They’re the true jewels of the city. The places where you can buy a whole meal for under ten dollars, where their weekly and daily specials are truly special and not just left over whatever that didn’t get used from the weekend before, and most importantly the food is bomb and made with love. Small Mart is one of these places.
Change is coming for the beloved Quarter convenient store and cafe. After finding out the landlord was selling the building, owner Bryant Wilms had no choice but to giddy up and go. Making a hop skip and a jump from its current location at 1303 Decatur Street to the former home of Bao and Noodle at 2700 Chatres Street sometime in January, Small Mart’s last day on Decatur is Christmas Eve. New location, new menu items, and new name to boot, Small Mart Vegetarian Café.
Originally from New York City, Wilms credits his culinary skills to his hometown for exposing him to a melting pot of cuisines. “When I was a teen I was inspired by veganism politically. I was involved in vegan potlucks in New York, it was all very community oriented, very grassroots.” His family originated from Brazil and Bryant got to spend time on a farm in South America during his childhood. Bryant’s mother fell ill at an early age, which forced the family to change their diet and eat healthier, making him very aware at a young age the positive effects of a plant-based lifestyle.
I asked Bryant what he thinks of the new wave of mainstream veganism. “I think what’s happening now is an answer to prayers of the past. It’s very accessible. Before it was like I had to defend what I ate.” Small Mart staples like the $1 Brazilian coffee and $6 bowls of curry will stick around. Wilms is also extending food service hours until 8 p.m. instead of 6. Hallelujah.
It’s a little more food, but still a little mart. “There will be a convenience store component but it’ll all be a little more tailored and streamlined.” He’s genuine, calm, optimistic, and wants nothing more to share his passion with the community. “It’s quality food that’s made thoughtfully at an accessible price. Everyone is equal and welcome.” Stay tuned for the evolution of Small Mart Vegetarian Café, and follow @smallmart on Instagram.