What you can expect from John Besh's new Willa Jean cafe and bakery in downtown New Orleans

August 5, 2015
By: Ian McNulty, The Advocate
Photo: The Advocate

To the usual cues marking the redevelopment of downtown New Orleans — the traffic barriers, the construction equipment — there’s now a gentler, more enticing one: the aroma of fresh baked bread emanating from a new bakery and cafe, Willa Jean (611 O’Keefe Ave., 504-509-7334; willajean.com).

It pours from a kitchen vent onto a stretch of sidewalk now busier than ever with foot traffic, and on a block within a rising hub of residential addresses and retail amenities remaking what was once a barren plat of parking lots.

Willa Jean holds down one corner of the Paramount, the apartment complex that’s part of the larger South Market District development. It’s the latest from the Besh Restaurant Group, and it brings a casual, multifaceted, homey yet high-aiming approach from breakfast through dinner to a neighborhood newly abuzz with activity.

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