estralita-sonaitEstralita Soniat had been managing restaurants for over 35 years, and finally in 1991 she opened her own café in Westwego, Louisiana.  Her passion and inspiration for cooking came from the late Al Copeland, the official “Chicken King” of New Orleans, with whom she worked for many years.  He encouraged her to spread her wings and open her own restaurant and she rose to the challenge.  She has owned and operated Estralita’s Café & Carryout located at 1022 Westbank Expressway in Westwego for the past 24 years.  The café is affectionately known as “The little place with the BIG taste”.

Despite her success in Westwego, Estralita had long dreamed of opening a location in New Orleans. The expansion dream seemed distant however, with a new restaurant requiring a substantial cash investment. Then she heard about a new project by Good Work Network, Roux Carré, a incubator for food entrepreneurs.  In furtherance of its mission of supporting and growing underserved entrepreneurs, Good Work Network developed the site on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. to give emerging food entrepreneurs an opportunity to open a location without a massive capital investment.  The site hosts a shared commercial kitchen, covered outdoor seating area, five fully equipped vendor pods, a small stage, and parking.  Estralita recognized this as the opportunity she had been waiting for to grow her business.  She was one of 87 food vendors vying for the opportunity to feature their food creations at Roux Carré.  Good work Network, along with several notable local chefs and restaurant owners, selected five outstanding food entrepreneurs from the extensive list of applicants. It was no surprise to her loyal patrons that Estralita was one of the five food entrepreneurs selected.  Roux Carre’ has proven to be a unique new home for Good Work Network food entrepreneurs like Estralita.

Estralita’s experience, knowledge, and just plain good food won her one of the coveted spots at Roux Carré and Estralita’s Express opened in November 2015.  The seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, po’ boys and mini-pies are highly recommended, but you can’t go wrong with any of the home-cooked, Louisiana specialty menu items lovingly prepared daily at Estralita’s Express.  Stop by and visit Estralita at the Roux Carré soon and join us in the celebration of her realizing her dream of expanding her business. You made this possible.