Morning Call has a rich history in New Orleans. Joseph Jurisch started the business in 1870 with the original location at the lower end of the French Market.
In 1974, Morning Call moved to Metairie, near Lakeside Shopping Center; however, that location was recently closed due to increased competition from nearby coffee shops.
Over the last six years, the focus of the Morning Call business has been in City Park. Co-owners Bob and Mike Hennessey have done a remarkable job of revitalizing the area. Morning Call has sponsored successful WTIX-FM concerts, hosted well attended Home Defense Foundation meetings, and welcomed countless tour buses to their City Park location.
As thanks for helping to revitalize City Park, Morning Call has now lost their lease and competitor Café Du Monde will take over their facility in approximately two months. The new operator will receive a 10 year lease, while benefitting from all of the improvements made by Morning Call.
City Park officials showed no appreciation to Morning Call for the transformation that occurred at the Casino Building. In fact, it seems like park officials were trying to find a reason to award the new lease to Café Du Monde.
According to City Park management, the owners of Morning Call missed a mandatory pre-bid meeting, so they were officially disqualified. Bob Hennessey was unable to attend due to a family medical emergency, but his brother, Mike, did try to make an appearance. He was 15 minutes late; arriving right after the brief meeting was abruptly ended.
If Morning Call was disqualified by missing the brief meeting, why was their bid accepted? When the bids were opened, Morning Call offered the most lucrative deal to City Park. It should be incumbent upon park officials to accept the deal that will generate the most money for taxpayers; however, the second place bidder was awarded the contract instead. The reason given by park officials was that the pre-bid meeting was missed.
In the aftermath of losing the lease, Bob Hennessey said that “We’re not too happy with that decision. It’s just really feeling like we didn’t get a fair deal.” It seems pretty clear that the decision was not a fair deal for not only the patrons and owners of Morning Call, but also for the taxpayers of Louisiana.
Hopefully, Morning Call owners will examine their all of their legal options as it certainly seems they have a strong case that can be made.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]