A Place to Cook: Codey’s NOLA to be the first commissary kitchen of its kind in New Orleans
Food entrepreneur is the latest buzzword in the food industry. Simply put, it’s a person with passion, skill and business savvy who starts their own food-related business. It could be someone who creates a unique meal kit or bakes a one-of-a-kind cheesecake. It could also be someone who serves from a food truck or opens a niche catering company. Any self-employed restaurant manager could be considered a food entrepreneur.
During our recent trying times, the food and restaurant industry has been clambering to reinvent itself, and food entrepreneurs are jumping in to address some of those challenges.
Locally, one chef, Sinnidra Taylor, is doing exactly that. She, along with a board of advisors, have created Codey’s NOLA, an 1,800-square-foot, food-centered marketplace. It will also be the first commissary kitchen of its kind in New Orleans.
“Codey’s will be a space that embodies the culture of community, reciprocity and innovation,” said Taylor. “And will showcase chefs of New Orleans who’ve been working in some of the top New Orleans restaurants.”
While traveling in 2017, Taylor discovered and fell in love with a Hong Kong-style waffle. Less than a year after her experience, she launched Crazy Waffle Bar. She has been working as a food entrepreneur ever since. Taylor believes that her background in business, community service, advocacy and education play a significant role in her current endeavor.
“The totality of my life experiences equipped me for a future in leadership,” she said. “My love for food and avid desire to advance my communities through service and philanthropy led to the idea of this larger concept. Codey’s NOLA is a safe space that empowers food entrepreneurs through access to commercial kitchen space and business resources.”
Codey’s is located in the Hoffman Triangle, an area between Broad and Washington and Toledano and Martin Luther King. Much of the area is currently going through a long-awaited revitalization.
“This community has been overlooked for many years,” said Taylor, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. “One of the ways Codey’s will be an anchor point to the community will be giving neighbors walkable access to a place selling fresh and affordable foods. Currently, there aren’t many locations for residents to walk to.”
The idea for Codey’s came from the need to address the barriers faced as a New Orleans food entrepreneur.
“Covid-19 magnified those obstacles, as many food entrepreneurs scrambled to hold on to their businesses as forced lockdowns made it increasingly difficult to reach customers,” Taylor says. “Businesses with storefronts struggled. Can you imagine what those, like caterers, without storefronts faced?”
The organization’s advisory board includes chefs, bakers and food entrepreneurs, and Taylor has also been hosting events and getting feedback from countless other entrepreneurs.
“The space is currently designed to serve up to 16 food entrepreneurs in a 24-hour period at max capacity,” Taylor said. “We are intentional about being an inclusive environment in order to address the needs of the various types of culinary artists.”
One of the participants is the owner of the bakery Batterina, JoAnna Euraque.
“I think Codey’s will be a place where respected culinary professionals can come and not only develop their own skills, but learn even more skills,” says Euraque. “I think it will give us a chance to produce more product and reach more customers.”
Folashade Lateef, owner of Fluffyfruitastic, is another participant who will be selling her fruity alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages.
“I also want to give vegans guilt-free products to enjoy,” Lateef said. “Most bars and restaurants use products made with refined sugars that contain animal bone char. The bone char is what makes sugar white.”
Taylor’s goal is to raise $250,000 to aid in completing construction and outfitting the building with kitchen equipment. The effort will also help with the reduction of debt, thereby keeping rents affordable. She hopes to begin construction within the next couple of months.
“We are currently operating outside of the building, hosting pop-ups,” Taylor said. “Fundraising allows us to avoid passing on the cost of capital to entrepreneurs. This building will be home to the types of culinary artists sought out for the most authentic flavors of New Orleans. Many of these individuals have been tucked away in the kitchens of big-name restaurants and have hustled plates as side jobs. But it’s time for the underdogs of the industry to scale up and flourish. “
As a poignant sidenote, Codey’s is named after Codey Taylor, Sinnidra’s cousin.
“He was an amazing talent who fell through the cracks of the mental health and juvenile justice systems,” Taylor said. “It often troubles me that he never was able to reach his potential. He was an amazing, fun-loving person and artist. I wanted to honor him. We’re only at the beginning of this campaign and it’s already bringing me joy hearing his name uttered from so many mouths. He essentially went his entire life being overlooked and unseen. I hope that he’s looking down, feeling pleased with the work I have set out to accomplish under this namesake.”
The vision of Codey’s is to create and cultivate a space for food entrepreneurs and eaters alike that will bring the creativity of New Orleans’ best food entrepreneurs to the bellies of locals and tourists alike. Codey’s will support the advancement of culinary artists by creating a space that embodies a culture of community, reciprocity, and innovation.
How can readers help?
They are currently fundraising for Phase 1 of Codey’s buildout. All funds raised will be used to outfit the commercial kitchen with the needed appliances. If readers would like to donate to help accomplish this, they would be grateful for any donation.
Readers can also share Codey’s story through their social media platforms to get the word out to communities near and far. Its Instagram is @CodeysNola, Facebook @CodeysNola, and its website is www.codeysnola.com
How can businesses help?
Businesses can get in touch with them if they’re interested in working out of the kitchen. They can fill out the form here. They are also open to businesses introducing them to community partners who may be interested in investing in Codey’s build out, and community partners who would be interested in investing in its programming. They’d love to hear from any and all collaboration initiatives.