|Cafe N'Orleans reopening on Main Street
By SHARON CASKEY HAYES
Owned by Sherrie and Kenny St. Germain, the restaurant moved from Cumberland Street to 161 E. Main St., in the Kingsport Chamber building.
"We had gotten too busy and there wasn't enough seating at our other location," Sherrie St. Germain said. "It really affected us — especially in the wintertime because people tend not to come because they think they can't get seated."
The new location offers plenty of parking and indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a large kitchen that will allow the restaurant to expand its menu. Instead of offering certain dishes on certain days, many of the traditional New Orleans specialties will be on the menu everyday. Dishes will include red beans and rice, pasta jambalaya, shrimp Creole, chicken and sausage gumbo, and various po' boy sandwiches. Crawfish and shrimp dishes, fresh catfish and gator will also be served, along with more vegetarian dishes.
Appetizers will also be offered, such as Cajun egg rolls. The restaurant will serve dinner favorites such as eggplant Louisiana and Mardi Gras chicken, a seasoned fried chicken breast served over a Cajun butter rice topped with sauteed artichokes, tomatoes, onions and white cream sauce.
Sherrie said the food is seasoned, not spicy, and she gladly offers samples for customers to taste. "It's true New Orleans food," she said.
For dessert, the restaurant serves various traditional items as well as specialty dishes, such as bread pudding with bourbon and vanilla sauces and sweet potato praline pie.
The restaurant uses real butter, no MSG, and only all natural, hormone-free chicken.
"Anything I feed my customers I feed my kids," Sherrie said.
The St. Germains, along with their business partners Roger and Laura Beal, have been hard at work during the past couple of weeks preparing to open the new location. They've spruced up the inside of the place, added traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, and built a separator between the kitchen and seating area.
Sherrie said the restaurant will include a piano for background music. The restaurant has applied for a beer license and expects to be able to serve various brews starting in December. And customers are invited to bring their own wine to enjoy with their meals.
Local artist Kathy Blair has painted murals for the cafe, including one that ties in New Orleans with the restaurant's new location next to the railroad tracks. The artwork shows an approaching train, and it refers to the 1970s hit song, "The Train They Call the City of New Orleans."
Sherrie said the larger location has allowed her to hire six more employees — one of whom decided to stay here after evacuating to Kingsport from New Orleans during Hurricane Gustav.
Sherrie and her family know all about evacuating to escape hurricanes. In 2005, Sherrie, Kenny and their children, Jenna, Micah and Tommy, lost virtually everything they owned when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their house and neighborhood in New Orleans.
They moved to Kingsport and decided to stay.
But Sherrie, whose roots run deep in Louisiana, still missed New Orleans and its flavored food. She dreamed of starting an authentic Cajun and Creole restaurant in Kingsport, and shared that vision with Roger Beal, a friend the family had met at church.
Together, the St. Germains and Beals debuted Cafe N'Orleans on Cumberland Street on Nov. 5 last year.
Sherrie is the restaurant's cook, serving up the recipes she learned growing up in the Crescent City.
Roger handles the daily operations of the restaurant while his wife, Laura, serves as dessert artist.
Sherrie said she's grateful to the people of Kingsport for the opportunity she's been given here.
"I can't thank Kingsport enough for being so receptive to what was just once a passing dream," Sherrie said.
She said the restaurant shows that people can rise above their circumstances.
"A pastor once said in a sermon that too many people focus and dwell on the small rear-view mirrors of their past so much that they lose sight of the larger windshield of life ahead. That struck a chord — I chose the windshield," she said.
The restaurant will be open for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Sherrie said she eventually hopes to open for lunch on Sunday as well.
Catering is offered and lunchtime deliveries are available.
For more information, call the restaurant at (423) 245-5400.