By Marielle Songy, Mid-City Messenger
Froot Orleans has settled into a brick-and-mortar home across from the park where it started out as a fruit stand offering fresh blends and bowls created on-site.
When I referred to Froot Orleans as a business, owner Mannie King quickly corrected me. He prefers to call Froot Orleans a service. He considers it his mission to provide healthy food options to the community.
Froot Orleans, now at 2438 Bell St. in the Bayou Road area, got its start in 2014, when King set up shop in the park across from Pagoda Café and later outside of bars, churches and other neighborhood spots.
He wanted to easily get his fresh fruit to the people who needed it most. King briefly held a spot inside Circle Food Mart before the food court was shuttered, and now King has his own shop next to Leo’s Bread on Bell Street. He opened in February.
King’s fruit parlor is set up to create fresh boards, salads, smoothies, juices and bowls in a format that he describes as buffet-style. Aside from the freshness of the fruit, the secret to King’s success is customization: Customers can build their bowl however they like.
“People walk in and we have different varieties of fruit, and we chop it up and prepare it in front of them,” he said.
King’s inspiration is rooted in inspiring youth and setting an example of how they can provide for their community.
“The youth organization I was working with was about influencing young people into becoming entrepreneurs,” he said. “I started off with showing them how to prepare watermelon. From there, it went on to pineapples and then we added kiwis. The business was built from there.”
King’s creations now include a choice of pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, grapes, mango, cantaloupe and honey dew melon.
Inspired to give back to his community, King employs young people at his stand, teaching them the ins and outs of the service. He hopes to empower the next generation of business owners into making their own way.
“Working with the youth is why we do this,” he said.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For delivery or curbside pickup, order 30 minutes in advance.