Dining Family Style

The owners of Addis NOLA Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine and Cultural Hub welcome diners into their family and culture

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Addis NOLA Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine and Cultural Hub
2514 Bayou Road
addisnola.com //  @addisnola


When Biruk, Jaime and Prince Lobo opened Addis NOLA Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine and Cultural Hub four years ago, word spread fast about the delicious and authentic food.

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According to the company’s website, “the name Addis comes from the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and translates to ‘new flower.’ Connecting these two cities together, Addis Ababa and NOLA, you get Addis NOLA, a New NOLA.”

After growing their fanbase at the original location on Broad Street in Mid-City, the family business relocated to Bayou Road. The new iteration is an immersion in, and celebration of, Ethiopian culture brought to fruition via the owners, along with the creative talents of Nomita Joshi-Gupta and Sara Lee Walsh of Nomita Joshi Interior Design and BOA of OI Studio.

General manager Prince Lobo and designer Joshi-Gupta shared with Biz New Orleans their vision for Addis’ second incarnation and its striking, experiential design.

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What were the design team’s goals and why?

Nomita Joshi-Gupta: There were three goals for this project: to represent the food and culture of Ethiopia in an elevated modern language, to employ local designers, artists and artisans and to create the cornerstone of Ethiopian community life in the restaurant.

Unlike in most African countries, Ethiopian art, clothing and decoration is monochromatic and subdued. We used the imagery and inspiration [of Ethiopia] to come up with our color scheme and elements. We chose lighting made from natural materials, [such as] jute, rattan and burlap.

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The owners of Addis are deeply connected with their community, and they wanted to employ and engage local artists and artisans for this project. We were very excited to work with local muralist Ken Schexnayder, who decorated the columns with traditional patterns. She painted the logo mural for the exterior, as well as on the interior at the coffee ceremony space. We worked closely with BOA of OI Studio, who designed the traditional gojo bets, which are huts that are a cornerstone of community life in Ethiopia. The owners wanted to recreate the traditional coffee ceremony. They wanted to create a space for the coffee ceremony, which involves roasting green beans all the way to brown roast, grinding, and serving coffee accompanied with ritual chanting and music.

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Three “gogo bets” (red velvet seating areas) designed by BOA of OI Studio and installed on site by Thomas Edick design, are “the most coveted seats in the restaurant,” said Joshi-Gupta.

What was the biggest design challenge?

Joshi-Gupta: The shape of the building. Working with a triangular floor plan to space plan all the seating, the bar, the three gojo bets, the coffee ceremony stage, a handwashing area, a casual seating area. [There] were so many client asks… we had to find ample space to house all of these. The building had outdated electrical so we had to rewire the entire space to accommodate lighting. With a lot of planning and redrawing we were able to accommodate all the owners’ needs.

What is the standout feature of the design?

Joshi-Gupta: The three gojo bets built in collaboration with OI Studio. They are three semicircular pods or booths made from wood and upholstered in a luscious red velvet fabric. They have roofs covered in thatch that take you straight back to the motherland. Pendant lights hang over each booth adorned with paintings of women in their traditional garb. Light, sheer curtains hang between each to offer a sense of privacy. These beautiful pods were designed by BOA of OI Studio and installed on site by Thomas Edick design and our upholsterers. They are the most coveted seats in the restaurant!

How would you describe Addis Nola and its customer base?

Prince Lobo: Addis NOLA connects our beautiful city to another part of the world. Those who are explorers looking for their next best experience or those familiar with global cuisine are typically the clientele we host the most.

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According to designer Joshi-Gupta, goals for the space were to represent the food and culture of Ethiopia, employ local designers and artists and “create the cornerstone of Ethiopian life in the restaurant.”

How do you set yourselves apart from others doing similar work in the restaurant industry?

Prince Lobo: In our case, only a handful of people do what we do, which makes it much more special. It’s rare and authentic to who we are as people; I believe it’s one of the only places like it in the world.

How do you promote a positive work atmosphere for the staff?

Prince Lobo: Prioritizing ourselves and our well-being first. We are a family and want everyone in our space to feel as such. We deal with each other in a kind and genuine manner that creates an environment of care for each and every person in our space.

What are your biggest challenges?

Prince Lobo: The hardest part of running a business will always be managing the books. You live and die by them; no matter how good things can look in one moment, they can be gone in the next day without proper handling.

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“I believe it’s one of the only places like it in the world,” said General Manager Prince Lobo of Addis NOLA’s new location, which started serving customers Nov. 10, 2022.

Quick Look

Number of years in operation
4
Date of opening new location
Nov. 7, 2023
Square footage
2,000
Number of Employees
14
Persons in charge
Jaime Lobo, chef; Prince Lobo, general manager; Biruk Lobo, founder
Interior designers
Nomita Joshi-Gupta and Sarah Lee Walsh of Nomita Joshi Interior Design and BOA of OI Studio

 

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