Café Reconcile is a remarkable New Orleans institution that was founded to help break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, neglect, and violence that impacts young people in the Central City neighborhood. Fifteen years ago, Café Reconcile’s founder, Rev. Harry Tompson, led a group of local concerned citizens and activists to come together and launch a ‘soul food’ restaurant with true soul — a training ground to give local youth hope, life skills, opportunities, education and a path to successfully enter the hospitality and culinary industry workforce. Since 2000, Reconcile has placed more than 1,500 youth in culinary jobs in New Orleans in restaurants, hospitals, hotels and universities.
Along the way, the Café became a centerpiece for neighborhood revitalization, a great place to get a hearty lunch, and a regular vendor and caterer at festivals and events including the upcoming Louisiana Seafood Festival from September 4 – 6 at City Park Festival Grounds. The Café Reconcile youth will be offering their remarkably refreshing watermelon lemonade (a festival favorite) as well as a deliciously gooey bananas foster bread pudding.
If you can sit down and enjoy a full meal at Cafe Reconcile, currently housed in a 17,000 square foot reclaimed building in the Central City neighborhood, you will immediately feel part of a community that cares. Serving lunch Monday – Friday from 11:30 am – 2:00pm, the enthusiastic students who are part of the culinary training program are mentored by restaurant staff in five restaurant workstations: steward; floor service or wait staff; pantry chef; sous chef; and department chef. Favorites include baked chicken, collard greens with pork and chicken and sausage gumbo. Reconcile’s new location, with a state-of-the art commercial kitchen is on track to train nearly 300 students annually; proceeds from the restaurant sales go directly to supporting the culinary training program.
Café Reconcile was one of the first of twelve restaurants to re-open after Hurricane Katrina and quickly became a gathering for relief organizations, first responders, and the community. In 2006, Reconcile welcomed back its first students since the hurricane devastated the City, and the lives of so many residents. In 2006, Reconcile also launched a construction-training program because the city so clearly needed an influx of skilled construction workers to help with re-building and revitalization.
Café Reconcile serves as a model for local and national social enterprise projects, and is an inspiring organization that demonstrates how a brave and transformative vision— along with great food—can build hope and opportunity in the community.
1631 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard