On Monday, December 16, 2019, family, friends, and customers of Café Rose Nicaud came together to celebrate The Ferinand’s retirement and the business’s closure after 25 years in operation.
I had the opportunity to celebrate true love, dedication, and commitment that I found to exist in both a romantic and business partnership. It’s been a while since “Love” moved me to the point of bliss and a longing for what I see before my eyes in two people.
I was honored to be present to celebrate 25+ years of love and business partnership that exists between the owners of Café Rose Nicaud, a two-story historic building near the corner of Royal Street., Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand. Their New Orleans love story will continue to grow as they close the doors of their business partnership.
We were all there to celebrate their retirement, but I wanted to hear about their love. It has not often that I have been able to witness love pours into others. I remember watching them, side by side, holding hands, embracing and looking at each other as if they were young and in love. It filled my heart with joy and happiness to know that true love really existed. Sadly, I realized what I saw in Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand is a love that I would only dream of. If even that. After two failed marriages, I do not believe in love for me anymore, but I want it for others.
Mr. Ferdinand crosses our paths as I told her that I had given up on love. Mrs. Ferdinand stopped him, grabbed his hand, looked him in the eyes, and said, “This is both of our second marriages, and he is the love of my life. Don’t you give up so easily true love will find you.” As the tips of their fingers released, they gave each other another sweet kiss.
Their love produced generations of beautiful children who assisted with the business. One of them, Kina B. Joshua, shouted out:
“Now it’s our turn to keep the legacy alive!”
Mrs. Ferdinand shared that her husband had to convince her that opening up ”The Cafe Nicaud” would be an incredible opportunity for them. She not only went along with the idea, but she trusted and had faith in her husband. The couple fought to survive the brutal blows of entrepreneurship in New Orleans at the height of racism and political corruption. Followed by the effects of gentrification that came after Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s that time for us, and just as important, the street has changed, and we didn’t change with it,” she said. “That’s not regrettable, we love what we did and how we did it.”
Nothing about that night spoke of New Orleans’ gentrification, even though it was the very reason Café Rose Nicaud closed its doors. That night was all things authentically New Orleans from the jammed packed room full of people to the very walls that surrounded us. It was a celebration of survival, overcoming adversity, and the accomplishments that come with loving one another.
The hosts, guests, and even the old bones of the building reminded me of how New Orleanians continues to strive. We survived to give life to our city, our culture, and our traditions. Every day that I continue to be blessed to live in my city of birth, I”m reminded of all the stories and stored up prayers of our ancestors.
I continue to be heartbroken by the closure of Café Rose Nicaud. New Orleans lost another venue that honored our ancestor’s entrepreneurial success. In this case, Café Rose Nicaud was named after Rose Nicaud, the first known coffee vendor in New Orleans in the 1800s. 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, which she pushed through the market on Sundays, selling “cafe noir ou cafe au lait.”
Café Rose Nicaud was 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. Thousands were able to come together at Café Rose Nicaud, a vessel for the community to envoke change, educate, socialize and inspire. If only the walls could talk.
I learned so much about life, love, and community and left with a new insight into my own life. It was a blessing to not only witness a long business partnership but to witness true love.
Melba Ferdinand and Rose Nicaud are two of my favorite New Orleans Black Women Icons. I think about their entrepreneurial success stories when I need a boost of inspiration and encouragement to keep on pushing towards my goals.
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.