Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum finds massive new home in Central City neighborhood

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB), a living history organization dedicated to the celebration of food, drink and Southern culture has outgrown its current home in the Riverwalk and is moving to a 30,000 square foot space in Central City. On Thursday, September 1st, a plan to redevelop the space and what impact it may have on the community will be unveiled at 10:30 a.m.

“We just can’t believe how much we have expanded in the last three years. Finding this space on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard is a boon to the museum and its mission,” said SoFAB Director Liz Williams. “Central City is home to a rich culinary history, so we felt this location was a perfect fit. This location is ripe for redevelopment.”

Although famous for being the central location for civil rights activities, the birthplace of brass bands and the stage for brightly dressed Mardi Gras Indians, Central City is also home to a number of food-related powerhouses. Some of these businesses include Brown’s Velvet Dairy, Leidenheimer Bakery, CafĂ© Reconcile and Uglesich’s.

The building located at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, formerly Dryades Street, was home to the Dryades Street Market in the 1800’s, which was the center of commerce where neighbors would buy meat, dairy, and more.

"By relocating SoFAB to this corner, we hope to join the resurgence of the neighborhood by linking its culinary assets together,” said Williams.

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) was instrumental in making this site acquisition happen. NORA connected Thoron Real Estate Development, a company that has been instrumental in post-Katrina redevelopment since 2008, with SoFAB to help fulfill its desire and need to expand. “This partnership is in line with NORA’s ongoing goal of the healthy and prosperous redevelopment of the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard corridor. SoFAB will be a great addition,” said NORA Board Chairman Jim Singleton.

“We immediately recognized that Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard would be a great investment with a bright future because of its proximity to downtown, St. Charles Avenue, and its proud heritage, where vital assets can be translated into a strong, stable investment. The boulevard has been overlooked for too long. The time is right,” said Thoron President Robert Taylor.

The company is currently developing four sites along the boulevard, including the new SoFAB Museum. “By developing on a larger scale, we are able to bring in the elements that will make the community a sought-after location. We are developing spaces to live, work, learn, socialize and play, spaces where people can enjoy a convenient, contemporary lifestyle,” said Taylor.

SoFAB has special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings that showcase the food and drink of the South. In addition to its current exhibits, the new, expanded museum is expected to have a children’s gallery, kitchen theater, a restaurant, a bar and other food-related experiences for visitors.

Thoron is looking forward to a ground breaking on a later date. At 10:30 a.m., Thursday, September 1st, plans will be unveiled at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum was founded in 2004 and is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in New Orleans and dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and related culture of the South. Its goal is to be a national resource focusing on the history of Southern food and beverages. To find out more information, go to

Thoron Real Estate Development Company was founded in 2000 and develops commercial real estate in Washington, D.C. and beyond through Applied Intelligence – building value into the acquisitions instead of relying on market conditions. Typical purchase and sale scenarios include acquiring challenged real estate assets, representing lenders in pre-foreclosures and workouts, making equity investments, purchasing bank real-estate owned, bankruptcy sale, purchase of discounted non-performing property and past-disaster rebuilds. In 2008, Thoron opened an office in New Orleans to support its commitment to rebuilding the community after Hurricane Katrina. Today, Thoron is also involved in the reconstruction of Haiti following the devastating earthquake in January 2010. To find out more information, go to

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