The name of Dragonfly Cafe, a new breakfast and lunch venue in the English Channel, was chosen for its overall meaning: the dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability and self-realization.
the coffee is a partnership between the Raphael Academy and The Guild, a Waldorf inspiration learning center established in 2012 for children and young adults with developmental differences, and cafe general manager Thaddaeus Prosper, his sister and master baker Tammy Patterson and chef Gregory Thomas.
People with developmental, learning, language, and behavioral differences that can range from autism spectrum disorder to Down syndrome are often isolated from the rest of society, preventing interaction on both sides of this wall. According to Prosper, Dragonfly Cafe is as much about tearing down that wall as it is about serving fresh, locally grown food.
The sweet and welcoming cafe, which officially opened on November 14, is in the heart of downtown Academy, a community space which also includes offices, a bakery and the newly relocated Guild. The Guild is an outgrowth of the Academy that provides post-secondary education, as well as professional training and artist guild training for those 18 and older.
Guild members are already helping out in the bakery, with plans underway to keep them busy in the cafe as well. The city center is a first step towards creating more living spaces for people with and without development differences in the neighborhood. This is part of the school’s affiliation with the Camphill Association of North America, an international organization that aims to connect people with developmental needs to their community.
Prosper, originally from Algiers, founded Sheaux Fresh with his wife Tamara in 2008. The llocal and family supplier of fresh products emphasizes regional products from organic and sustainable agriculture. He spent nearly 20 years fronting Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants. Her love for gardening comes from her parents.
“My mom was a patio planter who did amazing stuff with pots,” Prosper says. “My dad was a weed grower who pulled weeds. We planted a large garden on the vacant lot next to our house and I had work to do before going to school and work to do after school before doing my homework.
Prosper grows produce on the North Shore and in Algiers selling it most weekends at 2500 Bayou Road. But in the future, this market will move to Raphael Village to bring more people into space.
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Prosper and Chef Thomas, also an alumnus of Emeril, have crafted an all-day changing menu of breakfast and lunch dishes with an emphasis on seasonality and value. Menu items are priced at $2, for two eggs, local honey, preserves, cheddar cheese and bread, to $16, for the grass-fed beef burger on a homemade sweet bun served with sweet potato fries. A green homage to a charcuterie board, The Paddle is an assortment of veggies and accessories, and the generous serving is enough for two people.
Patterson’s exceptional crusty bread informs many dishes on the menu, including house-smoked salmon and pickles served with herbed cream cheese on crostini and a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich with house-made pickles on the side. There’s dragonfly salad, more local vegetables from Sheaux Fresh, a chicken salad sandwich or wrap, and a bowl of rancheros with poached eggs, beans, and salsa fresca. Breakfast dishes also include a bowl of yogurt and fruit granola, terrific avocado toast topped with pico de gallo, and three eggs served with oatmeal and toast. Pastries from the Academy’s teaching kitchen are also available.
There’s a solid coffee and tea program, and all sorts of milk alternatives are available. They will soon add fresh juices.
Prosper says the partnership formed recently. “My wife was working at the Waldorf school, where she met Jackie Case, who is the executive director of Raphael Village. About five months ago she asked if we were interested in a partnership,” he says.
Prosper, who has some exceptional people in his family as well as first-hand experience as a special education teacher, sees everything about Dragonfly Cafe as a win-win.
“My sister’s bread and pastry are over the top. Greg, who is also a level two sommelier, was dealing with the pandemic and doing pop-ups, and I’m still looking for a learning experience,” he says. “We are a strong team and we haven’t even opened it yet.”
518 Jackson Ave, (504) 544-9530
6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday to Friday; 7.30am-3pm Sat.-Sun.