Sucre macarons will soon be back, and so will the brand’s gelato and, for Carnival time, its popular, eye-catching king cake.
The once-prominent New Orleans dessert emporium abruptly shut down in 2019. Now it has a new owner who is preparing Sucre for a fresh start.
Ayesha Motwani bought Sucre’s name and recipes, and she is now in the process of renovating the Sucre’s original location, a storefront at 3025 Magazine St. She expects to open soon after Thanksgiving.
“Everybody can expect the same taste and quality, the same level of precision and seasonal flavors,” Motwani said. “We want to take what you know and elevate it.”
The executive chef for this new Sucre is Ashley McMillan. She was executive sous chef at Sucre for three years before the old brand’s closure, and later worked as executive pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton.
What’s different about this new Sucre is important too though.
“It’s the same name and the same recipes, but a new company, new ownership and a new vibe,” Motwani said.
Sucre got its start in 2006 and was an early success story as the New Orleans food scene revamped after Hurricane Katrina. Eventually it had three shops and its sweets were sold nationally online and at retail outlets across the area.
By 2016, though, Sucre co-founder Joel Dondis had left his management role in the company. In 2018, co-founder Tariq Hanna, who was the face of the brand for years, left Sucre under what was later revealed to be a raft of sexual harassment accusations.
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In June of the following year, Sucre met a swift demise. While the company was advertising staff positions to fill one week, by the next week it had closed for good. Employees only learned of the closure when they showed up for work the same day.
The company soon filed for bankruptcy, and court filings from that action showed signs of rising expenses and a deteriorating financial condition during the company’s final run.
A bankruptcy filing by Sucré, the defunct New Orleans sweets vendor, shed some light on the reason for the company’s sudden demise in June aft…
“There was a dark cloud over Sucre, this is our chance to revitalize it again,” she said. “This is a woman-owned brand now, with a female executive chef. We’re want to empower that femininity.”
Motwani is married to Aaron Motwani, the local businessman who owns Willie’s Chicken Shack. She said Sucre is her own venture. It’s her first foray into the restaurant business.
She said she was moved to bring Sucre back through her own personal connections to the brand, and the travails the pandemic has brought to the city’s business sector.
“I was pregnant with our first child when we started going to Sucre and it was a place we took all of our kids,” she said. “I think places like this should be there for families, for that date night, for a place to get a great coffee. With businesses closing in the pandemic, I want people to see a place coming back.”
Sucre once ran a production facility in Gert Town, supplying its stores and retail outlets. Motwani said this new Sucre will prepare its products on site at the Magazine Street shop, which is being overhauled with new equipment and furnishings.
Local roaster Congregation Coffee will provide Sucre’s coffee and other local brands will be suppliers.
The original Sucre was drawn up as a modern dessert brand for New Orleans. French macarons, puffy little sandwiches of meringue, were the calling card. Soon Sucre put its stamp on king cake, serving one with an iridescent icing, part of a then-new wave of inventive takes on the traditional Carnival treat.
Motwani said king cakes will be an important part of the new Sucre too.
While the Magazine Street location takes shape, Motwani said she is eyeing a possible second location in the French Quarter, though that would not necessarily be in the same location the former Sucre once occupied. That building, at 622 Conti St., remains on the real estate market for sale or lease.
Sucre’s former Metairie location has been converted to a location of Chez Pierre French Bakery, which opened this fall after pandemic-related delays.
3025 Magazine St.
Slated to open late November/early December 2020
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