St. Roch Market Nourishes the Community

16:00 August 13, 2015
By: Cassandra Damascus

St. Roch Market is more than a place to grab a delicious and quick bite to eat. St. Roch Market is a community outreach nucleus, all while incubating the art and passion of food and service; of what is each vendor.  Barre Tangus and Will Donaldson are the masterminds behind St. Roch. Donaldson, owning several businesses in town, met Tangus when they started the company Launch Pad, a workspace for entrepreneurs. It is no wonder that the two conceived St. Roch Market, another workspace, this time for restaurateurs.

“New Orleans was formative in the American movement of market spaces,” Tangus explains, “We appreciate the European idea of open market spaces, and with New Orleans’ European influence, we were able to create an updated concept of a public market.” Tangus’s take on a public market equals fresh produce and, naturally, a startup lifestyle. Tangus and Donaldson started collaborating on St. Roch in April 2014 and began their lease in October 2014. After renovation and confirming vendors, the St. Roch Market opened in April 2015. The construction process took a mere sixty days.

The effects of the market shine throughout all levels of the community. The market showcases talented vendors, such as Dylan Maisel, founder of JuiceNOLA. Maisel grew up eating “clean” food his entire life, and wanted to share his fresh farm- to-table cuisine with the public. Starting JuiceNOLA eight months ago, Maisel’s original idea was to design a mobile juice cart. But then things spiraled. With the affordable opportunity St. Roch provided, Maisel took his first solo business to St. Claude Avenue to join the start-up cuisine culture. “St. Roch Market is a great platform to grow your business,” Maisel points out, “Opening your own business is a big investment. St. Roch Market offers the exposure without the big investment”. Maisel goes on to describe the community of vendors at St. Roch, claiming the relationships made are supportive since vendors find themselves in similar situations.

At first one may think that the vendors at St. Roch Market are extensions of current restaurants. It is refreshing to learn that is certainly not the case. It’s more Top Chef meets Shark Tank. Vendors can see what works, and what doesn’t, without losing the investment that comes with purchasing and opening your own restaurant (or bar). St. Roch also offers pop-up vendors who will set up shop for a week and try out a new concept.

Beyond being a great spot for chowing down, St. Roch offers events and outreach programs. They hold “lunch & learn’s” where participants can learn about food startups. It is also a time for community sourcing; getting people together to find the best solution. A sort of town hall format. These meet-up activities are held for free at St. Roch. They have hosted a variety of big events there: from Tales of a Cocktail (a few weeks ago) to weddings, to professional luncheons. The venue is also used as a networking opportunity. Tangus mentions how they offer gift cards to those who host networking functions for young entrepreneurs.

Both Tangus and Maisel note the effect St. Roch has made in the community. A majority of the employees live in the St. Claude area, and pull from all walks of life. Tangus describes the second chance cases at St. Roch Market-- workers beginning as bus boys who then progressed to management positions. Additionally, St. Roch Market partnered with Project Lazaras to directly help life transitions through job availability and growth within the job position.

This new sample of free enterprise has been received well by the community.  The mere appearance of St. Roch raises the morale, atmosphere, and potential of the St.Claude/Bywater neighborhood. Not to mention the employment the establishment has provided to locals. New Orleans residents are looking forward to embracing future reformations in more pockets of our charming city. 

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