*Edit: Morning Call has officially reopened at 5101 Canal Blvd. For more info, visit facebook.com/leroyquigly*
Hark! Dessert-lovers, behold the definitive list of The Best Doughnuts in Every State. A curated ranking released by Food & Wine magazine that spreads the good word of "doughnuts, donuts, crullers, beignets, malasadas—by any name, these are the finest fried dough treats in America." Who has the best leavened fried dough in Louisiana: District, Meche's, Café Du Monde? It's not what you expect. We are witness to a resurrection. Morning Call Coffee Stand and their beloved beignets have been coronated ... but wait, the last Morning Call closed in 2018? What is happening?
After two long years of being without a storefront, Morning Call is (almost) back. According to NOLA.com, plans for the cafe to open up in Mid-City have been underway since 2019. It will be housed in a new building, near City Park, along with a Bud's Broiler. We can smell the coffee and charcoal-broiled burgers already.
The return to the Navarre neighborhood for both eateries is an exultant one. Morning Call moved into City Park's Casino Building in 2012, though it felt like it had been there since at least the 1930s. Those mirrored walls were reflecting iPhone selfies, but the place managed to maintain a vintage feel down to the last detail — Edison bulbs, employees in paper hats, that delicately tiled floor. Despite being a relatively recent addition to City Park, the antique feel Morning Call achieved wasn't entirely artificial.
A chunk of the charm came from the building itself, which was constructed in 1912. According to New Orleans City Park's website, the structure "served as a refreshment stand and administrative center for City Park. Although technically a 'cantina' (a place where refreshments are served), as the story goes, the strong local accent transformed the word into 'ca-sin-a' and eventually 'casino.'" The nickname stuck around even after a renovation in 1999 renamed the building to the Timken Center. Certainly, the Casino Building could take credit for those classically coffered ceilings painted an antique misty blue-green, but Morning Call brought its own deep-rooted heritage to the joint.
According to their Facebook page, Morning Call was founded by Joseph Jurisich in 1870. The French Market stall gained fame for its chicory coffee and beignets. Morning Call thrived in the Quarter for over 100 years before moving to Metairie in 1974. In 2012, the City Park spot opened. It felt like it had been there forever and would last forever, eternally serving up cafe au laits and beignets buried under heaps of powdered sugar.
Forever was cut short in 2018 when City Park announced a request for bids on a 10-year lease on the Casino Building. And so began the unofficial Battle of Beignets with Morning Call asking for an injunction and City Park publishing a defensive tweet. The drama was all because Morning Call, the highest bidder, missed a pre-bid meeting. City Park considered them ineligible and, ultimately, Café du Monde moved into the Casino Building. The famous Jackson Square beignet shop first arrived in the park in early 2019 as a food truck, operating that way until renovations finished in July, Eater New Orleans reported.
While they were gone, the soul of Morning Call Coffee Stand went online. Serving as a coffee hub, MCCS have written blog posts on "Keurig K-Supreme Plus Review: a Story About how Keurig Made 2020 Merrier." They've reviewed products like the artful Japanese Hario V60. It was simultaneously a change of pace and a return to their roots.
Entering a new era of Morning Call, we're excited about it all. The food, the drink, the ambiance. It sounds like we won't be let down. "Morning Call is incorporating architectural elements that Hennessey has kept in storage since closing its previous locations," NOLA.com's Ian McNulty wrote. Expect to see emblems like the "distinctive, arch-shaped counter, old mirrors, and swivel stools." Welcome back, Morning Call, and please accept the title of "Best Donut in Louisiana," even though it's technically a beignet.