Café Rose Nicaud contributed to the community, character, charm, and culture of Frenchmen Street in New Orleans has closed

It breaks my heart to inform all of that Melba Ferdinand, who started the Café Rose Nicaud with husband Kenneth, said the couple, now in their 70s, are retiring as reported by NOLA.com.

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Café Rose Nicaud has closed its doors on December 16, 2019, after decades of contributing to the character, charm, and culture on Frenchmen Street, as well as being a vessel to bring the community together. There are only but a few Black-owned businesses not only on Frenchmen St but the city as a whole, and this news of its closing shows the effects of gentrification in New Orleans. After Katrina, their customer base changed as well as Frenchmen St, and they made adjustments, but I imagine it was not the same just as most businesses, well life for native after Katrina. Local businesses survived in the past because their businesses were patronized by loyal locals who are often overlooked by tourists because it’s not a commercialized New Orleans business.




Café Rose Nicaud was located on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. Frenchmen Street is just as lively as Bourbon Street but attracts a mature, outgoing crowd to enjoy New Orleans Nightlife and Artistry. Nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and music halls line the sidewalk from Decatur to Royal. Brass bands put on a free show on the corners of Frenchmen Street. Locals and tourist alike bar and club hop down Frenchman Streets to hear a live New Orleans musicians of different genres. But for years Café Rose Nicaud black-owned coffee shop-café on Frenchmen Street and now we are left to mourn the loss of another business that contributed to the culture of the city.

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There was a second line with the Storyville Stompers on Monday, December 16 celebrating  Café Rose Nicaud 25 year + run and a fruitful retirement for proprietors Melba and Ken Ferdinand.


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Kenneth and Melba Ferdinand said,

“It’s that time for us, and just as important, the street has changed, and we didn’t change with it. That’s not regrettable, we love what we did and how we did it.”

The couple owns Café Rose Nicaud’s property, a two-story historic building near the corner of Royal Street. Ferdinand said a sale of the property is in the works, though she could not name the prospective buyer.

“Born into slavery, Rose Nicaud was known to sell coffee on the streets of the French Quarter on Sundays,” writes Ian McNulty. At the time of its opening, Mrs. Ferdinand said Rose Nicaud  “was a place for people who were done drinking or didn’t drink but wanted somewhere to go before a show.”

McNulty also reports that, though December 16 was Rose Nicaud s final “official” day in operation, the business will open on December 28 “for a special day for customers and friends to gather one last time.”

On its website, there’s a statement saying,


Café Rose Nicaud


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Cafe Rose Nicaud founders Melba Ferdinand and Kenneth Ferdinand flank their daughter Kina Joshua and New Orleans vocalist John Boutte at their Frenchmen Street coffee shop.

Cafe Rose Nicaud is dedicated to the memory of Rose Nicaud and her pioneering success as a leading entrepreneur whose resourceful spirit and extraordinary efforts continue to inspire us today.


The legacy: Her name might not be known by many New Orleanians today, but Rose Nicaud’s legacy has been felt — or, more accurately, tasted — every day in New Orleans for nearly 200 years. A former slave who purchased her freedom, she sold cafe-au-lait to French Market vendors from a push-cart in the early 1800s. That humble business plan would make her a trailblazer on multiple fronts. Not only is “Old Rose” recognized as the first New Orleans street vendor to offer fresh coffee, but she would inspire other free women of color — with such lyrical names as Zabette, Manette and Rose Gla — to follow suit and open coffee carts of their own. Eventually, Nicaud would save enough to set up shop at a permanent location in the French Market, one that would become a daily oasis for everyone from wealthy planters to humble dock workers. It would also lead to the establishment thereof such coffee stands as Morning Call and Cafe du Monde — and kick-start a robust, restorative and revered New Orleans tradition.


In the early 1800s, Rose Nicaud became the first known coffee vendor in New Orleans. Rose, a slave, saw the opportunity to provide a service to French Market vendors, workers, and shoppers by providing them with fresh, hot coffee. Rose created a portable cart that she pushed through the market on Sundays, selling “cafe noir ou cafe au lait.” Her entrepreneurial efforts were a quick success. One customer is quoted to have said, “Her coffee is like the benediction That follows after prayer.”


The former slave who opened the first French Market coffee standRose likely provided the majority of her earnings from the day’s sales to her owner, as this was the typical arrangement. She saved the portion she was allowed to keep until she had enough to buy her freedom. Rose’s earliest customers stood next to her cart to drink their coffee. Later, she created a permanent stand in the Market, and her customers were provided with seating. Rose’s success inspired dozens of other women of color, who sold coffee from small portable stands.

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The icon: Rose Nicaud.  The artist: Maddie Stratton.
The quote: “Her coffee was like the benediction That follows after prayer; or, if you prefer, like the benedictine after dinner.” — Catherine Cole, in the 1916 book “The Story of the Old French Market.”


In the 19th and early 20th century, many resourceful women of color in New Orleans made their living. They supported their families by selling coffee, pralines, calas, and other food and drink in the French Market and on the streets of the city’s old neighborhoods. They were known as Les Vendeuses.

Cafe Rose Nicaud is dedicated to the memory of Rose Nicaud and her pioneering success as a leading entrepreneur whose resourceful spirit and extraordinary efforts continue to inspire us today.


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We are selling our equipment and furniture. We have a double wide freezer, double-wide refrigerator, convection oven, automatic espresso machine, ice machine, coffee brewer, portable wooden storage bin, condiment stand, marble sitting tables, chairs, retail refrigerator, flat top griddle, rice cooker for sale.
If you are interested, get in touch with Kina – kbj.caferosenicaud@gmail.com


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A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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