VOL. 130 | NO. 177 | Friday, September 11, 2015
Pink Diva Opens on Florida Street, New DeJaVu in Binghampton
By Madeline Faber
It all started over tacos. Three years ago, Cassi Conyers was edging into a vegan lifestyle and stopped to try the vegan tacos at DeJaVu Restaurant’s 936 Florida St. location.
Now, she’s operating her own restaurant, Pink Diva Cupcakery and Cuisine, in that same spot while DeJaVu is leaving its original location to try out a new cafeteria-style venture in Binghampton.
Cassi Conyers has opened a new restaurant, Pink Diva Cupcakery & Cuisine, at 936 Florida St., in the former DeJaVu location. The vegan restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
“The nachos on the menu are kind of an homage,” Conyers said of her favorite vegan tacos.
The move happened quickly for Conyers, who had been baking and selling her vegan cupcakes for the past year out of the Midtown Crossing Grill in the Crosstown neighborhood. She was approached about a full-service restaurant location in Collierville, but she remained unsure about entering another market.
To clear her head, she went to grab some tacos at DeJaVu’s 51 S. Main St. location. To her surprise, owner and chef Gary Williams said she could take over the lease at the 1,000-square-foot Florida Street restaurant.
“She was floored,” Williams said. “People have helped me in my life, and I wanted to help her get her store. She’s a young lady and a single parent trying to get started and has a great product.”
As a first-time business owner, Conyers was grateful to cut out the overhead by using all of DeJaVu’s equipment.
“Everything that was in the building was left in the building,” Conyers said. “I didn't have to take out a business loan to pay for equipment. All I had to do was paint over the purple walls to make it pink.”
Open since mid-August, Pink Diva makes breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert without using meat, eggs, milk or nuts. In addition to her trademark cupcakes, Conyers also sells ramen, macaroni and cheese, rotating vegetable sides, BBQ tofu nachos and fried fish sandwiches.
Williams, who always offered vegan items alongside the traditional New Orleans fare since opening DeJaVu in 2008, is pleased to see the healthy lifestyle gain speed.
“It’s totally amazing,” he said. “I never thought in a million years that so many folks would want to eat vegan and vegetarian especially in the African-American community.”
Williams decided to separate from Florida Street because of his successful spot on South Main Street, which he opened two years ago. He’s concentrating on opening a new restaurant to be dubbed Laroux by DeJaVu.
Housed at the new headquarters of United Way of the Mid-South, DeJaVu will take over the in-house catering and cafeteria for the 35,000-square-foot office at 1005 Tillman St.
“It’ll be a setup similar to the Piccadilly,” Williams said. “It will be open to the public.”
DeJaVu will serve breakfast and lunch for the 200 employees at the United Way and its nearby warehouse. By early October, Williams will be up and running with eight to 10 additional employees.
Lunch will be similar to the DeJaVu menu with “meat-and-three” plates and vegetarian and vegan options. For breakfast, Williams will prepare turkey sausage, shrimp and grits, hash browns and omelets.
Large walk-in coolers in the 3,000-square-foot kitchen will be a boon to DeJaVu’s catering business. The space also will be the home base for the DeJaVu food truck.
Whether or not tacos will make it onto Laroux by DeJaVu’s new menu remains to be decided.