The Capital City takes great pride in its local restaurants and businesses. Owner of Leola’s Café and Coffee House, LeAnn Ringe, has worked passionately with her husband Corey to create this one-of-a-kind brunch spot. Paired with a welcoming environment, this restaurant is perfect for all ages to enjoy right in the heart of Mid City. Read on as LeAnn talks about all things Leola’s and its new ventures. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with this hidden gem, just like we did!
Visit Baton Rouge: What was the inspiration when creating the concept for Leola’s?
LeAnn Ringe: It is a combination of my husband's dream of a coffee place, which is where the name Leola’s Café and Coffee House came from. It really warped into more of the brunch and cocktail place where we wanted it to feel like you're on vacation when you're here. The menu is derived from different menu items that my husband and I have experienced across the country—items that we've tried, loved and then modified to fit our tastes. We wanted to offer different, unique breakfast and lunch items. You can't just go a block down the street and get the same flavors you could get here at Leola’s.
VBR: Y’all are well known for your charcuterie-style brunch boards. How did those come to be?
LR: So the brunch board stems from my interest in charcuterie, but that is more of an afternoon or evening type of offering. I wanted to adapt it to something that would work for brunch-goers. I started looking at what items on a charcuterie board could be placed on the boards earlier in the day. We decided to put our briskets on there since it's an ingredient on some other menu items. It gives people a chance to see what our brisket tastes like, and then maybe they go order the brisket breakfast burrito. We modeled everything as a sampling to give you a little taste of different items on our menu.
VBR: Other than the brunch boards, can you tell me a little bit about your other unique menu items?
LR: My husband and I were in Colorado, and we stopped at a local brunch chain that made pancake flights, so we tried it out. We decided, “We can do this, but we can totally take this to the next level.” So, now we have pancakes that we make from scratch every weekend, along with rotating flavors. Our general manager, my husband and I work together to decide the flavors. We try to make a fruity pancake, a sweet pancake and a savory one. If there is a holiday, we will make it all festive for that holiday. It's just fun.
VBR: Another thing y’all are known for is having live music on the weekends. What made you decide to incorporate live music events at Leola’s?
LR: I worked at a restaurant and bar through college that had live music, and I just always loved going to work. I loved the regulars that came along with that music crowd. I loved everything about it. The same idea of when you come [in for live music], you're escaping for a little bit—escaping everything else going on in your life... I also wanted a place where kids could go listen to music, and there are only a few places that do a really good job with that here. There are kids on our patio every weekend, and I love it.
VBR: You’re also the owners of the newly opened Aliye Belle’s Snowballs. Would you tell us about how that came to be?
LR: Yes, recently we opened a snowball stand, Aliye Belle’s Snowballs, in memory of Aliye. Our oldest child, my husband's daughter, Aliye passed away in December in a tragic car accident on her way home from work here at Leola’s. So we’ve been going through that, but we wanted to have something as a memory for her. Before she passed away, there was a different trailer we were secretly trying to get for her as something that she could manage and call her own, but it didn’t work out. Aliye worked in snowball stands for five years through high school, so she really knew how to do it. But we didn't want to get her hopes up until we knew we could do it, so we never told her. Then this February, I was like, “You know, we could do it for her still, even though she can't be here for it.” So we drove all the way to Alabama for this little pink, mobile home that was a decked-out, cute little house. It took about a month to pull everything out of it and transform it into a snowball stand—it’s the cutest thing. We went down to New Orleans and got a real snowball machine. We bring out big kids Jenga sets and Connect Four when we have events. It creates another space where kids can roam and let the parents take a breather—so that's important.
VBR: What would you like VBR readers to know about Leola’s and Aliye Belle’s?
LR: Our goal is to make locals feel like they're stepping away and going on vacation, but also to be the vacation spot that visitors come to because they want somewhere to escape. Every time we go somewhere the first thing I start Googling is “brunch in Colorado,” “brunch in Chicago” or wherever we are. I want to be one of the places that visitors see, read the reviews, and think, “This is the place to go.” There is live music, great morning cocktails, pancake flights and more. We're going to try to make visitors fall in love with the city, the way that we love the city.
LeAnn’s love for the Capital City and dedication to creating a relaxing escape for the people and visitors of Baton Rouge is truly admirable. Go check out any of Leola’s menu items next time you #ExploreBatonRouge.