Dwayne Boudreaux has been at the center of the landmark Circle Food Store in the 7th Ward since he started as manager in 1987. He worked his way into a partnership with owner Herbert Gabriel and eventually took control.
Boudreaux started his grocery career in the chain stores, and hesitated a bit when offered the Circle Food Store job. But he says he quickly realized that "The Circle" was more a community institution than store. It stocked fresh food, gave young people jobs, provided low-cost school uniforms, offered a dental clinic and pharmacy. Boudreaux says the business that evolved in the St. Bernard Market of the early 1900s took such a blow from Hurricane Katrina flooding that it's still not reopened. Getting the Circle back up is now the focus of his life. In this part of a conversation recorded April 9, Boudreaux talks about the importance of the store to the community, and the pressure he's under to bring it back.
ALSO: In this extended conversation, Dwayne Boudreaux talks about taking over more than a store when he started as manager of Circle Food Store in 1987. He was in charge of maintaining a vital part of the city's history. The 7th Ward store had to evolve to provide what his customers needed, including jobs. He shares some memories of how the store provided supplies, like ironing boards and kitchen supplies, to fresh, healthy food prepared by struggling single mothers. Boudreaux talks with StoryCorps volunteer Virgina Lora.
StoryCorps New Orleans interviews were recorded by StoryCorps, a national project to record and collect stories of everyday people. This excerpt was selected and produced by WWNO producer Eileen Fleming, with support from the WWNO Productions Fund and from Villere & Co., managing the investments of New Orleans' families for almost 100 years. Listen again at wwno.org or at nola.com.