Beignets Are Back at Landmark New Orleans Cafe

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A waitress serves beignets at Cafe Du Monde. i

Waitress Hana Tran serves up a stack of Cafe Du Monde's signature beignets as the French Quarter landmark reopens. Mandalit del Barco, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Mandalit del Barco, NPR
A waitress serves beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Waitress Hana Tran serves up a stack of Cafe Du Monde's signature beignets as the French Quarter landmark reopens.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR

While much of the Gulf Coast remains in a shambles, there's another sign that New Orleans is coming back. Its most famous coffee spot, Cafe Du Monde, served up chicory coffee and beignets Wednesday morning for the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

A landmark in New Orleans' French Quarter opened today for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was at Cafe Du Monde at 6 AM.

(Soundbite of cafe activity)

Unidentified Man: One, two, ah, one, two...

(Soundbite of band playing)

MANDALIT DEL BARCO reporting:

A three-piece jazz combo welcomed Cafe Du Monde regulars back for coffee and beignets, the city's signature fried bread dusted with powdered sugar. Suzy Deerman(ph) was among the New Orleans natives who woke up before the sun to celebrate at the famous sidewalk cafe.

Ms. SUZY DEERMAN (Cafe Patron): I'm 63 years old, so I've been coming since I was in my pajamas. And they used to have a drive-thru, so parents would put their children in the car at night and drive through and get our coffee and doughnuts, and we would be in pajamas.

DEL BARCO: Cafe Du Monde has had a loyal following since it opened 143 years ago. And while much of New Orleans remains devastated, fourth-generation owner Scott Escara says they were spared.

Mr. SCOTT ESCARA (Owner, Cafe Du Monde): Other than some very minimal cosmetic damage, we did OK--no water. We had a little roof damage, but everything's been fixed and we're ready to go.

(Soundbite of band playing)

DEL BARCO: This morning the all-Vietnamese staff waited on customers wearing their trademark paper hats. Suzy Deerman led a second line dance around the cafe with children in their school uniforms waving Cafe Du Monde napkins.

Ms. DEERMAN: Beignets and coffee is a big part of the city, and we're going to come back. It may take a little while, but you can't keep us down.

(Soundbite of band playing)

Ms. DEERMAN and Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters' Ball.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, New Orleans.

(Soundbite of band playing)

Ms. DEERMAN, Unidentified Woman and Band Singer: (Singing) I'll be down to get you in a taxi, honey. You better be ready about half past eight. Now, dearie, don't be late. I want to be there when the band starts playing. Remember when we get there, honey--the two-steps. And I'm going to dance out both my shoes. When they play the "Jelly Roll Blues" tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters' Ball.

Ms. DEERMAN: There you go!

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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