Life Support for Live Oak: Save a Café that Cares
As many other aspects of life in the US are returning to normal, Live Oak Cafe is just one among many independent restaurants across the nation that are still in a fight to survive.
However, Live Oak is more to us than a business or a place to eat,it is a pillar of the community that honors and contributes to the culture of New Orleans. It is a space that feels like home, where all are welcome, where musical and culinary creativity meet up and thrive.
The Cafe has made its music program as integral to its concept as the quality of the food, featuring a live act during every single service since opening in 2014. Clare Leavy, the chef/owner, has made it her mission to partner with musicians and her employees to pay both a living wage, and give back to the community whenever possible.
During some of 2020’s darkest days, as the world reacted to the murder of George Floyd, Clare facilitated a live stream series “Sounds of Solidarity,” inviting local artists to process the moment through music, while raising money for organizations such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Butterfly Project, The Power Coalition and Black Lives Matter. Musicians who participated had meals delivered to their homes by volunteers (or Clare herself,) and volunteers were fed as well.
For most of the Pandemic, Live Oak found a survival path that minimized the risk of staff Covid exposure and helped those in need, keeping the dining room closed and partnering with Chef’s Brigade to cook over 30,000 meals for the City of New Orleans’ Mass Feeding Initiative.
In August of 2021 the Delta surge in Louisiana thwarted the scheduled reopening of Live Oak’s dining room and launch of dinner service. Just a few weeks later, Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans. Clare kept cooking in the dark as her freezer thawed and fed the community for donation only. When the power came back on Oak Street and most of the city was still in the dark, she continued to cook, give out bags of ice and offer a place for people to charge their electronics. No one was turned away.
Live Oak has experienced continual business interruptions and challenges since Ida, without the resources available to larger restaurants. Our fundraising goal represents the revenue and inventory lost due to Omicron in December 2021 & Jan 2022, and would be enough to build a bridge to business recovery for Live Oak Cafe.
If you see the value we do in Live Oak Cafe, please give what you can to help them continue. You can also help other businesses like them by urging your senators to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. #saverestaurants
Friends of Live Oak Cafe
From the Community:
“It's hard to express what the Live Oak Cafe community means to me. It's a place to create music, soothe the soul with conversation and impeccably crafted food, and enjoy one of the last vestiges of old school New Orleans neighborhood kindness. Musical friendships evolve that bridge generations, backgrounds, and stances. A spirit of good faith, family, and loyalty is rich. It is a unique microcosm that I treasure, and love as my home away from home.” - Katarina Boudreaux
“Live Oak Cafe has been a local oasis for musicians like me some years now. I always feel at home playing their intimate stage. It's like playing for family. The food is some of the best in the city, and Clare always comes through for our community--like keeping folks fed through the height of the pandemic. I encourage you to donate whatever you can to keep this local treasure alive! “ - Joy Clark
“Clare's investment in a continuous live music program at Live Oak, her small restaurant, which was strictly a breakfast place for most of its existence, is extraordinary. So honored to be part of her crew of musicians!”-Marc Stone
“The Live Oak Cafe has brought much joy to this old man. Decades of performing for audiences has left me longing for the intimacy that this tiny venue provides, and the opportunity to entertain families, including youngsters. What a joy is it to directly approach a table and touch their hearts with music! It is a space in which lesser known but talented players feel free to shine & give their best. The Live Oak Cafe is a creative cauldron in which multiple inventives shine in their unique ways. Come stir the pot.” -Tom Collins
“The Live Oak Cafe is a magical place where folks from all walks of life come for delicious freshly prepared food that is full of love. After a time away from New Orleans, I’ve come back to cry happy tears eating their phenomenal shrimp and grits. It’s a place where music delights, and the love of the community is never far away.” - Nanci Zee
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Organizer and beneficiary
New Orleans, LA