Not just a little red truck, Petite Rouge has a little red cafe

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Little Red Cafe, 3146 Calhoun Street.

Petite Rouge started as a little red coffee truck that is now familiar at events and festivals. But it’s not just a nomad in a vintage Citroën van. Since 2018, Little Red Coffee also served the Uptown and college crowd at 3146 Calhoun St.

Owner Julie Anne Pieri started the business with her partner Kurt Schmiederer. She was an art student at the University of New Orleans and taught art to children, taught English in Japan, and worked in the service industry.

She was a bartender when she first became interested in the coffee business.

“I was a bartender in New York and when I turned 35 I thought I had to decide what I wanted to do with myself,” she said. “I thought it might be time to leave the bartender, so I thought I could make some coffee.”

Pieri got a job at Haven’s Kitchen, the famous cafe and cooking school in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. La Colombe coffee was served there and she learned different coffee making techniques.

From there, Pieri took classes and began to study everything she could about coffee. A coffee truck wasn’t always in his plans, but it came with his partner’s encouragement.

“I learned all I could about coffee at work and mentioned a coffee truck to my partner on a whim,” she said. “I had totally forgotten about it until he reminded me and told me what a great idea it was.”

Pieri’s partner has skills in vehicles and, combined with Pieri’s knowledge of coffee and the service industry, Petite Rouge, a mobile coffee truck, was born. The truck started in 2015 serving on location at weddings, movie shoots and anywhere else that might need a caffeine fix.

The Petite Rouge Café space, the company’s physical store, was presented to the couple by the owners of French truck cafe, the roaster of Petite Rouge. The place, which once housed the edgy First Cup Café, has been renovated to accommodate La Petite Rouge. The couple knocked down a wall, painted and added a counter.

Marielle Songy, messenger of chic neighborhoods

Little Rouge Cafe, 3146 Calhoun Street.

While First Cup only occupied the front room of the building, Petite Rouge also benefits from a back room, with plenty of additional seating and space for a quiet meeting or study break.

“We hadn’t planned to open a store, but it was a good opportunity,” said Pieri. “We live in the neighborhood and it’s close to our base of operations and where we store our coffee trucks.”

The menu at Petite Rouge Café is full of local vendors, including bagels from Humble Bagel and donuts courtesy of Blue Dot Donuts. The banana bread, oat bars and chocolate chip cookies are homemade, as are all the syrups.

The shop’s sandwich selection includes roast turkey, chicken salad, ham, and vegetable sandwiches served on Dave’s Killer Bread. And in addition to coffee, the café offers a selection of teas from Bellocq Tea Atelier.

The atmosphere at Petite Rouge Café is laid-back and welcoming, and the team here have cultivated a fun space with a “celebrity wall of fame” that includes photos of stars such as Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese and the car salesman and local crooner Ronnie Lamarque.

“Cat on a hot roof”: puzzle

Additionally, there is a “community puzzle” where customers are encouraged to add a few pieces during their visits. A past puzzle of The Daddy’s Girls proudly hanging on the wall, while the current puzzle of Elizabeth Taylor’s classic Cat on a hot tin roof sits 70% on a table at the back of the cafe.

As well as being a friendly place to grab a coffee or lunch, the shop has hosted pop-up events, including a Patrick Swayze festival and concerts. Events have been put on hold during the pandemic, and while none are scheduled for the immediate future, Pieri said she would be happy to hold smaller events if the opportunity arises.

“Our famous regular Patrick Cooper and the Cast Iron Cactus have played here four times,” Pieri said with a smile. “We look forward to welcoming him back soon.”

If you can’t make it to the coffee, the Petite Rouge coffee truck regularly hits the streets of New Orleans and can be found periodically at Marsalis Harmony Park on South Claiborne and at various events and festivals throughout the city. . The truck, as well as the coffee space, is also available for hire for business events and parties.

Petite Rouge Café is open Monday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Little Red Coffee
3146 Calhoun Street
504-520-9688
petiterougecoffeetruck.com
Facebook: @petiterougecoffeetruck
Twitter: @petiterougenola
Instagram: @petiterougecoffeetruck

Journalist Marielle Songy can be reached at [email protected]

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