Vieux Carré panel backs Morning Call proposal

Decades after it left the French Quarter for the suburbs, Morning Call, the popular 24-hour beignet stand, could make a return to its original neighborhood.

The Vieux Carré Commission on Tuesday voted to give conceptual approval to a plan that would allow the beignet stand and coffee shop to build a new location on a small lot on Conti Street between North Peters and Decatur streets.

Preliminary plans call for demolishing an existing service station building that is on the site and replacing it with a two-story building with a rooftop terrace that would seat 230 customers among the two floors and roof.

But there was some concern about how the building — essentially a glass cube to allow it to be an open-air building — would fit in the historic neighborhood.

Commission Chairman Ralph Lupin described the proposed building as a “relatively modern building” that would go up in an “important” part of the Quarter.

He also said he had concerns about the crowds that could potentially grow in the area if Morning Call is allowed to operate there, citing Café Du Monde and its crowds as an example of what could happen.

“I’m not opposed to the doughnut shop having a place to sell doughnuts. ... But have you been by the doughnut shop on Jackson Square?” Lupin said. “This is another step, in my view, in the wrong direction.”

One audience member, however, countered that the location is the “perfect place” for a business such as Morning Call.

Ultimately, though, since the VCC voted to conceptually approve the project, additional design details must still be worked out before the commission will approve the final plans that will allow for the building’s construction.

If the new location is eventually built, it would be Morning Call’s third location in the metro area and would see the business return to its original neighborhood, not too far from where it first operated.

Morning Call opened in 1870. It remained on Decatur Street in the French Market, not too far from Cafe Du Monde, until it moved to a Metairie strip mall in 1974.

A second location opened earlier this year in the Casino building in City Park.