Pagoda Cafe was established in 2013 by Dan Etheridge & Shana Sassoon. The pagoda roofed building took on many lives before Dan & Shana purchased it. It has been a laundromat, a record store, and an incense shop before being transformed into the cafe that we know today. Eventually, Shana Sassoon became the sole owner of Pagoda Cafe.
Pagoda Café is now local worker-owned cooperative café offering delicious food, made with love. In December 2022, we proudly transferred from single ownership to worker ownership with the help of Cooperation New Orleans. This makes us one of the few worker-owned cooperatives in the area.
We are located on the historic Bayou Road, in the 7th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. Bayou Road is the oldest street in New Orleans. It dates back to over 300 years ago, and was used as a portage route between Bayou St John and the Mississippi River. Originally, this path was traveled by Native Americans. As the French arrived, the indigenous people introduced this path to the settlers, in which Bayou Road became a trade center. Bayou Road became the heart in which the city of New Orleans came into fruition. Over time and change, Bayou Road is now a place dominated by thriving black owned businesses.
Our mission is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment, where our team can receive livable wages in return for putting our hearts into our food and service. We want to contribute to our community by serving fresh, quality food made in-house.
Meet the Members
My name is Bri and I’ve been working at Pagoda since 2018. I never had the intention of being part owner of Pagoda. One day Shana called me while I was working for a dental laboratory in Mid-City and asked me if I was interesting in being a part of the co op transition. After working for a dentist for about 6 months, I quickly realized that a dental lab was not an ideal work space for me. I became more interested in learning about worker-ownership, and opening my own dental lab. Long story short, I took up on Shana’s offer, and didn’t look back. I wanted to partake in more serious roles like administration, and learning all the ins and outs of running a business. I’m now co owner of Pagoda Co-op LLC, and I’m also part owner of Gemini Tooth Gemz. Pagoda is the one place I’ve worked in this city that made me never want to work at another cafe. I care so much about the well-being of this business and its long time employees that are now my co-business owners. This place is special, and I’m lucky to be a part of the ride.
Hi, my name is Arielle Coleman and I am 26 years old. I started at Liberty's Kitchen. When I found out about Pagoda, I started my externship during my last week at Liberty's Kitchen. I liked Pagoda & I knew I wanted to work there in 2018. I was offered the co-op position from Shana during Covid times and quickly accepted. I became a manager in 2021. I have now been here for five years, it’s like my second home and also my safe place. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to do something I love with the people I love.
Hi! My name is Quest (they/them or she/her), I am 27 years old and a life-long coffee and tea enthusiast! I grew up in St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes and graduated from Covington High School. I moved to New Orleans in 2015 and have a decade of customer service experience. I am passionate about activism and building strong community bonds. I am a cofounder of Real Name Campaign, a local LGBTQ-rights organization and have been a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization since 2019. Pagoda is my favorite job I've had because I get to interact with and serve so many lovely community members alongside coworkers who treat each other as real humans, in one of the coolest environments around town.
My name is Brandon, I was born and raised in New Orleans. I started noticing I love cooking around the age of 17. I started at Liberty's Kitchen in 2015, and graduated then got a job cooking for 1500 students. I didn’t return the next year so I started looking for another job. I came across Pagoda Cafe, which recently had just opened up. I got an interview and it went well. Shana and Dan, the co-founders of Pagoda, treated me very well and showed me lots of loyalty. So I've been here for 9 years. I was an employee for 5 years, and a manager for 4. Then Ida came, and Shana wanted to sell the place. I didn’t like the idea so we came up with the co-op. Long story short, Shana sold the place to us and now we are a co-op. I love working with the team I got, Pagoda is my family.
My name is Claire Morgan, I grew up in the woods outside of Baton Rouge. My grammaw always loved to cook everyone good food, and after years of training in restaurants all over the place, I came to Pagoda in 2018 to do the same for the Bayou Road community. I'm honored to now co-own Pagoda Cafe with some of my closest friends and to continue providing good food in our beautiful city.
My name is Nikkie. I love Dj, Neima, coffee, coffee shops and people. I grew my passion for taking care of my community through my first serving job at Waffle House, where I learned how to get it right the first time. Over the years, I have held a host of hospitality jobs: in bartending, serving and managerial roles. I started at Pagoda in Fall of 2014 as a cashier. I moved away for a few years, but I always carried Pagoda near and dear to my heart. When I moved back, I knew I had to get back to Pagoda. Shana told me that the place was transitioning into a worker-owner model and that I could be a part after 6 months in. I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so I put in the work. I enjoy seeing the returning, and relatively happy customers. I love this place and my co-owners. Pagoda is truly a once in a lifetime place.