Grieving mother opens restaurant in murdered teen's honor
BATON ROUGE - A smiling child is the face of Joe's Grill on West State Street, at the former location of Louie's Cafe.
Lekiedra Coleman opened the restaurant earlier this month for her son, Joe.
"He used to always be in the kitchen with me. His favorite thing to make was hamburgers. He used a whole thing of ground meat for his hamburger," Coleman said.
But the 17-year-old it's named after will never get to set foot inside.
"87 times. The detective told me he had to stop counting. That's how many. He had to stop counting," Coleman said.
That's how many times the car Joe and his friend were in was shot at back in March on Essen Lane. Joe Coleman didn't make it.
"My baby was only 17. He was sweet. He was kind. March 7 took everything from me."
Leikdra found herself lost. Not knowing how to move on, until the opportunity to rent this space opened up.
"I said I'mma just do it for my son and for his son."
Not only did a mother lose her son, but a son lost his father. Joe Coleman had an infant, Rylan.
It's a trend becoming all too common among teens in our community. The East Baton Rouge district attorney said violent crimes involving teenagers are spiking this year, and this mother saw it firsthand.
"The most scariest thing is I watched two of my friends bury their sons for the same thing. Gun violence, gun violence, gun violence. It's not fair to us mothers. It's not fair."
Now, she's doing what she can to fix it. This restaurant is her first step, and it starts with helping heal her heart.
Joe is everywhere: In the logo, on the menu, and especially in the hamburgers.
"The restaurant motivates me. It reminds me so much of him, the colors, the burgers. We make my burgers just like he made them, 100-percent ground beef."
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