Sita La’Cap remembers riding her bike as a child, past the two-story stucco building at 124 Lameuse St.
“I always wanted to live in it,” she said. Today, you might say she does. Her restaurant, Le Cafe Beignet, has moved from its previous location on Rue Magnolia to about a block from U.S. 90, at the corner of Lameuse and Water streets.
The iconic Spanish Colonial revival building was designed by architect Carl Emil Matthes of Biloxi and was built in 1924-25 as the second home of the Biloxi Public Library. Note the wise owl sitting in the cartouche above the front door’s full entablature and the books flanking the half-circle window above the front door.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a Mississippi Landmark.
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Most recently, it housed offices for some of the city’s administration employees. If the twin flights of steps to the main floor are daunting, there’s an elevator on the ground floor.
Customers can enjoy dining at small café tables outside or inside, where classic architecture and original wood floors are the backdrop for breakfast and lunch. Much of the menu has remained the same — a morning sandwich, shrimp and grits, veggie quiche and other breakfast specialties, and salads, wraps and sandwiches for lunch, as well as coffee, lattes and hot tea. But La’Cap has added a few items.
“Of course, I still have the beignets. I use my great-grandmother’s beignet recipe. And our coffee we serve is with chicory. And I have added a few things, such as the Spicy Seafood Omelette and the South Mouth,” she said.
The Spicy Seafood Fromage Omelette includes shrimp, lump crabmeat, spinach, portabello mushroom, colby Jack and Gruyere cheeses topped with scallions and remoulade sauce. The South Mouth is a sandwich featuring London broil topped with grilled bell pepper, portabello and onion, melted with three-pepper colby Jack drizzled with remoulade in warm ciabatta bread.
Moving into the historic building was a dream come true for La’Cap.
“I grew up on this street, so it means a lot to me. This is my hometown,” she said. “And this is becoming downtown Biloxi’s newest restaurant row. I’ve seen what downtown Biloxi can be. I was here a long time before Katrina, and it’s exciting to see what Biloxi is becoming.”
Her background is in banking, but her interest in preserving Biloxi’s fascinating past led her to open the restaurant first in the cottage on Rue Magnolia that previously held a toy train store.
“And the love of my grandmother’s beignets,” she added with a smile. “So I quit banking and put all my attention into the restaurant. Basically, I put myself through my own little restaurant school.”
Now, she’s going to expand her knowledge even more.
“I’ve obtained the bottom level here, and I’ll be opening The Prohibition, with culinary small plates and a bar and an outdoor band,” she said. “We’ll serve Prohibition-era drinks.”
She’s planning to open The Prohibition “some time in June.”