Charlotte – For decades, the folks passing by 2753 Rozzelles Ferry Road in Charlotte got a whiff of high-test gasoline from a corner service station. Now residents of Biddleville, Severville and Smallwood will catch more welcoming aromas when Toucan Louie’s Cafe and Roastery opens later this year: the scents of fresh-roasted coffee, house-made peanut butter and pimento cheese, fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, maybe a hint of Caribbean spice from the macaroni and cheese.
Owners Marc and Le Anne Kieffer, former partners in three Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurants in Charlotte, have put a 1950s-style sign out front for nostalgia’s sake. But everything about the menu and approach comes from the 21st century.
Toucan Louie’s uses local suppliers when possible: dairy products from Wholesome Country Creamery in Hamptonville, peanuts from Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts in Enfield, candy from Iva Jean’s Fudge in Waxhaw. When the owners look beyond North Carolina, they work with all-natural companies such as Oakland’s OCHO Candy or Massachusetts-based VerMints. All containers, utensils, straws, cups and bags will be compostable.
Your taste buds will be as satisfied as your social conscience. Ingredients in the cold-pressed juices range from blueberry to beet to carrot to ginger; a long list of smoothies ends in the Toucan Fog-Lifter, which blends house-made peanut butter, banana, espresso, honey, almond milk and cinnamon. Breakfast ranges from a spinach-mushroom-goat cheese sandwich to house-made granola to a vegan coconut congee. (That’s millet cooked in coconut milk and topped with maple sweet potatoes and chopped pistachios.)
Lunch also tempers the familiar with the exotic. You’ll get Cuban or Caribbean pork sandwiches, a grilled-cheese sandwich that throws Gouda and Havarti into the mix, a Caribbean jerk chicken salad with coconut, dried cherries and toasted almonds. Even side dishes avoid the mainstream, from a fresh fruit bowl with lavender and lemon to a pineapple-mint jicama slaw. The best news may be that items offered in the café will be available for take-home dining, from peanut butter and honey to meats, breads and other locally made products.
“I think we’ve found the perfect spot to revitalize a cool, old building and provide a business sorely needed in the neighborhood. I have grown to love this neighborhood and see why there is so much growth and redevelopment here. People and businesses looking for an affordable neighborhood, so close to uptown Charlotte, are finding it a great place to live and do business,” explains owner Marc Kieffer on opening Toucan Louie’s on Rozzelles Ferry Road.
Activity in the neighborhood includes the redevelopment of The Savona Mill, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings being added, and the greenway will soon connect uptown Charlotte all the way to the Whitewater Center.
Toucan Louie’s, which sits across the street from Greenway Business Park, will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. when they open later this year. And if you’re wondering where the name comes from, here’s the answer: The Kieffers used to read the book Toucan Can!, a favorite, heartwarming story of theirs to their children, about always trying your best. And the Louie part? Well that’s in honor of the family dog, who they adopted a few years ago.