Craig J. Nero - Owner and Head Chef
You might say Craig Nero was born to cook. When you grow up in a Cajun family, cooking and eating expertly prepared and perfectly seasoned Louisiana cuisine comes with the territory. At six years old, Nero was taught how to make a roux by his Grandmaw Jeanne. His natural curiosity in the kitchen led his grandfather to build a box for him so he could reach the stove and help prepare meals. He began learning about the restaurant industry early on, assisting in the kitchen at The Anchor Inn in Delcambre, Louisiana at twelve years old, and later working at other establishments in Cajun country. He always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, and as an adult, Nero devoted his creative energies into several successful business ventures. He expanded his skill set and knowledge with forays in photography, floral design, event planning and bar and restaurant management. But it was his passion for creating great cuisine that eventually pulled him back into the restaurant industry full time. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Nero came back to New Orleans where he built a reputation as a talented server, chef and businessman during his time at Bywater BBQ. In 2009, he began working at Hallowed Grounds, a fledgling neighborhood coffee shop in the Faubourg Marigny. A year later, he had helped to turn the place into a favorite stop for locals and visitors alike. When the opportunity to purchase the business presented itself in 2010, he bought it, then extensively remodeled the building, re-branded it as a coffee shop and casual dining establishment, and renamed it on March 5th, 2010 as the Who Dat Coffee Cafe. Today, the business has grown significantly, to include a full-bar and an extensive breakfast, brunch and lunch menu and both on and off-site catering as well as event planning. Chef Nero and Who Dat Coffee Cafe have built a reputation for great-tasting, affordable food, served up by people who care. Through it all, Nero's mission remains the same" "Provide delicious, high quality coffee and cuisine, always prepared with LOVE!"
Edward Pluta - Oracle of Da Marigny
Edward Pluta is known throughout the neighborhood as "The Oracle," and for good reason. He holds court each morning at Who Dat Coffee Cafe and has his finger on the pulse of anything and everything happening in the Marigny. He's always available to lend an ear, give advice and share colorful stories about his life and adventures. With a background in the medical field and finance, he offers Chef Nero and his team a lifetime of business experience so that we are growing our business in the smartest way possible.
Tim Wilkerson – Kitchen Manager, Lead Chef
Wilkerson has been with Who Dat Coffee Cafe for over two years. He grew up working in family restaurants in Mississippi and has been exploring the art of Southern cooking his entire life. His specialties are seafood dishes and his favorite challenge is to make the perfect etoufee. In addition to cooking up wonderful dishes, Tim is also a talented folk artist who paints colorful renditions of Southern life.
Shane Avrard – General Manager
Moving to NOLA from Michigan as a child, Avrard began working at Who Dat Coffee Cafe while still in high school. He's been learning about the restaurant business since then, and has worked his way up to sous chef. He enjoys working at Who Dat because it feels like a family. In addition to working with us, he is also in a great local band – The Noise Complaints. Fun Fact: He's got fancy feet – Shane took Advanced Tap in college! Now he is the GM so proud of this guy he is one hell of a human !!
Humza Al-Hinai – Server
A New Orleans native, Al-Hinai has been working at Who Dat Coffee Cafe for two years. You can find him serving and tending the coffee bar, where he will whip up an incredible macchiato and serve it up to you with witty commentary. He's also an Interior Designer, currently working to further his education in Design and Construction Management. He brings a sense of style and grace to Who Dat Coffee Cafe and in his spare time, he is an avid costumer.
Joe Pearson – Alumni Master Barista
A Mississippi native, Pearson moved to NOLA in 2012. He is known throughout the neighborhood as the happiest barista in the world, and we feel that title is fitting. Joe always has a smile on his face, and he makes the perfect cup of coffee with a little bit of love for each and every customer. When not managing the coffee bar at Who Dat Coffee Cafe, Joe can be found gardening, studying organic farming and porch-sitting with friends. Although Joe has moved to Baton Rouge to care for his family he will always be a HUGE part of the WDCC Family !!
Matthias Helfen - Alumni Master Barista
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Matthias moved to NOLA in 2009 to study urban planning at the University of New Orleans. He joined the Who Dat Coffee Cafe family 4 years ago, bringing his skill set with over 5 years experience as a barista to the table. While he has enjoyed his time in New Orleans, Matthias recently moved to Denver to further his education. But he is a Who Dat at heart, and will always be a part of our family.
Travis Hoffmann – Alumni Master Barista
A NOLA resident since 2003, Hoffmann has worked at The Who Dat Coffee Cafe location with the previous owners on and off since 2005. He makes a mean cappuccino and loves working in a fun, family atmosphere. In addition to working as a barista, Travis is also an accomplished jeweler, and you can find him on weekend nights selling his wares at the Frenchmen Art Market. Travis has since relocated and travels with an amazing lady he has fallen madly in love with. We will always have a special place for him here at the WDCC.
Shelli Clavesilla – Executive Pastry Chef
A recent transplant from Hawaii, Clavesilla came to visit NOLA and literally never left. She apprenticed with an artisan bakery in Hawaii and has also worked in the restaurant industry in her native city of Seattle. You can find a variety of cakes, muffins and sweet treats in our classic cake domes, all lovingly handcrafted by Shelli.
Renee McGee – Server/Sous Chef
McGee has spent over a decade in NOLA, and has worked in the restaurant industry most of her life. She truly enjoys her Who Dat family, and in her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her two dogs.
Danny “The Rock” Gayneaux – Kitchen Prep Chef
A native of Abbeville, LA, and long time friend of Chef Nero, Danny moved to NOLA about two years ago to assist at Who Dat Coffee Cafe. With a background in the grocery business for 35 years, he brings a unique skill set to our team. When not working in the kitchen, Danny enjoys concerts, films and all the great things New Orleans has to offer.
Ben - Kitchen Prep
Collin Avrard - Server