made of locally sourced, sustainably harvested materials, would be Whole Foods. Hell, when I first moved to New Orleans, I lived in a spot off Eleonore and Chestnut, and one of the selling points of the house was, It’ steps from the Whole Foods on Magazine.”

Well re-arrange those pyramids y’all, because the city’s newest Whole Foods opened today, in a decidedly yet to be gentrified swathe of the city at Broad and Bienville – site of an old Schwegmann’s. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s not the leafy, streetcar-accented slice of New Orleans romance you read about in guidebooks. It’s major thoroughfares, concrete, empty lots and cars.

But it’s also New Orleans, straddling Mid-City and the Tulane/Gravier area, which have a combined population of roughly 3000 families (data cited from GNOCDC). And those families are as entitled to fresh groceries as the rest of the city – although to be fair, I’m guessing the road accessible location of the store has a little to do with ease of access for people driving from other parts of town.

With that said, this pre-yuppification Whole Foods definitely doesn’t fit the mold of other stores in the chain. The entire project has been half helmed by Broad Community Connections and its associated ReFresh project which ams to get fresh produce and healthy groceries to underserved neighborhoods. The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine will be opening up across the way. There’s a gumbo bar – sorry, my heart skipped a beat when I typed ‘gumbo bar’ – run by the youth at Liberty’s Kitchen.

Good food. Easier access to groceries. Community building. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s a good time to be in New Orleans. We’re rearranging pyramids, urban life and out lives – I believe, for the better – one bowl of locally made gumbo at a time.

Whole Foods on Broad St
303 N Broad St
8am-10pm Mon-Sun

Images courtesy of Whole Foods


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    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


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    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


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    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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