by Mike Knaak
A New Orleans-style Cajun/Creole restaurant is coming to St. Joseph this spring in the 24 North Lofts building under construction on College Avenue.
The restaurant, Krewe, will feature a locally sourced farm-to-table menu and full bar.
Krewe is owned by Mateo Mackbee and Erin Lucas who also own The Model Citizen, a farm-to-table teaching restaurant in New London.
In addition to the restaurant, the 100-year-old Loso building behind the restaurant is being renovated into a Scandinavian/French walk-up bakery that will make pasties and breads for both restaurants and for public sale.
24 North Lofts, owned by Jon Petters and Gustavo Pena, includes 17 residential lofts and is across the street from the old city hall now being renovated by Bad Habit Brewing.
Petters called Krewe “the shining star of downtown St. Joseph” that also includes other dining and entertainment businesses such as Bad Habit, Bello Cucina, Gary’s Pizza, Sliced and Bo Diddley’s.
Lucas, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, New York, is known for her fruit and custard pies and for featuring vegetables in her dishes.
Mackbee grew up in Minnesota but spent childhood summers in his mother’s hometown of New Orleans experiencing Creole-style food.
“Erin came up with that name,” Mackbee said. It comes from an old English word that found its way to the Creole language.
“The idea behind the name is a group of people who will come together collectively to make something beautiful and present it,” Mackbee said.
Right now the space still has dirt floors and exposed utilities but the duo described what the finished space will look like.
“As you walk in the building, we’ll trans(port) you to New Orleans,” Lucas said. “The goal is to have a living wall which would be all greenery plants, brass copper, jazz instruments, chandeliers, velvet. It’s going to be gorgeous. And you’re going to hopefully be transported straight to New Orleans.”
The restaurant includes a stage and Lucas and Mackbee hope to partner with regional and national musicians to complete the New Orleans transformation.
Petters showed off one of eight handmade gas lanterns that will be installed on the building’s exterior.
While Lucas and Mackbee shared some samples of the menu items, Petters conducted a short tour of lofts on the building’s second and third floors. He said six of the 17 units are still available.
Each one features large windows looking out on private balconies above College Avenue.
Petters expects the lofts will be ready for occupants in the early spring.