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After the game 225BATONROUGE .COM

Former athletes are now local business and community leaders

F E AT U R I N G : Matt Flynn + former athletes like Pete Bush, Artie Varnado, Darry Beckwith Jr. and Jenni Peters

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• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329




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Top of their game


BATON ROUGE IS a sports town, through and through. It’s the kind of place where athletes become household names. As we watch local sports stars from our stadium seats or from booths at local watering holes, we go through all the emotions with them. We feel the redemptive, soaring high of a win, the crushing blow of an unexpected loss, and the adrenaline of a match’s final pivotal, game-clinching moments. We cheer for them, and we mourn alongside them. And then the seasons change, and there are new athletes to root for. What happens to these athletes after they exit the game field? Actually, quite a lot. Many of those sports stars choose to stick around in Baton Rouge—and make a different kind of impact on the city. You’ll meet several of them in our cover story. This month, we’ve profiled local former athletes who have started their own ventures. Pete Bush and Mike Papajohn were both on LSU’s first College World Series team. Today, Bush runs Horizon Financial Group, a successful business he built from scratch. Papajohn went down a completely different path, finding his calling as an actor, stuntman and director in the film industry. Former LSU champion and NFL quarterback Matt Flynn’s MyHy hydration beverage business has taken off. Former Southern University football player Keith Tillage’s Tillage Construction Company is one of the nation’s fastest growing Black-owned construction companies. Artie Varnado broke record after record when she played soccer at LSU, and now she’s building a new legacy: her Finley & Co. business, a line of handbags and products for mothers. And we all know Jenni Peters as the owner of Varsity Sports. But before that, she qualified for Olympic Trials and won multiple marathons.

Yes, life has been a marathon for all of them, as well as the other athletes featured in our cover story. But they have one thing in common: Each athlete told us that the sports world uniquely prepared them for success in the business world. As Matt Flynn puts it: “I know that I might not see results immediately, but if I can work harder than my competition, what I do today is going to eventually bear fruit.” Turn to page 34 to meet some local former athletes building new legacies in Baton Rouge.

Par for the course Speaking of sports, there’s one in particular that a lot of locals have been picking up recently: golf. BREC’s golf courses saw a 17% uptick in rounds played during 2020. Baton Rouge Country Club and Country Club of Louisiana measured similar increases. Because golf is played outdoors and is a non-contact sport, it became a safe, fun way to socialize during the pandemic. Venues like Topgolf—which has also been busy this year—and the forthcoming GolfSuites have driven up interest in the sport, too. “We see Topgolf as a feeder system that gives people exposure to golf,” says Mike Raby, director of BREC Golf. Turn to page 20 to read more about the growth of golfing in Baton Rouge.

On the patio As restaurateurs envision our current and post-COVID worlds, they have a new consideration to keep in mind. “Having more seating outside seems like the right thing to do right now,” says Peter Sclafani. Along with partners Kiva Guidroz and Michael Boudreaux, Sclafani opened SoLou on Perkins Road in March. When reimagining the former Rum House



space, the owners made a crucial decision to replace an outdoor bar with additional seating for diners. Outdoor seating has become a bigger priority for new and old restaurants alike, thanks to COVID19. But even as vaccinations for the coronavirus increase, it’s an industry change we might see for the long run. The owners of Bistro Byronz have emphasized outdoor seating as they move into the former White Star Market space on Government Street. And the owners of DiGiulio Brothers hope to have a new terrace ready in time for football season. We explore the future of outdoor dining in the Capital City. Check out our feature starting on page 62.

The power of books Kids can get a haircut experience like no other at O’Neil’s Barber and Beauty Shop. Shop owner O’Neil Curtis and volunteer Lucy Perera partnered to launch the Line 4 Line program in 2014. The program offers kids a free haircut—plus the confidence that comes with it—and a chance to build their literacy skills. While having their hair done, kids read aloud, working with the barbers to discern difficult words and talk through themes in the stories. The program serves about 200 kids per year, and each one leaves the shop with a free book. It’s a meaningful moment because, the founders say, most of the kids don’t have any books at home. This month, we talk with Curtis and Perera about the program’s impact— and why 2021 will be such a big year for the organization. Turn to page 25 for more.

“I highly recommend The Del Rio team. We were able to get an offer on our home in just 10 days! If you are looking for an agent to sell your house, Del Rio Real Estate should be your first choice.” -SATISFIED CLIENT

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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Features 18 What to order at downtown’s Main Street Market

25 How a barbershop gets kids excited about reading

51 What happens to the

clothes you donated during the pandemic?

72 How a local musician keeps woodwinds sounding just right And much more …

Departments 14 25 32 34 47 57 69 74

What’s Up Our City I am 225 Cover story Style Taste Culture Calendar


From ball fields to boardrooms, athletesturned-entrepreneurs have reinvented themselves. But it’s not as big of a change for them as you might think. Many of the skills needed to succeed in sports are crucial in business, too. In this month’s cover story, local former athletes share how athletics taught them lessons on leadership, teamwork and time management—and how they are applying those lessons today to their thriving, impactful businesses. Staff photographer Collin Richie captured our cover star Matt Flynn. Find out what the former LSU and NFL quarterback is up to now—as well as the other local leaders in our cover story—starting on page 34.




Top of their game

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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Here for You Here for Women

At Baton Rouge General, we’re here for women. Whether it’s your first annual visit or your yearly mammogram, we have providers available at three locations to make getting care as easy as possible. Baton Rouge General has been taking care of women for generations and we’re not going anywhere.

Womens Health Services Provided:


3D ultrasound Annual GYN exams Birth control management Bone density scans Girl Talk puberty classes Genetic cancer screening Gynecologic surgery including robotic-assisted surgery Infertility evaluation In-office lab

Jo Anne Barrios, MD Taylar Childress, MD Sarah Drennan, MD Candace Moore, MD Johnathan Wise, MD Rhandi Wise, MD Khaki Hazzlerigg, FNP-C Erin Michel, MSN, BSN Richshell Smith, DNP, WHNP

In-office sonograms Irregular periods/menstrual care Lactation consultations Level III NICU 3D Mammography Maternal fetal medicine Maternity care and childbirth options Menopause Urinary incontinence


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Your best sport is ... Publisher: Julio Melara


“Mixology.” —Maggie Heyn Richardson

Editorial director: Penny Font Editor: Jennifer Tormo Managing editor: Benjamin Leger Features writer: Maggie Heyn Richardson Digital content editor: Mark Clements Staff photographer: Collin Richie Contributing writers: Cynthea Corfah, Julia-Claire Evans, Caroline Hebert, Adrian E. Hirsch, Tracey Koch, Stephanie Riegel Contributing photographers: Ariana Allison, Sean Gasser, Amy Shutt, Haskell Whittington


Sales director: Erin Palmintier-Pou Account executives: Manny Fajardo, André Hellickson Savoie, Jamie Hernandez, Kaitlyn Maranto, Olivia Robb Advertising coordinator: Devyn MacDonald


“Does aggressively shooing Louisiana mosquitoes count as a sport?” —Tim Coles

Editor: Lisa Tramontana Content strategist: Allyson Guay Multimedia strategy manager: Tim Coles Client experience coordinator, Studio E: Nicole Prunty “Cheerleading. If anyone is looking to start a recreational cheerleading squad where we just cheer for … each other, give me a call!” —Taylor Floyd


Chief marketing officer: Elizabeth McCollister Hebert Marketing & events assistant: Taylor Floyd Events: Abby Hamilton Community liaison: Jeanne McCollister McNeil


Assistant business manager: Tiffany Durocher Business associate: Kirsten Milano Office coordinator: Tara Lane Receptionist: Cathy Brown


Production director: Melanie Samaha Art director: Hoa Vu Graphic designers: Melinda Gonzalez, Emily Witt “I wouldn’t say it’s my best sport, but I recently got hooked on golf. Fore!” —James Hume


Audience development director and digital manager: James Hume Audience development coordinator: Ivana Oubre Audience development associate: Jordan Kozar

“Back in the day, it was cheerleading and tumbling. This winter, I’ve been working on my skiing skills!” —Melinda Gonzalez

A publication of Louisiana Business Inc. Chairman: Rolfe H. McCollister Jr. Executive assistant: Tara Broussard President and CEO: Julio Melara Executive assistant: Brooke Motto 9029 Jefferson Highway, Suite 300 Baton Rouge, LA 70809 225-214-5225  •  FAX 225-926-1329 225batonrouge.com  ©Copyright 2021 by Louisiana Business Incorporated. All rights reserved by LBI. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. Business address: 9029 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Telephone (225) 214-5225. 225 Magazine cannot be responsible for the return of unsolicited material—manuscripts or photographs—with or without the inclusion of a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Information in this publication is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed.


[225 May 2021  |  225batonrouge.com

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• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329



CALL US TODAY for a complimentary consultation! 225.757.6138 | pecbuilt.com | LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED

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F E E D B AC K / / W H AT ’ S O N L I N E / /

Berry good options

Cover stars Channing and Kingston Adams—the young brains behind the Two Little Boys clothing line—were featured on the cover of our April issue, and you could tell they had a blast based on this Facebook comment.

“Check out SoLou’s Strawberry Hill cocktail with strawberryinfused gin!”

“YAY!!! Look at us! Thank you so much for the feature. It was sooo much fun!”




—Two Little Boys, LLC.

“Strawberry and cream scones!!”

Picking up strawberries at the Red Stick Farmers Market.

Chicken that ‘slaps’


WE ASKED OUR Instagram followers what they were doing with this spring’s bounty of strawberries. Here are some of their responses:

WE PROFILED THE Chicky Sandos food truck in an April edition of our 225 Daily e-newsletter. The truck popped onto the local scene in fall Chicky Sandos’ Chicky Fries, Hot 2020 thanks to Box Combo and The Sando founders Henry Nguyen, Sameer Abudyak, Daniel Vu and Jordan Duong. Our Instagram followers seem to have already discovered the truck’s take on Nashville hot chicken, and they can’t get enough—and also appreciate its quirky name.

“I can’t buy them fast enough! I eat a ½ flat a week.” —@recreationalchef

“Strawberry cupcakes.”

“Berry chantilly!”



“On top of a Playa Bowl!

“Lots of delish vegan treats!”



“Chicky Sandos is crazy. ” —@calesaurage


“Strawberry shortcakes

“Did Tom Haverford name this place?” —@linzrebecca

“The whole menu slaps.” —@geauxcrimson

“The best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had. It’s delish and HUGE. ” —@misscarriebaybay

CONNECT WITH US twitter.com/225batonrouge









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lbatonrouge.com • 866.261.7777 Must be 21 years of age or older to enter Casino, Edge Bar and Bon Temps Buffet. See mychoice Center for details. Management reserves the right to cancel, modify or refuse this offer without notice at any time. Offer not valid for self-exclusion program enrollees in jurisdictions which Penn National Gaming, Inc. operates or who have been otherwise excluded from the participating property. Gambling problem? Call 800.522.4700. ©2021 Penn National Gaming, Inc. All rights reserved.





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[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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t u O t e G of Town Dreaming of a quick getaway? 225, along with our partners, has created the insider’s guide to weekend adventures, including sightseeing, foodie experiences, shopping, outdoor fun and more. If you’re planning a road trip anytime soon, we recommend you take a look at these hot spots. Visit 225batonrouge.com/travel or use the QR code to start exploring. While you’re there, register to win a travel prize from one of our destinations in The Getaway Giveaway. Winners will be announced on May 21.

PARTNERS: Ω Visit Natchez Ω Louisiana River Parishes Houmas House Estate and Gardens Ω West Feliciana Tourism Blue Zoo

Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel & Tallulah Crafted Food & Wine Bar

Ω LSU Rural Life Museum Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Ω New Orleans Discover Monroe-West Monroe Ω Visit Lake Charles Watermark Baton Rouge

Hammond Eats - Rubio Hospitality

225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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Princesses, refreshed


Ronnie Anderson is the local author behind the 5 Amazing Fairytales anthology.

IN 2017, Ronnie Anderson was reading to his then 3-year-old daughter, Kaiyah, when he was reminded that fairy tales weren’t particularly diverse. He wanted Kaiyah and her sister, Eliana, to see more representations of Black characters in the books they enjoyed before bed. “I couldn’t find what I wanted on Amazon,” Anderson says. “Then I started doing research on fairy tales and realized they hadn’t changed much since Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. So I said, ‘I’m going to write one.’” Anderson, who grew up in Scotlandville, is now a married father of three girls. He works by day as a clinical lab scientist at Baton Rouge General. It’s a job that demands orderly thinking and attention to detail. But Anderson claims a storytelling side, too, including a casual interest in writing screenplays and plays. Something spoke to him about working on a collection of fairy tales with diverse characters. “I wanted kids to know we’re all beautiful and we can all contribute,” Anderson says. In his spare time, Anderson dreamed up new ideas. One year later, he selfpublished an anthology called 5 Amazing Fairytales. The book features original fables strewn with whimsical characters on the rocky road to self-discovery. Anderson’s heroes embark on journeys filled with fantastical creatures, new friends and frightening enemies, all of which help them learn how to love others and love themselves. In the story Chasing Beautiful, a young Black princess named Beautiful is turned invisible by witches after she plays recklessly with a slingshot and causes harm to others. She sets off alone, meeting a boy and a wolf. They help her understand that the meaning of life is, in fact, to protect life. Lesson learned, she returns home, her invisibility erased through a final selfless act. Reading Beautiful’s story provoked a reaction in Kaiyah, Anderson says. “She said, ‘Daddy, there’s finally a princess that looks like me.’” This year, Anderson’s book is getting a reboot. He’s republishing it with new illustrations by Turkish book illustrator and character designer Seda Coşkun. Each of the five tales will also be available as individual picture books. And, Anderson is planning to create branded merchandise. The 39-year-old says he considers himself a peacemaker. He hopes his stories both fill a void in children’s literature and are universally appealing. “I really wanted to work in this niche, fairy tales,” Anderson says, “and write stories in a way that children from all races could relate to them and enjoy them.” anboran.com —MAGGIE HEYN RICHARDSON


[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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W H AT ’ S U P / /

Routine reveal

Jennifer MachaHebert and Nely Ward of Basic

Jennifer Macha-Hebert and Nely Ward of Basic share how they stay focused on health




Macha-Hebert’s routine: As a working mom, how do you make time for your own fitness? Sometimes you have to take advantage of the situation. I took up tennis recently, because there was an empty court near where my sons play baseball, and I asked the other moms, ‘Anybody want to start playing tennis?’ What’s your favorite snack? Chips and salsa are my weakness. But lately, I’ve been snacking on raw broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. It gives me more energy.



Ward’s routine:

The number of diapers distributed each month to families in need by the Baton Rouge Diaper Bank. The project was launched in 2014 by the Junior League of Baton Rouge. Experts say a lack of regular diapering leads to a multitude of health problems, but diapers aren’t funded by Medicaid. Low-income parents struggle to pay for them, especially when most childcare providers require they bring their own. Find out how to donate diapers, including open packages, by visiting diaperbankbr.org.

How do you fuel up in the morning? Eggs over easy with sautéed spinach and mushrooms. What’s your nutrition routine? I have celiac disease, so I usually eat paleo. And I’d probably call myself a pescatarian since I eat mostly fish. What’s your workout routine? I run 40 miles a week, including speed work and a long run on Fridays. I also walk my dog and do Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. What’s on your playlist? Nothing. I leave my phone at home while I run. I let my mind run free.

Favorite beverage? Water. And peppermint tea for my allergies.

“While we experienced a slight uptick in total absences today, we were able to lend support where needed to ensure that high-quality instruction continued for students.”

What’s on your playlist? Old school hip-hop. Routine Reveal is a recurring 225 feature on locals’ wellness routines. Pitch us a health or fitness expert at editor@225batonrouge.com.


Prom petals PROM WOULDN’T BE prom without the snap-happy ritual of trading corsages and boutonnieres. It’s an exchange that’s often a young person’s first exposure to formal flowers, says Ben Heroman of Billy Heroman’s Flowers. Last year’s proms were a coronavirus casualty, but this year, they’re back—at least partially. “We’re expecting business to return to about halfway from what it is during a normal year,” Heroman says, “and we may see some new looks.” Nationwide trends making their way to Baton Rouge include the use of succulents, tropicals and orchids, as well as ring corsages, and corsage styles that loop through both finger and wrist and coil up the forearm, Heroman says. There’s also been a return to small bouquets, or “tussie mussies,” he adds. No matter the style of prom flowers, the goals remain: Match your date—and stand out in the crowd. billyheromans.com Orchid corsage


Succulent boutonniere

—East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Superintendent Sito Narcisse in response to an April 12 sickout, during which 531 out of 3,328—almost 16%— of East Baton Rouge Parish teachers stayed home to protest Narcisse’s Smart Start proposal. The plan, to be voted on by the School Board on April 22, calls for teachers to return to school on July 19, and students to return on July 28, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. It’s part of a strategy to catch students up who fell behind during the pandemic. Narcisse filled the sickout absences with staff from the school system’s central office.

225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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IN 2020, JENNIFER MachaHebert and Nely Ward were working together as race organizers when COVID-19 interrupted the world of fun runs and marathons. The two used their downtime to launch a dream venture: a lifestyle company they named Basic, which offers fitness training and nutritional coaching. “By teaching kids and adults basic skills in core fitness and nutrition,” Macha-Hebert says, “we knew we could help people make small changes that would lead to big rewards.” Since opening last year, the duo has run fitness camps for kids and worked oneon-one with athletes and sports enthusiasts. This could mean helping a high school volleyball player improve their chances of playing in college, or coaching a working parent to compete in a triathlon. “We help with agility and endurance,” Ward says. “But our overall goal is to get people healthier and happier.” So what do these two competitive runners, Ironman athletes and fans of healthy eating do to keep themselves on track? Here’s a window. basiclivingbr.com





4/16/21 9:57 AM

W H AT ’ S U P / /

W H AT ’ S N E W

Buzz feed By Julia-Claire Evans



From nutrient-rich poke bowls, to sushi burritos, to ramen, and more... we’re making fast food FRESH! Contemporary Japanese & Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine


Located at Arlington Marketplace 660 Arlington Creek Centre Blvd, Suite 4F • 225-663-2128 Follow @finbombsushibr on

Matador Vodka founder Bobbie Johnson

The Tito’s of Louisiana? Matador Vodka is hoping to expand and become an iconic brand throughout the state. Gonzales’ Sugarfield Spirits distillery produces Matador’s exclusive blend, a sugarcane vodka with notes of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch. Currently, the spirit is sold in local stores like Calandro’s, Martin Wine & Spirits, Total Wine & More and Hokus Pokus Liquor. It is also served at several restaurants around town. Founder Bobbie Johnson is aiming for Matador to be to Louisiana what Tito’s is to Texas. matadorvodka.com


6 locations region wide • Online booking available


A sports-themed barbershop

Arts Ambassadors

Draft Picks Barbershop is coming to Lee Drive near campus, and is hoping to service LSU students with all their hair styling needs. It marks the second location for the brand, which caters to styling needs ranging from a toddler getting her very first haircut to an athlete on draft day. draftpicksbarber shop.com

Arts enthusiasts, there’s a new program for you! The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge has been working behind-the-scenes to launch its new Arts Ambassadors program for about a year, and anyone is now welcomed to join. Members will enjoy private tours of exhibits and museums, meet-and-greets with artists, and even VIP access to arts festivals and events. Membership is $10 per month. artsbr.org/arts-ambassadors

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #1 W H AT ’ S U P / /

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

Downtown developments Multiple new businesses that either recently opened or plan to open soon downtown: Royal Taste of Jamaica

Previously a shipping container restaurant in Millennial Park, Royal Taste of Jamaica made the move to a downtown brick-and-mortar in March. The Jamaican restaurant took over the former Christina’s space on St. Charles Street. Its menu boasts dishes like jerk chicken, curry goat and oxtails. Find it on Facebook

Celebrate WITH MOM AT

Social Coffee

The coffee company, which currently serves its goods from a counter in Chow Yum Phat, is opening its own store this summer. The brick-and-mortar location will be on Third Street, next to Geaux Ride and the YMCA. Previously a coffee cart, the new permanent location will serve customer favorites like handmade espresso drinks and pastries from CounterspaceBR. Find it on Facebook

Southern Cofe


This staple of Scotlandville has made its way downtown. The health cafe and coffee shop opened in Main Street Market in March. It serves specialties like smoothies, sandwiches, paninis, soups and, of course, its signature coffee. Turn to page 18 for more on Main Street Market. Find it on Facebook

“They took pay cuts and made hard choices in order to keep operating and to keep providing critically important information to their communities. They’d never say they’re heroes—but they were.” —LSU Media Law and Media History assistant professor Will Mari, on journalists during the pandemic. Mari partnered with University of Kansas professor Teri Finneman for a research study on how community newspapers and their staffs were affected by the pandemic. During a 10-month period starting in March 2020, they followed newsrooms in 28 communities. The study showed the resilience and importance of local newspapers and journalists, especially when communities are in a trying time like the pandemic.

Corporate Blvd at Jefferson • 225.925.2344 townecenteratcedarlodge.com • HEALTH • BEAUTY • DESIGNER SHOPPING HOME DECOR • GOURMET DINING • AND MORE 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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Taste this


A food tour of Main Street Market, Baton Rouge’s original food hall

WHITE STAR MARKET’S fleeting foray in Mid City was all too brief, but Baton Rouge still has another urban food mall where you can grab a great meal. The Main Street Market became the city’s first food hall when it opened in 2002 at Fifth and Main streets downtown. Today, the permanent marketplace includes five counter service eateries that offer a variety of lunchtime fare, including acai bowls, salads, wraps, Chinese combos, soul food and other fare. On Saturdays, as the Red Stick Farmers Market takes place outside, menus turn to breakfast and brunch. Nearly two decades ago, the Main Street Market was part of a first wave of projects triggered by Plan Baton Rouge, the community’s full-throated effort to begin revitalizing then-sleepy downtown. The market also hosts second locations for retailer Red Stick Spice Company and health food store Our Daily Bread, which sells grab-and-go sandwiches, baked goods and smoothies. On Saturdays, additional vendors set up inside. Cutrer’s Meat Market, Crazy Cajun Confections and other producers give patrons even more items to experience. Cheery tables on the north and south ends of the market provide ample seating. Here’s a peek at the noshes you’ll find. breada.org/markets/main-street-market; Find the vendors on Facebook




1. Belly-warming goodness is what SYI’s meat-and-two daily special is all about. Dive into turkey wings, fried or roast chicken, meatloaf and classic Southern sides, plus old-fashioned layer cakes. On Saturday, the hot line serves breakfast.


2. Our Daily Bread’s avocado or turkey sandwiches served on homemade bread have been a mainstay of healthy eating in Baton Rouge for decades. Pair with a cup of scratch-made tomato soup. 3. On weekdays, Chef Celeste Bistro serves flatbreads, salads and burgers, and on Saturdays, it’s all about eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits and other tempting brunch items. 4. By carton or wrap, FRESHJUNKIE’s nutrient-dense salads are studded with everything from beets to strawberries to edamame. Order from the menu, or design your own.

6. The market’s newest vendor, Southern Cofe, prepares fresh acai bowls and smoothies, light fare and high-quality coffee drinks.





5. Sink your teeth into the savory goodness of Paul Wong’s daily combos, which include stir-fried meats and veggies bathed in sweet-tangy sauces and served with a requisite eggroll.

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329







e probably all know someone who has filed for bankruptcy. We just may not know that we know. In Baton Rouge alone, there have been over 11,000 cases filed since 2013. Recent economic shifts are predicted to cause a new wave of filings. Attorney Morley Diment addresses some of the common concerns about filing and the realities of filing for bankruptcy and shares strategies for getting out from behind the eight ball. When the walls of debt feel like they are closing in, it’s time to look for a lifeline. Of course, people do everything they can to avoid bankruptcy, but the reality is that life happens— for better or worse—and it is usually a sudden change in circumstances that lead people into debt, not just making bad financial decisions. When the walls of debt feel like they are closing in, it’s time to look for a lifeline. Diment & Associates is an asset and debt law firm sincerely focused on helping their clients resolve their financial issues and get their life back on track with a clean slate. Diment knows how daunting it can be

to navigate this alone. He still remembers his first debt case. “I thought I was going to meet someone who was in this position because she was a slacker who just didn’t pay her bills,” Diment says. “Instead, I found a woman who had lost her husband and son in a car accident then, in grief, couldn’t take care of her diabetes and ended up in a coma. The medical bills—along with the loss of her job—put her in this position.” Helping this person wipe the slate clean and start fresh led him to practice bankruptcy law. For many in our community, each day that passes is another day with more creditor phone calls, compounding interest and stacking debts. Diment & Associates recognizes that most clients are already in a low place when they call. “I understand that asking for help is embarrassing to most of my clients,” Diment says. “I want people to understand that they shouldn’t be embarrassed and that the earlier they contact me, the sooner they will find themselves in a more comfortable financial position.” There’s no shame in bankruptcy: Simply put, it’s a legal process through which most debts are forgiven primarily based on one’s income, assets, and debt. There are many different kinds of bankruptcy, and different reasons to file: Restructure a bad car loan, catch up on a mortgage, clean up credit, get caught up on back tax debt/child support, or a failed/struggling business. It’s easy to see how so many people you know may have filed, and why there’s no reason to feel ashamed. The first step is to consult an attorney. This is tricky terrain to navigate and the more information you have, the better your decisions will be. The team at Diment & Associates knows all the options and can help you get a fresh perspective on what you are really facing and how you can come out in a better position. In fact, after filing for bankruptcy, many clients are far better off both in their credit score and in other financial matters and in turn, other aspects of their lives.

If I file bankruptcy I will lose my [insert asset here]” Generally, no. That’s part of why there are lawyers like Diment & Associates – to make sure you don’t do it wrong and lose everything! In fact, filing for bankruptcy does not mean you have to sell everything and often, it can even improve your payments on the stuff you do keep or let you pay them off faster. Many bankruptcies aren’t even designed around getting rid of the debt. Instead, they focus on reducing the interest rates and payment so you can afford to pay them off and get back on your feet. Diment & Associates can help you plot a course to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Often, it’s a matter of restructuring debts and changing some spending habits. So, don’t be ashamed to ask for help – we all need it sometimes. Just be honest with your lawyer about all the details so they can help you make lasting repairs. Filing bankruptcy ruins your credit and you can’t borrow money to [insert important life event here]”. This is one of the most common concerns that Diment and his team have to address. Credit is important - its how we get cars, houses, and even education. Many people are under the impression that filing bankruptcy will ruin their opportunities in the future. The surprising truth is, while bankruptcy does have an immediate impact on credit score, it’s not what you’d expect. For many people, their credit score is actually improved at the conclusion of the bankruptcy because it removes many of the “derogatory” marks—the things that lower your score—from your credit report. Even more interesting is that for many, their access to credit is improved. “Most people don’t realize that mistakes from their past like evictions, repossessions, or accounts in collections are highly impactful on credit decisions. Having a bankruptcy, for many lenders, is a factor that impacts interest rates – not approvals. This is especially true after two years from your bankruptcy. Many people are further from realizing their dream of buying a house or a car than they thought – because of derogatory marks. Once they file bankruptcy, they end up closer to that goal than they were before. For some, it was the decision that made them eligible when they weren’t before. Diment & Associates is offering free consultations to 225 readers. Visit dimentfirm.com/225 to schedule.

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W H AT ’ S U P / /


Get your golf on! From neighborhood courses to Topgolf’s high-tech experience, golfing venues have seen an influx of players during the pandemic “I think more people are playing golf FROM THE PANDEMIC’S earliest days, the need because more people are working from to stay socially distanced and safe gave golf an home and traveling less,” Jacks says. “They advantage over other contact-driven sports. It’s have more time on their hands. We’re seeing part of why local golf courses have seen increased more people wanting to staycation and activity over the past year. enjoying the club more often.” BREC’s courses have been busy, says BREC Modern golf attraction Topgolf has seen a Golf director Mike Raby. Though BREC had to shut similar uptick in attendance. down the courses for five weeks during last spring’s “It’s been more popular in the last nine stay-at-home order, people were able to walk the months than the months prior,” says director courses and get outside. of operations Paul Howard. “I think the entire “When we re-opened,” Raby says, “everyone was sport has benefited, because it is anxious to play golf. And they played primarily an outdoor sport, and people a lot.” are feeling safer in open-air situations Across BREC’s six golf courses, total where there’s natural social distancing.” rounds played were up 17% in 2020, Topgolf has been able to continue according to Raby. It’s a continuing Increase in total hosting small birthday parties and trend—February 2021 saw even more rounds played celebrations. Groups can be separated action than the pre-pandemic days of into different bays, with barriers February 2020. across BREC’s providing social distancing. “Golf, as an outdoor activity, is six golf courses The presence of venues like Topgolf naturally socially distanced,” Raby during 2020. and the newly announced GolfSuites, says. “When four people come to play, expected to open at an unspecified date they’re around each other a little at the on a nearly 17-acre site on Siegen Lane, beginning and end, but they’re mostly has also helped to increase popularity at traditional on their own program.” golf courses, Raby says. The experience levels of players has been plenty “We were thrilled to hear Topgolf was coming diverse, too. Seasoned golfers started playing more to Baton Rouge, along with GolfSuites,” he says. frequently at BREC; people who played when they “Topgolf got people who played golf when they were younger took the sport back up; and the were younger and stopped to do it as a social courses also saw a fair amount of new players, Raby event. We see Topgolf as a feeder system that gives says. people exposure to golf.” “This is something you can do outdoors, you get Raby expects GolfSuites will do the same. some exercise—and it’s a social activity,” Raby says. “I think a lot of people are trying it and enjoying “A lot of the things you couldn’t do in 2020 were it,” Raby says. “That’s the big thing for us, just social activities.” seeing all these people come out and enjoy Baton Rouge Country Club has also recorded themselves." increases, says Bobby Jacks, its head golf professional. The club’s play increased by 12% over —JULIA-CLAIRE EVANS the pandemic.



Visitors play at BREC's Webb Memorial Golf Course on a spring day.


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Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #4

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

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W H AT ’ S U P / /

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I N S I D E : News from around Baton Rouge

A trim & a tale

How a literacy program for young people combines reading with haircuts B Y MAG G IE H E YN R ICH A R DSO N


O’Neil Curtis cuts Kyron Bush’s hair at his Acadian Thruway barbershop, where Curtis runs the Line 4 Line literacy program.

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Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #4

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

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shop-based literacy program that Curtis, a neighborhood businessman and mentor, launched with volunteer Lucy Perera in 2014. Modeled after similar programs across the country, Line 4 Line addresses children’s literacy skills while building their social confidence through a free monthly haircut. The program serves about 200 kids from ages 3 to 16 every year. “The reason why the program is so unique—and works so good—is that we really help them,” Curtis says. “These kids don’t have the money to get their hair cut, so we get them in for that. But really, we’re tricking them with a haircut, so we can mentor them and help them with their reading.” The program started after Perera, then the coordinator of schools and community programs for the LSU Museum of Art, heard about similar initiatives nationwide. There was something about the comfort of the community barber shop that made children relax and get excited about improving their reading skills. Perera started looking for willing


THE FIRST MONDAY of each month at O’Neil’s Barber and Beauty Shop on North Acadian Thruway is like nothing you’ve seen at a salon before. Children arrive for a free haircut, and the chance to work on their reading skills. Awaiting their turn, kids beeline for the bookshelves and tables sprinkled around the shop, where colorful titles promise exciting plots and interesting characters. Each child selects a book and sits down to read. By the time they scramble into the barber chair, the stories are really getting interesting. As the haircut ensues, they’re expected to read aloud. The barbers know how to help with difficult words, or ask questions that reveal just how much the child has really read. “I say things like, ‘What’s the story about? Tell me something to make me feel like I’ve read it,’” says shop owner O’Neil Curtis. “I can tell if they’re reading or not. Sometimes they say, ‘I’m reading silently,’ and I say, “‘No, read to me.’” Welcome to Line 4 Line, the barber


O’Neil Curtis runs the Line 4 Line program out of his business, O’Neil’s Barber and Beauty Shop.

Founders O’Neil Curtis and Lucy Perera sourced books from the national Conscious Kid organization, which provides BIPOC-authored children’s literature to community programs.

barbershops in Baton Rouge, and eventually found Curtis. Together, they began building the program. They made flyers to spark interest, and sourced books from the national Conscious Kid organization, which provides BIPOC-authored children’s literature to community programs as a way to combat racism. “It’s important for kids to see themselves in the characters they read about, especially just doing normal everyday things,” says Perera, now director of learning innovation at the Knock Knock Children’s Museum.

Perera and Curtis also recruited volunteer tutors from Southern University to support children who are either too young to read on their own, or who need extra support. Currently, volunteers from Catholic High and St. Joseph’s Academy are also lending a hand. After their haircut, kids leave the shop with a free book. It’s a big deal, the founders say, since most of the young clients live in homes with no books at all. Curtis says he grew up “rough,” in a single-parent household with three siblings and few resources. 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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“Really, we’re tricking them with a haircut, so we can mentor them and help them with their reading.” Blu e S ta r Museu ms is a col l a bor at ion a mong t h e Nat iona l E n dow m e n t f or t h e A r t s , B l u e S t a r Fa m i l i e s , t h e D e pa r t m e n t o f D e f e n s e , a n d m useu ms across A m e r ica of f e r i ng f r e e a dm is s ion t o t h e n a t ion ’s a c t i v e-du t y m i l i t a ry p e r s o n n e l a n d t h e i r fa m i l i e s , i nc lu di ng N a t ion a l G ua r d a n d R e s e rv e .

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—O’Neil Curtis says about the program, which began in 2014

“We didn’t own any books,” he says. Over its nearly seven years in existence, Line 4 Line keeps evolving. It added a Saturday lending library, tucked in a building owned by Curtis just behind the North Acadian Thruway barber shop. And this summer, the program is launching a new book mobile with help from the Wilson Foundation and the Capital Area United Way. Outfitted with both books and a barber chair, it will bring the free haircut and reading program to kids around the community. For older kids, Line 4 Line focuses on career education. Curtis mentors teens about what it takes to become a barber, a career that has brought him both joy and stability. He teaches a class at Capitol High School in which students practice barbering and beautician skills with real equipment. Curtis is hoping to grow the class into a full apprenticeship program that

will give students a jumpstart on a barbering career after high school. The apprenticeship program won’t be limited to Capitol High. Line 4 Line is one of the four nonprofit partners converting the former Sarkis Oriental Rug store on Government Street into a new youth-focused nonprofit consortium called Youth City Lab. The other partners include Big Buddy, Humanities Amped and Front Yard Bikes. Inside the 10,000-square-foot space, Line 4 Line plans to have a reading room filled with books, and a mock salon with a barber chair where teens can practice barbering skills. Curtis says he relishes being able to change young lives. “I get so much joy out of it,” he says. “We give them a high-class cut and book. They’re proud. There’s a shine to them when they leave.” To find out more about the program and how to help, find Line 4 Line on Facebook and line4linebr.org.

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News briefs

IT MIGHT BE difficult keeping up with all the lawsuits, allegations, reports and hearings that have unfolded over LSU’s handling of sexual assault complaints. We take a look at what’s happened (at least up to our mid-April press deadline). NOVEMBER 2020 USA Today released a bombshell investigation featuring interviews with former students who alleged LSU ignored their sexual assault claims. Many involved student athletes and the failures of athletics administrators to follow Title IX requirements in handling such complaints. In response, LSU hired the firm Husch Blackwell to perform its own investigation and develop recommendations for the university.

MARCH 4 LSU made public a 2013 report by local law firm Taylor Porter of sexual harassment allegations against former football head coach Les Miles by former female student workers. That report was kept under Les Miles wraps for eight years, until USA Today filed suit for access.

MARCH 17 MARCH 23 F. King Alexander Oregon State accepted appeared before Oregon Alexander’s resignation as State University’s Board president after just eight of Trustees to discuss his months on the job. 2013-2019 tenure at LSU. Alexander alleged LSU’s F. King Alexander E RT MARCH 24 Board of Supervisors OU /C TZ Louisiana’s Board of Regents intervened to keep Miles JIM ZIE pledged to tighten oversight and as head coach. His other enforcement of state college policies statements seemed to disparage against sexual misconduct, calling the LSU and the state, saying he scandal at LSU a “systemic failure.” often battled racism from the LSU community and a culture MARCH 25 of ingrained politics resistant to T LSU announced the creation of a new reforms. “Our community is far O H EP FIL committee to overhaul its procedures of more advanced here than what I handling Title IX complaints. had to deal with at LSU,” Alexander said during the hearing. LS U

LSU’s scandal continues

MARCH 22 LSU’s Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Oregon’s Board of Trustees countering Alexander’s testimony. Specifically, LSU contradicted Alexander’s claims that Husch Blackwell had not interviewed him before issuing its report. LSU said Alexander twice declined an opportunity to be interviewed and instead submitted answers in writing.



MARCH 8 Les Miles agreed to end his University of Kansas contract early as a result of the newly surfaced allegations of his behavior while at LSU. The Kansas athletic director who hired Miles in 2018 also stepped down just two days later.

MARCH 18 Based on Alexander’s allegations, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools launched an investigation into LSU and the Board of Supervisors. It put LSU’s accreditation in question and could require extensive documentation from university officials to confirm it is in compliance.



MARCH 5 Husch Blackwell presented its 150-page report, which sharply criticized the university’s Title IX office, but singled out university leadership for not adequately staffing or supporting the office and for ignoring red flags. As a result of the findings, LSU briefly suspended without pay executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar.

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MARCH 26 At a Louisiana Senate hearing, Gloria Scott testified about the sexual harassment complaints she made in 2017 following an interaction with then-star running back Derrius Guice Derrius Guice. She said Guice and others sexually harassed her at the Superdome. Scott claimed head coach Ed Orgeron later called to offer an apology. But in the Husch Blackwell report, Orgeron denied having direct communication with her. MARCH 30 Orgeron told a sports radio show that Scott’s testimony was the first time he heard the details of her encounter with Guice. He also reiterated that he doesn’t remember ever speaking with Scott. APRIL 6 • Orgeron declined a request to appear before the Louisiana Senate, instead submitting a letter that seemed to muddy the waters of his account. In it, he said he had heard of the incident at the time and had called and spoke with a representative of Ed Orgeron Scott to discuss the matter, but the situation was never resolved. • By this point, both Ausberry and Segar had returned to work following month-long suspensions without pay.

APRIL 8 • Sharon Lewis, associate athletic director of football recruiting, filed a $50 million federal lawsuit against LSU and current and former administrators, alleging retaliation for her attempts to report Title IX complaints IE ICH NR against former coach Miles. She COLLI claimed administrators and law firm Taylor Porter conspired to protect Miles from her actions and subjected her to a hostile work environment as payback. • The Louisiana Senate summoned 10 LSU officials to a committee hearing to testify, but none showed up. LSU General Counsel Winston DeCuir Jr. attended, though, saying he advised officials to decline the invite because of liability issues over the growing scandal and Lewis’ lawsuit. APRIL 10 The Board of Supervisors held a rare Saturday meeting to discuss next steps in the search for a president—the position hasn’t been filled since Alexander left in 2020. The board also discussed actions taken since the R Husch Blackwell report, LE EF NH including moving the Title IX JORDA office to the center of campus to make it more accessible to students.


100 Estimated number of riverboat arrivals expected at the downtown dock throughout 2021, now that riverboat cruises have returned after a year-long pandemic hiatus. Two cruise companies began navigating the Mississippi River in March on routes that span from New Orleans to Memphis.

800 Square feet of a Walls Project mural planned on the side of Baton Rouge General Mid City that’s set to be completed in June. It’s part of plans to revamp the Florida Boulevard hospital and celebrate its resurgence with a new entrance, event space, green space and more. BRG reopened its acute care facilities there a year ago and treated more than 26,000 patients since then—a 33% increase from 2019.


Late 2022

Early 2022 Possible start time for the redevelopment of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site on Airline Highway into a mixed-use development with health care, educational and recreational services, and affordable housing units for seniors. The former charity hospital site was shuttered eight years ago, despite concerns it would strike a blow to health care access in north Baton Rouge.

The earliest date for completion of a planning study for a new bridge across the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, according to engineers and consultants involved in the project. An environmental assessment would follow, targeted to wrap up in 2024. Meaning: Don’t get your hopes up for a new bridge anytime soon.


WE CARRY EACH OTHER It’s how we do things in Louisiana during times of challenge. We’re stronger together and we know our strength lies in the helping hands of our neighbors. So let’s wear a mask and protect one another. And protect the life we love. 01MK7496 R3/21

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I AM 225 //

FOR SHELLI BROWN, art is freedom. It’s allowed her to live life by her own terms— she has become a successful artist with no prior experience or even a single art class. But it’s also allowed her to combine some of her passions. Growing up, the Denham Springs native was influenced by her mother’s love of art. Once Brown got to LSU, she earned a degree in kinesiology. So it’s no surprise one of her first series was a collection of abstract works celebrating the way the body moves. “[Creating art] is so fulfilling,” Brown says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else or loving anything else as much as I love to do what I do.” Brown is almost instinctual in the way she can see the body’s shape reflected in different objects, whether it’s actual nude statues during a visit to Florence, Italy, or the curves of her marble tub.

“I don’t know what came first: my love of the human form, or if that’s just what my brain sees. But it’s like a magic eye,” says the mom-to-be. To Brown, there is no shame when it comes to the human body. Her goal while creating her abstract pieces is to strip away the stigma of nude artwork and the idea that bodies must be covered up. “I think that the mindset where we all have the same body is important,” she says. Brown says she strives to keep her work subtle and tasteful. Whether she’s painting with bright pastels or creating in grayscale, each piece celebrates the beauty of the body. Even when the pandemic hit, she and her musician husband, Toby Tomplay, were able to keep spirits high, despite their jobs not being considered essential.

While in quarantine, they started their Rony the Tiger series. During social media livestreams every Wednesday, Brown, Tomplay and a special guest chat about art and music. Tomplay plays music, while Brown sings and paints her Rony the Tiger character. She’s depicted the colorful tiger doing “normal” activities, such as going to an LSU game or the beach—allowing viewers to live vicariously through him during shutdown. And with the Rony series, it seems the couple’s work became essential during the pandemic, after all. shellibrownart.com —CAROLINE HEBERT

See Shelli Brown’s work

Browse her paintings at shellibrownart.com, and turn to page 78 of this magazine to find a print by Brown.

“Last year, when everybody was forced to shut down and stop, (art and music) was what they focused on. They wanted the music, they wanted art, they wanted to invest in art, and they wanted to invest in people. And it really was a humbling experience for us because we got to see that firsthand and be a part of it.” 32


Shelli Brown

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Toptheir of



Former athletes take sports lessons beyond game day, now as local business and community leaders



e first met them watching from the sidelines. We cheered them on as they ran marathons, made touchdowns and scored goals. We rooted for them as they broke barriers, won championships and shattered records. Here in Baton Rouge, we spend so much time consuming sports, local athletes start to feel like family. But long after they’re done with the sports world, many of them are still here, making an impact on the community. You probably know some of the big stories of local brands built by athletes.

Brandon Landry’s restaurant career has become bigger than many sports careers ever do, with nearly 50 Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux locations and counting. Marucci makes the baseball bats used by pro players and major league teams across the country, and it was founded by former MLB players Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence and LSU athletic trainer Jack Marucci. Of course, it’s hard not to think of Shaquille O’Neal, who has his hands in a long list of projects (including working on a Baton Rouge location of his Big Chicken restaurant), or even Lolo Jones, the still-active athlete who pays it forward with her Lolo Jones Foundation. But there are so many other stories like these unfolding every single day across our city. We’ve compiled a few of them for this month’s cover story. Former Southern football player Keith Tillage’s company is behind construction projects all over town—not to mention in multiple states. For Jenni Peters, helping other runners through her Varsity Sports shop means more than winning marathons or qualifying for Olympic Trials ever did. When LSU football star Darry Beckwith Jr.’s pro career didn’t pan out, he wanted to better prepare other young athletes for similar experiences entering the professional world. He started a nonprofit to train student athletes for life after sports. While they may be done with college and pro sports, all of these athletes tell 225 that playing the game changed them forever. The lessons they learned on the field inform the work they do today—and their efforts to make our community better. And in that way, sports is the gift that keeps on giving to us all.

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Building a better city

"Every aspect of my athletic life, I built on." —Keith Tillage

For former Southern football player Keith Tillage, running a construction company is not just about business—but giving back



A key was taking advantage of the benefits offered by the Small Business Administration—and finding ways to differentiate themselves. He remembers telling his dad, “If we go into commercial construction, then it eliminates a lot of competition in terms of small, minority-owned businesses.” Ken agreed, and now Tillage Construction’s many projects include building Starbucks stores (the company is on its sixth) with more to come. It’s done work for CATS, Barksdale Air Force, Southern University, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and it was part of large-scale renovations at both major airports in Dallas. Tillage and his wife of nearly 18 years, Ann, have two kids, Kameron, 14, and Kelsie, 15. They’re involved in the community, and Tillage is a major contributor to many causes, including his alma mater and helping other minority business owners. “I was always going to be fine. My kids were always going to be fine, along with my family. But it has to be more. I have to go back out and not only set standards, but be able to empower and help as many—and not only just Black-owned—but as many small, minority-owned and women contractors as I can. That’s the only way that our society is going to be what we want it to be.” Tillage pauses. “It makes the state, the country and our city just a better place. It reduces crime. Everybody wants the same thing. Everybody wants quality of life for their families, and they want to enjoy simple things. It’s all relative as to what that is, but at the end of the day, you give that opportunity, and I think our crime rate does down, education goes up, and the city just becomes a better place.” tillageconstruction.com



OOTBALL WAS HIS LIFE. It was instilled in him as the son of the Southern University coach, as a player at prep-dynamo Southern Lab, and then as a tremendous tight end for the Jaguars on a team in the late 1980s that was loaded with talent. So naturally, you’d expect the lessons he learned from sports would have strongly influenced Keith Tillage as he built Tillage Construction into something special. Yes and no. “You were in a room with a hundred other strong-willed personalities from every walk and designation of life, and you had to all work for a common goal. So every aspect of my athletic life, I built on,” Tillage says. Yet ... “We never won an SWAC championship,” Tillage says, recalling his years on the team. “We never worked together like we should have. It goes back to: I can be the most talented person and have the most talented team, but if I don’t get everybody on the same page, then we can’t be successful.” Today, though, Tillage Construction is not only successful but continually growing. It’s surpassed the goals that Tillage, now 51, set when he left the computer science business in Dallas in 2000 to join his dad, Ken Tillage—who played football at Alcorn State and moved to Baton Rouge to be the coach at Southern—and his tiny residential construction company. “I thought if it didn’t work out, I could always go back to the (computer) industry,” Tillage says with a laugh. No need, because the success has been almost unimaginable. In addition to Baton Rouge, Tillage Construction has offices in Dallas and New Orleans.


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Is there life

after sports?

IT CAN BE hard for serious athletes to transition to a lifestyle beyond the field, court, track or pool. “Playing a sport is like living in a simulated world with its own language, rules and standards,” says Tiffany Stewart, the Dudley and Beverly Coates endowed associate professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Life afterwards can be pretty disillusioning.” Stewart has been researching the need for helping athletes adjust to life after athletics. Most college athletics programs include sports psychologists, she says, but their role is to help athletes perform, not live well after their careers end. A respected psychologist in the field of physical resilience and body image, Stewart recently began a research project that looks at how athletes chart a new identity after years of practice and competition. It’s a phenomenon Stewart experienced first-hand. A former competitive gymnast in high school, Stewart’s hopes of landing a spot on a college roster were dashed after a career-ending injury. The abrupt change rattled her sense of herself. “I loved my sport. By then, I’d been doing it for almost 15 years,” Stewart says. “Coming to the realization that I couldn’t continue was devastating. I walked out of my last competition with no concept of what my eating habits, sleep and fitness routine should be to stay healthy.” Stewart says athletes need to first take time to acknowledge the loss of something that’s been part of their lives. Then, they need to embrace new routines for eating, exercising and sleeping. It’s even important to work on letting go of expectations of keeping an athlete’s body, she adds. Some athletes will crave structure, which they can replace with predictable workout routines, while others may simply miss camaraderie, which can be replicated by joining recreational teams. Ultimately, Stewart says, that new routine should be enjoyable. “It’s an opportunity to let go of the ‘shoulds,’” Stewart says, “and explore new ways to keep fit.” pbrc.edu CO



An expert in cultivating resilience among athletes and soldiers, Tiffany Stewart’s research is helping them carve new paths



Running down

a dream F

IVE DOLLARS, A T-shirt and some free Miller Lite. That’s how Jenni Peters’ running career got started. It’s probably not the way most would have envisioned the owner of the now iconic Varsity Sports shop beginning her foray into the age-old pastime. Then 25 and an LSU grad student, Peters wasn’t really much of a runner. But a friend invited her to a Fun Run on College Drive—not far from her old stomping grounds of the former Lee High School—and told her she could get a shirt and some beer for just $5 if she tagged along. And as Peters put it, “that’s what started the rest of my life.” “To tell you the truth, (running) really wasn’t a cool thing back then,” Peters recalls. “(Now) Baton Rouge is really kind of a hub of particularly high school running, with the girls and guys you see at the state championships. That definitely wasn’t the case when I started running.” Flash forward a few years later, and Peters would go on to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials four different times, ran competitively on both the Nike Racing team and U.S. Track and Field team, and was at one point in 1988 ranked in the top 20 in the world by Track and Field News. But as successful as she was, the competitive runner life just wasn’t quite for her. While she would occasionally get sponsored to participate in a race or paid for winning one, it was never a full-time income. “It was hard. I didn’t even really enjoy it that much,” Peters says. “Every run wasn’t the joy of running. It was, ‘Can I pay my car note or my mortgage?’ It was never huge money. Professional running really is not for me. I still (wanted) to be competitive and go out there and run the circuit and win some money; I just don’t want it to be my only income.” So in 2000, while she was still teaching part time at LSU,

Jenni Peters was once one of the world’s best runners. Now, she only wants her Varsity Sports shop to be a resource for other athletes Peters decided to open a small running shop in a quaint house right off Perkins Road near the Garden District. Just as her entry into the sport was casual, approachable and easygoing, Peters wanted to provide a space that offered that same mindset to others looking for a laid-back introduction into the world of running. Varsity Sports’ arrival in Baton Rouge has helped build a new running culture throughout the city. The shop hosts multiple runs every week and oftentimes hosts themed events for some added fun. The store also became a place many locals turned to during the past year’s phased shutdowns, as personal health became even more important. “We had our doors shut and we’re doing curbside delivery—what we called ‘ShoeUber’—and just trying to keep the lights on,” Peters says. “Since then, we can’t even figure it out. It’s been (busy) at all of our stores and all of our markets. People got out during COVID and realized that they enjoyed walking and they needed to stay healthy and liked being in the neighborhoods. It’s been fabulous.” Twenty-one years, four stores and countless pairs of shoes later, and that same helpful, approachable mentality still holds true when you walk through the doors of Peters’ shops. “We still are fairly casual,” Peters says. “We’re not hard selling. We don’t have our staff upsell inserts or have quotas. We’re there to help people, and I think that helps. No one wants to be sold. They want help in buying. (That) casual philosophy throughout time—from the very beginning all the way through now—maybe it’s really worked out for us.” Varsity Sports’ tagline of “Run Hard. Live Easy.” makes a lot more sense now. varsityrunning.com —MARK CLEMENTS

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“Sports create great habits.” —Darry Beckwith Jr.

lining Former football player Darry Beckwith Jr.’s nonprofit preps students for success after sports


HEN DARRY BECKWITH JR. didn’t get chosen for the 2009 NFL Draft, he was heartbroken. After suffering from a knee injury his senior year on the LSU football team and missing two games, his football career didn’t go as planned. Beckwith didn’t let the draft stop him. He played for the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent for two years and briefly practiced with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. To his dismay, though, his time in the NFL was short. After many setbacks, he turned those obstacles into lessons and started his nonprofit, the Darry Beckwith Foundation, in 2015. He wanted to share his story with student athletes and help them develop skills for life after sports. “I felt like a failure when my professional career didn’t go as I wanted,” Beckwith says. “Now I know I went through that so I can help others.” The Darry Beckwith Foundation has held workshops for high school athletes on dress etiquette, networking advice and financial literacy education. Whether it’s how to tie a tie or translate your accomplishments to a resume, Beckwith believes teaching athletes these lessons early on will provide an easier transition to adulthood and the professional world. The organization also offers youth enrichment programs, toy drives for local students and book clubs. In addition to being the president of his nonprofit, the 33-year-old is an insurance sales representative at Mike Toups-State Farm Insurance Agent in Baton Rouge. “Being an athlete and an entrepreneur go hand in hand,” Beckwith says. “Sports create great habits.” Though his football career wasn’t easy, he wouldn’t change any of it. While his career had some lows, it had many highs. He was a three-year starter for the Tigers, named one of eight finalists for the 2008 Butkus Award, which goes to the top linebacker in college football, and helped the Tigers win the 2008 BCS National Championship against Ohio State. Beckwith sees himself in many of the talented young athletes he meets through his nonprofit. His own football achievements date back to high school. Beckwith played football at Parkview Baptist High School and was recognized nationally. He was a member of Tom Lemming’s High School All-America team, rated No. 9 outside linebacker in the nation by ESPN and was named the 3A Defensive MVP in Louisiana as a senior. Driven by a deep sense of purpose, Beckwith hopes to inspire other student athletes with stories similar to his own —and motivate them to dream big and not wait to start going after their biggest goals. darrybeckwithfoundation.org —CYNTHEA CORFAH


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The community leaders


Collis TEMPLE JR. As LSU’s first Black basketball player, the legendary baller earned All-SEC honors during his senior year in 1974. After going on to play for the San Antonio Spurs, he came back to Baton Rouge to earn his master’s degree. Now a real estate developer with an eye toward helping low-income families, veterans, people with disabilities and foster children, he’s also become a civic force to be reckoned with in the community. Temple has served on multiple local boards and currently sits as a member of LSU’s Board of Supervisors. He’s also frank about the racism he endured at LSU from coaches and other players, as well as on the road for games across the South—where he often needed police escorts. His father, Collis Temple Sr., had petitioned to go to graduate school at LSU in the 1950s. But rather than allow a Black student in at that time, LSU agreed to pay for Temple Sr. to attend Michigan State University. Decades later, LSU would approach the Temple family to recruit Temple Jr. for the basketball team. Since then, two of Temple Jr.’s sons have played at LSU. “I have a responsibility to mentor and encourage particularly African-American males to go to school there and get a degree and come out and be a responsible and productive adult,” Temple Jr. told ESPN’s The Undefeated in 2017. “That is my charge.” Lolo JONES Though she grew up in Iowa, Lolo Jones came to LSU in the early 2000s to follow in the footsteps of her track idol, hurdler Kim Carson. During her time at LSU, she earned three NCAA titles and 11 All-American honors. Then came a long and well-publicized journey to the Olympics, finally making the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She returned to the Olympics in 2012, but never placed high enough to win a medal. In 2014, she shifted gears and joined the U.S. bobsledding team, making her one of the few American athletes to compete in both summer and winter Olympics. She’s still an active bobsledder today, having just won a world championship title in February with teammate Kaillie Humphries, and setting her sights on the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Despite her world-traveling athletic pursuits, Jones still calls Baton Rouge home. And she also made it the headquarters of the Lolo Jones Foundation, which aims to help single mothers, families of incarcerated loved ones and youth in extreme poverty. In the 2010s, she appeared on several reality TV shows to raise money for her foundation, including everything from Dancing with the Stars to Celebrity Big Brother. Next up for Jones is the release of her first book, Over It: How to Face Life’s Hurdles with Grit, Hustle, and Grace, which comes out in July. “I never wanted to write a book, because I knew I would have to rehash some very painful things,” Jones said in a Facebook post. “Things I know I used as motivation to achieve what I have today but to go back and really unpack it all was tough. … I hope to inspire anyone facing life hurdles to get over anything blocking your path.” —COMPILED BY BENJAMIN LEGER

1 IN 5 AMERICANS WILL DEVELOP SOME FORM OF SKIN CANCER DURING THEIR LIFETIME The three most common types of skin cancers are: Basal Cell Carcinoma- The most common form of skin cancer, can look like pink shiny bumps with rolled borders or may even appear scar like. Squamous Cell Carcinoma- The second most common, can look like a rough, crusted pink bump or a scaly red patch. Melanoma- The most dangerous, usually appears as a flat patch or raised bump, with several shades of brown, black, blue or pink, and irregular borders.


People who tan or who have had a lot of sun exposure in their lives are at an increased risk. Melanoma can strike all races and ages and can also be in places that are not exposed to the sun. The greatest risk of melanoma is in people who have: a blood relative who has had melanoma light hair and light eyes previous diagnosis of either melanoma Fair skin or non-melanoma skin cancer greater than 50 moles history of other cancers, such as breast large moles or thyroid cancer atypical (unusual) moles Examine yourself regularly to see if something new appears or if something changes. Remember to look at places you might not think to check, such as the soles of your feet. Make an appointment to see a dermatologist if you find something growing, changing or bleeding. If you have risk factors for skin cancer, you should be having regular skin checks with your dermatologist.

HOW CAN I PREVENT MELANOMA AND OTHER TYPES OF SKIN CANCER? Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30—every 2 hours Wear UV protective long sleeves/pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses Avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek shade, cover up & wear sunscreen

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The food entrepreneurs Sean CANGELOSI After graduating from Louisiana Tech in 2000, the former Bulldogs football player jumped into the food business franchise game with a Smoothie King in Ruston. That led to a handful of other Smoothie King opportunities in the Baton Rouge area—and some out-of-the-box thinking, including the brand’s first oncampus location at LSU’s Student Union and the first 24hour hospital location at Our Lady of the Lake.

for success

Matt Flynn has channeled his post-football energy into creating a hydrating product for anyone breaking a sweat

“I might not see results immediately, but if I can work harder than my competition, what I do today is going to eventually bear fruit.” —Matt Flynn on running his business, MyHy

It didn’t hamper his success, but it planted a seed for the need for a high-quality hydration product, Flynn says. As his NFL career wound down, Flynn began conducting his own research, using special equipment to collect and analyze sweat samples on scores of volunteers of all ages he recruited himself. He hired experts to help him identify the right components to create an all-natural, low-sugar liquid concentrate hydration product that can be added to a bottle of water. Flynn wanted to avoid creating a bottled sports beverage, and, as an athlete, he never enjoyed powder concentrates. In 2017, MyHy was officially born. It’s sold as liquid packets and in an ice pop form. Flynn admits that early on in business, he felt like a fish out of water. “I was Googling the most basic stuff and asking a lot of dumb questions,” he says. “The mindset of an athlete is that you expect yourself to be good at something, but I was really bad at certain things, like cold calling.” But Flynn was passionate about the science behind his product, so much so that he decided to invest in a local production facility to make it himself. And while MyHy includes athletes as its customers, Flynn is actually aiming the brand squarely at a different target market: “hard hat” employees who endure scalding temperatures on the job. Utility and plant workers, firefighters, first responders and military troops are all on Flynn’s radar. Many are already using his product. Flynn recently established online sales on his website, and is currently retailing the product in Baton Rouge at Rouses Supermarkets and Calandro’s. He is hoping to triple MyHy’s annual sales this year, and to do so, he’ll rely on the same mindset that drove his career on the field. “It sounds cliché, but it’s really about outworking your opponent,” Flynn says. “I know that I might not see results immediately, but if I can work harder than my competition, what I do today is going to eventually bear fruit.” drinkmyhy.com —MAGGIE HEYN RICHARDSON

Mike ANDERSON These days, you’re likely to think of the popular seafood restaurant when you hear the name “Mike Anderson.” But the restaurant’s namesake has a storied past at LSU, where he was an All-American linebacker on the football team in 1970. He opened the restaurant just five years later on Highland Road. It eventually moved to its current digs on West Lee Drive and added a second location in Gonzales. Brandon LANDRY We’re all familiar with the story: Two basketball players walk on to the LSU team in the mid-’90s but spend the bulk of the season concocting business ideas on the bench. Thus, WalkOn’s Sports Bistreaux was born in 2003 just south of campus, and Landry and partner Jack Warner began their successful business careers. In 2014, Warner took a buyout, and Landry began strategizing how to push the brand further. Today, Walk-On’s has 19 locations around Louisiana and nearly 30 more across the southeast. Jack WARNER Often considered the behind-the-scenes guy of the Walk-On’s duo, Warner retained a minority interest in the restaurant company after the 2014 split. The former LSU basketball player is now planning a revamp of his Schlittz & Giggles pizza concept, which has locations on Third Street and in the Perkins Road overpass area. Cameron JACKSON While Jackson might still be in his mid-20s, he’s already making waves as a small business leader. The former football player for Coastal Carolina University wasn’t sure where life would take him after college, but a trip to Jamaica and the sight of makeshift roadside grills in shipping containers gave him an idea. He opened Millennial Park in July 2020 on Florida Street, dubbed Louisiana’s first shipping container park. It houses food vendor Jive Turkey, a storefront for Sweet Jones Farms, and plenty of community-focused events. Up next for the park: a bar and daiquiri shop in the near future.



HESE DAYS, FORMER LSU and NFL quarterback Matt Flynn’s routine looks a lot different from his days on the gridiron. “I thought football had crazy hours. You’d wake up early, and work all day, and leave late at night,” Flynn says. “But I never knew how exhausted I could be with three kids under 5 and running my own company.” Following his days at LSU and a seven-year career in the NFL, the Texas native returned to his adopted home of Baton Rouge to launch MyHy, a high-quality hydration beverage. Flynn is best known for quarterbacking LSU’s 2007 BCS championship team, but it’s a lessknown career footnote that drove him to create MyHy. On the field, Flynn constantly struggled to stay hydrated, battling routine cramps, headaches and dizziness, despite consuming water and sports drinks like his teammates.

Shaquille O’NEAL It makes sense that Shaq would head to Baton Rouge to expand his new Big Chicken franchise. Started in 2018 in Las Vegas and followed just two years later by a second location in Glendale, California, the NBA legend and former LSU star’s chicken sandwich restaurant is now eyeing a Capital City spot. When Hollywood Casino expands its on-land footprint downtown later this year, expect to find the third Big Chicken location, serving up crispy chicken, shakes and more.

Jarvis GREEN The former New England Patriots defensive lineman and LSU alum went into the seafood industry after retiring from the NFL in 2010. That brought him home to the Baton Rouge area, where he launched Oceans97 and its retail line of canned shrimp patés in 2015. It’s now sold in stores nationwide, and Green divides his time between offices in the Capital City and Boston planning his next lines of seafood products. —COMPILED BY BENJAMIN LEGER

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"As a student athlete, you have to map out your time."

—Artie Varnado, on what soccer taught her about business

Building a

legacy Former LSU soccer star Artie Varnado follows in her family’s entrepreneurial footsteps by launching an accessories and apparel brand


USINESS RUNS IN Artie Varnado’s blood. Her mother was the owner of two local women’s clothing boutiques, Denise’s and Foxy’s. Her father started Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers, a longtime Baton Rouge custom clothing store, in 1974. After her father passed in 2019, her two brothers took over the shop. Surrounded by business-savvy family members, the women’s soccer player had always been inspired to one day launch her own company. In October 2020, she started Finley & Co., a functional apparel and accessories brand. She was motivated by her experiences as a


mother of three and wanted to create accessories that make parenting easier. Reflecting back on her days as a women’s soccer player at LSU, she attributes a lot of her professional skills like organization, time management and maintaining a goal-oriented mindset to lessons she learned as an athlete. “As a student athlete, you have to map out your time,” Varnado says. “You’re either in class, practice, lifting weights or doing homework. There’s always something.” The 37-year-old has played sports for as long as she can remember. In high school, she ran track and played soccer

at LSU Lab School. From 2001 to 2004, she majored in kinesiology and was a forward on the women’s soccer team at LSU. During her senior year, she was at the top of her game. Varnado started in all 20 of that season’s games and was named the team’s Offensive MVP for the third time in her career. She broke school records that still stand today, scoring the most career goals and the second-most career points in LSU history. After she graduated from LSU, Varnado transferred her dedicated work ethic and hunger for achievement from the soccer field to the professional world. She has been a physical therapist for 13 years. In March 2020, she became an area manager at Senior Therapy Solutions, where she trains patients, oversees properties and provides physical therapy services at senior assisted living facilities. Physical therapy was her first profession but not her last. When she’s not working at her full-time job or spending time with her family, she’s often juggling responsibilities for Finley & Co. When she came up with the idea to start Finley & Co., named after her 2-yearold daughter, she had multitasking mothers in mind. Varnado designs accessories like fanny packs and crossbody bags with easily accessible pouches for necessities like baby wipes, cards and cell phones.

“I wanted to help women and parents not be so bogged down by a bunch of bags,” Varnado says. She started by making hands-free diaper bags and eventually expanded to multipurpose infant car seat covers. Her products have been sold online and at local shops like H Kyle Boutique, Wanderlust by Abby and Le Mercantile de Louisiane. This summer, Varnado plans to release two new products: a waterproof infant cover for car seats and a breastfeeding cover with arm holes and a front zipper for easier mobility. Varnado isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In addition to her professional life, she and her family started nonprofit Suiting 101 in December 2020 in honor of her late father, Eugene Brown Sr. The organization aims to help at-risk and underprivileged youth through SAT and ACT test prep, mentorship programs, workshops and clothing drives. On April 17, the nonprofit held its first suit drive at Goodwood Library, where they received gently used suits to donate to reentry programs for former inmates and organizations that work with at-risk people. “I plan to build a legacy for my family,” Varnado says. “I’ve got two boys and one girl, so I want to pass down a business to each of my children.” shopfinleyandco.com —CYNTHEA CORFAH

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Batting a

thousand Pete Bush applies the College World Series’ lessons to the everyday world of finance


RESH OUT OF college, former LSU first baseman Pete Bush deployed a practical perspective as he transitioned from playing first base for the Tigers to tackling the world beyond Alex Box Stadium. “One of the great lessons of sports,” Bush says, “is that at some point in time, no matter who you are or when you play, your career is going to come to an end.” Bush’s tenure at LSU had been memorable. Playing from 1985 to 1989 under newly hired head coach Skip Bertman, Bush and his class took two trips to the College World Series in Omaha. It marked the start of LSU baseball’s stature as a winning program, and Bush was part of it. After college, Bush tried out unsuccessfully for minor league teams, then traded in his cleats for a career in financial management. Another former LSU baseball player, Wally McMakin, saw potential in the young Bush. McMakin recruited Bush to join his financial planning firm.

Bush’s time on the field might have helped him get his foot in the door, but a tireless work ethic, interest in business and natural smarts sustained his success as a financial planner. He was also approachable, having grown up as one of six kids in a blue collar family. “Mutual fund statements weren’t sitting around on our kitchen table,” Bush says. “I had no idea back then about financial planning. The only talk of money was the scarcity of it.” After working for McMakin for eight years, Bush felt he had the experience and perspective to open his own firm. With two partners, he opened Horizon Financial Group in 1999. Lessons learned from Bertman have permeated the way Bush conducts business. “One of the things I learned from Skip was the ability to flip a switch, flush disappointment and quickly move on

“One of the great lessons of sports is that at some point in time, no matter who you are or when you play, your career is going to come to an end.” —Pete Bush to the next thing,” Bush says. “In sports, you don’t have time to sit and sulk.” While Horizon’s clients represent a diversity of professions, Bush has worked with a number of baseball players. He co-wrote the book The Challenges of Big League Money to advise athletes about how to maximize, not squander, their earnings. His company also records podcasts, videos and webinars to help educate clients, many of whom are professional athletes.

“We’ve had a natural market with baseball players,” Bush says. “It’s easy for a baseball guy to recognize another baseball guy. There’s a look we all have, and we use a lot of baseball analogies.” “In the baseball world,” Bush continues, “it’s one degree separation. Everyone knows everyone.” horizonfg.com —MAGGIE HEYN RICHARDSON

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From baseball to the

big screen

While he’s no longer showing off on the diamond, Michael Papajohn is hitting home runs in the film industry

“I wouldn’t be in the movie business if it wasn’t for Coach Bertman.” —Michael Papajohn


ICHAEL PAPAJOHN WAS having a panic attack. He wouldn’t know it until a team reunion nearly three decades later, but his coach Skip Bertman could spot it from the dugout. It was 1986, and Papajohn had just become the first LSU baseball player to ever take an at-bat in the College World Series. The bright lights of Rosenblatt Stadium coupled with the intimidating stare from the ESPN cameras got to him. The LSU outfielder struck out, in his words, “looking bad.” Papajohn, who is now a stuntman, actor and documentary filmmaker, still remembers vividly what happened next. Bertman took him into the training room, away from the cameras. His coach gave him a motivating talk he’d never forget. “He didn’t have to send me back out (to play). I actually don’t think I’d be talking to you now if he didn’t,” Papajohn says. “That’s one thing about pressure—(playing for) Skip and playing for LSU, it really gets you ready for (business) because you learn how to handle pressure.” The Tigers went on to lose the game to Loyola-Marymount. But that moment has had a lasting impact on Papajohn. And it surprisingly had little to do with baseball. As well-known as Bertman is for all his accomplishments on the diamond, it was the little teaching moments like these that shaped his relationships with players. It also helps explain why the first stop Papajohn made when he got his introductory movie role was Bertman’s office. “I wouldn’t be in the movie business if it wasn’t for Coach Bertman,” Papajohn says. “I had a heart-to-heart with him, and he said, ‘Go for it, Papajohn.’ He’d say, ‘Just do what you did at LSU. Be a team player, work hard and look for some great mentors and coaching.’ I always go back to how instrumental Skip has been not only in my career, but my life.” Papajohn’s first gig in the movie industry came during the filming of Everybody’s All-American, which took place largely on LSU’s campus. The sports drama starred Dennis Quaid as Gavin Gray, a football player at a fictional Louisiana university. The producers were looking for LSU athletes with no college eligibility left to stand in and take hits during on-field scenes. Papajohn happened to be walking by the weight room and heard about the gig from his teammates. It was his last semester, and he wasn’t sure what his next steps would be after college. He decided to give it a try. “If I wouldn’t have been walking by the LSU locker room,” Papajohn says, “(I wouldn’t have) gotten picked for the part. So I started taking football hits for Dennis Quaid.” Papajohn was introduced to director Taylor Hackford, who pulled him aside after filming and gave him a trophy that reads, “World’s Greatest Hit Man 1987.” Hackford saw something he liked in Papajohn’s preparation and dedication to the role— traits that were undoubtedly instilled in him through his college baseball days— and encouraged him to look into the movie industry. The rest is history. “When they said, ‘Action,’ and we’re getting ready to do a take, even though I was new, I didn’t feel green,” Papajohn says. “I felt very calm. I felt like I was playing centerfield at LSU because I did the fundamentals so much.” Papajohn has since gone from hit man to stuntman to actor. He recently began his first endeavors as a documentary filmmaker, with several exciting projects in the works. He may have had to get pulled away from the cameras back on that fateful day at the 1986 College World Series. But in a way, that’s where his journey to the big screen all began. michael papajohn.com —MARK CLEMENTS


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On the Horizon...

Proudly Introducing The Lakes At Harveston

The Lakes at Harveston is on the horizon. Baton Rouge’s Premier Traditional Neighborhood, proudly announces The Lakes at Harveston, an architecturally-designed new home community, entwined within lakes, woods, parks, and biking/hiking trails. Enjoy our master-outfitted fitness center, the designer crafted swimming pool, a luxurious community center, an outdoor cabana with grill, and our astonishing Preservation Garden. Our Sales Center is now open displaying The Lakes at Harveston site plans for your personal selection and for discussing details on home planning. We cordially invite you to visit The Lakes at Harveston, where nature is your neighbor. Located on Bluebonnet Boulevard, near Nicholdson, just 10 minutes from LSU.

Homes from the $550s.

Cathy Cusimano, Realtor | 225-413-9801 A Wampold/Fetzer Development



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• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021 All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

TARI’S School of Dance

Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop Contemporary, and Tumbling Classes Ages 3 and up

Summer Classes

Monday June 7 — Tuesday July 27 Fall Classes begin Monday, August 2

Register Now Call for more information 225.767.4495 tarisschoolofdance@gmail.com www.tarisdance.com 9166 Perkins Road (between Bluebonnet and Essen Lane)

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I N S I D E : Rising clothing donations during the pandemic

wall flowers

The perks of

The Modern Debutante’s installations are bringing vibrancy to local events, restaurants and businesses BY JULIA-CLAIRE EVANS PHOTO S B Y CO LLIN RICHIE

LOWER AND HEDGE walls have become a huge trend at businesses and events across the country. The moveable backdrops are made of rich green synthetic leaves, color-coordinated flowers and sometimes even neon signs. At restaurants, events and businesses, they add color, personality and liveliness. And, yes, they’re just perfectly Instagrammable. You’ll probably start seeing them around Baton Rouge now more than ever, in part thanks to The Modern Debutante. Danielle Whatley and Diana Raffray launched the new venture in August 2020. Earlier this year, The Modern Debutante created a permanent installation for the bar at Soji: Modern Asian. The floor-to-ceiling design is made with tropical palm leaves. The business is also working on a design for Olly-Olly, a local children’s boutique. It was featured in the Flower Fest at Pointe-Marie last month, and it will be part of the Best Dressed Ball in August. “We like doing community things,” Raffray says. Whatley adds, “Everyone’s looking for a photo opportunity at every event, and so providing that for your guests is essential these days.” 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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Diana Raffray and Danielle Whatley started The Modern Debutante last summer.

The Modern Debutante’s services have been in demand at events like weddings and bridal and baby showers, and there’s been a growing interest in birthday installations, Raffray says. The hedge walls are the most popular and are customizable, Raffray says, and can be upgraded with neon lights. The business also creates Shimmer Walls in shades of gold, silver or purple. The metallic displays seem to move when they catch the light. The founders hope to offer even more wall styles later this year. Each wall can take anywhere from three days to three weeks to construct, depending on how many individual touches a customer wants on them. “Big shoutout to our husbands,” Whatley says, “they help us put walls together from scratch, and they’ve been helping us at every level.” Whatley and Raffray were friends in college and reconnected about five years ago when they found out they were living down the street from each other. Eventually, they got around to planning a business together. “We were thinking about the things we


liked to do, and throwing parties kept coming up,” Raffray says. “We started thinking about what we liked about parties, and it was the satisfaction and joy we got from entertaining our guests.” When they started to notice the flower-wall trend floating around social media, they decided to try their hands at it. The goal of the walls is to bring that extraspecial something to the party, Whatley says. “Having that inspiration and love for people leaving your party saying ‘I want to do that,’ is something we wanted everyone to have,” Whatley says. Now, their business is growing beyond Baton Rouge. The founders have brought flower walls to events in New Orleans and Gretna, and they have gotten requests from as far away as Natchez. No matter how big they get, though, their goal stays the same. “The walls bring that wow factor,” Raffray says. “That’s what we want. We want everyone to leave the party thinking, ‘That was really cool.’ That’s what The Modern Debutante is all about.” themoderndeb.com

The Modern De butante’s permanent tro pical installation at Soji: Modern As ian

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• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329




Preserving the school experience in a pandemic: The Dunham School leads by example


Louisiana Department of Health, the school has created the best experience possible for each student, complete with activities that keep them plugged in, connected, and supported. “There was no instruction manual for operating school during a pandemic,” Eagleton says. “The situation and restrictions seemed to change weekly, if not daily, so our teachers really had to be flexible, pivot, and keep on going. It would have been easier to say ‘no’ to all extracurricular activities and events and keep our campus completely closed off, but wherever we could, we found ways to safely have those events, whether that meant going virtual, modifying in-person events for safety, or a combination of the two.” While many schools and businesses are still struggling to recover, The Dunham School is actually growing. In addition to the school’s current enrollment of approximately 760 students in PK3-12th grade, Eagleton recently announced the addition of a twoyear-old program that will open August 2021. To learn more about The Dunham School, visit dunhamschool.org.

hen the news first broke about the coronavirus in January of 2020, The Dunham School was thoroughly prepared. As a seven-time Apple Distinguished School, Dunham had the creativity, innovation, and proficiency to nimbly transition to distance learning when it became necessary later that spring. Students and staff have since benefited from the school’s unique partnership with Ochsner Medical to allow them not only to attend school in person, but to excel For Head of School Steven Eagleton and his leadership team, the goal was always to reopen fully for the current school year. Over the summer, Dunham safely operated day camps and athletic practices and began planning in earnest for the start of school. Due to its traditionally small class sizes, campus layout, and dedicated faculty, along with health and safety protocols developed in partnership with Ochsner, The Dunham School was able to open for face-to-face learning on August 6. Remaining in compliance with the CDC, AAP, LHSAA, and the

Knowing my girls could go back to school in August and be in school continuously since has been such a blessing. As a mom, it was proving impossible to be all the things they needed during quarantine: teacher, guidance counselor, chef, PE teacher, art instructor, music teacher and librarian. The administration and teachers deserve all the credit for believing a safe environment was possible and for delivering on it. They decided learning loss wasn’t an option and because of that, my girls have thrived educationally during what’s been an otherwise challenging year for all of their other activities.

JENNA PRATHER Parent, The Dunham School

KEEPING THE WHEELS TURNING & STUDENTS LEARNING. Here are a few of the steps they took that can be easily adopted in any school or business to keep things as normal as possible, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Every family submitted a Parent Partnership & Wellness Agreement. When necessary, a clearance from the doctor and COVID test results were required before they were allowed to return. All students in grades 3-12 bring and wear an approved face mask during the school day. Students in grades PK-2 are not required. Hand sanitizing stations were created throughout the campus and students are required to bring their own hand sanitizer each day. To promote social distancing, classroom desk arrangements were adjusted to meet safety guidelines. Everyone undergoes temperature checks before the start of each school day. In the event a student manifests symptoms during the school day, they are relocated to a separate area until they are retrieved. Families are notified in an appropriate manner if anyone tests positive for COVID-19. While students continue to be served a delicious lunch, all meals are now served “grab and go” style, and the dining hall occupancy has been reduced. Large group gatherings (such as chapel, morning meetings, and similar activities) were redesigned to allow students to experience these events in their classrooms.

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M ar ga re t W ilk er so n Se xt on Sa ra h M . Br oo m

Join us for a special FREE One Book One Community Author event featuring New York Times Best-Selling author Sarah M. Broom, along with award-winning author Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. The panel-style program will include a robust discussion of each author’s book, as well as the experiences and inspirations that have shaped their work. For more information about the One Book One Community selection and program, go online to the InfoGuide at ReadOneBook.org.


14 Branches Open Conveniently 7 Days a Week Available 24/7 Online

7711 Goodwood Blvd. • ebrpl.com • 225.231.3750


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Donation overdrive Since the pandemic unfolded, a great closet purge has blanketed the Capital City’s nonprofit thrift stores with mountains of clothing, furniture and toys. So, what happens to all that stuff? BY ADR I AN E. H I R S C H


AYBE IT’S A side-effect of too much HGTV, being cooped up with the kids or simply channeling their inner Marie Kondo, but Baton Rougeans are answering COVID-19’s clarion call to clean their closets. At Here Today Gone Tomorrow, St. Vincent de Paul stores and Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana and other area donation centers, cavernous rooms burst with a floorto-ceiling jumble of antique dishes, new shoes, broken toys, DVDs and other discards. How—and why—do the nonprofits process the mess?

Measuring the moment Items donated at local thrift shops during 2020


Donation drop-off visits at Goodwill’s six Baton Rouge locations


Donated items processed by Here Today Gone Tomorrow at its Burbank headquarters



Items donated at St. Vincent de Paul’s five local stores

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Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #3

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.


Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329




This Brighton Summer Camp is an academically focused summer camp for any student with dyslexia, language-based learning difference OR students who need academic support. Choose between full day sessions or morning only sessions.

This half-day enrichment camp is open to all middle school (rising 6th graders) and high school students. Students will discover and explore a wide variety of interactive activities including:

June 1-25

Ceramics, Cooking, Drama/Filmmaking, Fishing/Archery, Game Mechanics, Survival Skills & More!

Morning only: 8am-12pm Full day: 8am-3pm

July 5-9, 12-16, 19-23 8am-12pm

Registration ends May 14

Registration ends May 14


12108 Parkmeadow Ave | Baton Rouge | 225.291.2524 Register for both camps at thebrightonschool.org

Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #3

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021 All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329


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Merle Norman Limited Edition Iconic Collection

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Although there is no centralized tracking system for donated goods citywide, all three nonprofits noticed a sizable increase in donations last year. Even when pandemic protocols shuttered retail operations, donations piled up outside. Goodwill recorded 134,000 donation drop-off visits at its six Baton Rouge locations. Here Today Gone Tomorrow processed nearly 390,000 items at its Burbank headquarters. And, St. Vincent de Paul reported an intake of about 350,000 items in its five Baton Rouge area stores. All three organizations say the numbers marked a significant increase over 2019. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul President & CEO Michael J. Acaldo says the first step to managing the mountains of inventory is finding the While many items donated to nonprofits like Here Today “highest and best use” for Gone Tomorrow are sold at the organization’s discount stores, some are diverted directly to those in need. each piece. “If there’s nothing the item to the person free of charge.” wrong with (a donated And, Goodwill frequently issues gift item), we want to give it away or sell cards to its stores to individuals and it,” he explains. “If we can’t do those families in need of disaster relief. things, then we recycle it.” Meeting the needs of these families That requires an employee to doesn’t even put a dent in the donated evaluate every item. A mint-condition inventory. So, it’s a good thing the Juicy Couture track suit or a pristine thrift store business is booming. Beanie Babies collection takes a different route from a stained shirt or beyond-repair iPod charger. Supporting a cottage While many of the usable items are industry sold at the organizations’ discount With a staff of 15 employees, “Here stores, some are diverted directly to Today Gone Tomorrow’s goal is individuals and families in need. $10,000 a week,” Wannamaker says. Recently, Here Today Gone That’s doable because many Here Tomorrow manager Chanea Today Gone Tomorrow shoppers use Wannamaker helped a client from a $20 Angel Card to get 50% off any a shelter for victims of domestic purchase. Angel Card patrons often violence. The client felt overwhelmed pay it forward, too, buying baskets of trying to provide for her teenage sons. clothing, shoes and jewelry to ship to “The abuser says nobody’s going families in Africa, Mexico or Central to help you—but don’t believe that,” America. Wannamaker assured her. “It’s a In recent years, Goodwill’s shopper struggle, but you’re going to make it. If demographic has shifted, with a new you need something, we’re here.” group increasingly coming into the St. Vincent also offers necessities to stores: women in their 30s seeking families at its dining room or homeless more than savings. shelters, and the charity will even “(They) come in to thrift, then they deliver. show off (their fashion finds) on social “(If) we’re able to document there’s media,” says Goodwill Vice President a true need,” Acaldo says, “we will get of Retail Operations Tim Salvato.


Finding the need

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What about Instagram resellers?



Stores like Goodwill have seen an increase in customers purchasing low-cost items to resell for a profit on social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram and apps like OfferUp. Despite that resale market growing, local store representatives tell 225 that donation levels are still too high for the stores to sell everything. Even usable items have short shelf lives before the stores recycle them.

“We have a lot of customers who make their income (by) purchasing our items and reselling on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace or in their own retail stores, flea markets and garage sales.” Savvy customers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the hot resale market. St. Vincent has taken to the internet to offer Hummel figurines, antiques, and other in-demand, highticket items such as RVs. Selling these high-value items means more funds to accomplish the organization’s goals. But even with the growing resale market, inventory levels remain too high to sell everything. Due to the crushing volume of incoming donations and shoppers’ demand for new merchandise, even usable items have a three-week shelf life. After they’re relegated to a sale rack for a week, the unsold merchandise is

whisked from the sales floor into the recycling bin.

Recycling and revenue Recycling doesn’t mean a loss of income. Here Today Gone Tomorrow sells some overage to a Florida broker, who distributes products in Africa. At Goodwill’s New Orleans recycling facility, unsold clothes are compressed into 1,000-pound bales and picked up by a salvage broker. Poor quality clothes may be shredded and become insulation or rags for car washes, construction, restaurants and hotels. “It’s one of our higher volume operations,” Salvato says. “We sell (the baled clothes) for less than in the retail store, but we still generate revenue.” Seemingly worthless items may hold hidden value in their components. 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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What can you donate?


Any and all items, according to the Here Today Gone Tomorrow website. Goodwill says it welcomes gently used clothing, shoes, books, electronics, housewares and more, and St. Vincent de Paul Stores says there is always a need for donations of furniture, clothing, appliances and household goods. In fact, even broken or damaged items have a use, store representatives tell 225. They can be repaired, repurposed or recycled. So when in doubt, don’t throw it out.

“You’re throwing a lamp away because it doesn’t work,” Acaldo says. “But, we have a recycler who buys cords for copper.” And, the stores’ thriftiness extends beyond donated items themselves. “People bring us a lot of things in boxes, and we recycle the cardboard,” Acaldo says. “The less we put in our dumpster, the less our garbage costs.”

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If there’s anything better than keeping unwanted items out of the landfill, providing necessities to the families in need and stimulating small business, it’s reinvesting the proceeds from those sales in community services. Here Today Gone Tomorrow accepts donations on behalf of Cat Haven, IRIS Domestic Violence Center and 75 other local churches, schools and other organizations. “When those items are sold, half of that sale goes to that organization,” Wannamaker explains. “So, from start to finish, proceeds go back to the community.” Typically, the local St. Vincent de Paul stores bring in $1 to $2 million a year. After expenses, the nonprofit clears 5% to 10% to devote to its mission.

“It’s a win for the environment. It’s a win for our cost. And, it’s a win for the people who are recycling these items,” Acaldo says. “And, if we get a dollar out of recycling income, we’re able to feed somebody, fill a prescription or provide a school uniform.” In 2019, Goodwill’s Capital City stores’ revenue totaled $7.5 million. Some of those funds pay the salaries of its 100 Baton Rouge employees, and they also support a regional job training program for individuals with disabilities as well as re-entry training programs for Louisianans in work release programs, recovery houses and residential release centers. So, if you still need inspiration to finish—or start—your spring cleaning, remember: There’s a world of good lurking in the back of your closet. Expensive Christmas gifts from your ex, broken belts and single socks can do more than just suck up valuable space. They can spark joy and make a real impact in the community—not to mention serve as a deduction on your taxes. “If you have anything you can no longer use, bring it to us,” Salvato says. “We can always use it to generate jobs and generate revenue. Don’t be afraid to donate.”

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LEARN | CONNECT | GROW This EXCLUSIVE Program is for rising executives or small business owners who want to take their leadership to the next level.



FALL 2021


LEADERSHIP and LEARNING are indispensable to each other. —JOHN F. KENNEDY

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Issue Date: May 2021 Ad proof #2

• Please respond by e-maŠ or fax with your approval or minor revisÚns. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revisÚn requests are received within 24 hours. • AdditÚnal revisÚns must be requested and may be subject to productÚn fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR $10K DRIVEWAY WINNER! The Sandusky family loves spending time playing with their children on their new driveway.



DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR CURB APPEAL? CALL OR VISIT OUR SITE FOR A FREE ESTIMATE! 17534 Old Jefferson Hwy, Ste A | Prairieville, LA | 225.290.4800 | jrconstructionsolutions.com | E Q 56

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I N S I D E : Restaurant patios are here to stay / Recipes for mom

‘In tacos we trust’


The quirky vibe and fun flavors of Gov’t Taco

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Thoracic Surgeons Emily Cassidy, MD and Nicholas LeBlanc, MD represent a team of 18 dedicated robotic surgeons.

Surgically Superior. Robotically Advanced. When you hear the term robotic surgery, what do you imagine? Eleven years ago, we imagined a program that would change the future for our communities. Today, our team of incredibly skilled surgeons have practiced their craft religiously and become the epicenter for robotic training in the Gulf South region, and a recent expansion of robotic surgery services at Our Lady of the Lake Ascension. The Our Lady of the Lake Robotic Surgery Institute is the result of their dedication to excellence. Our expert surgeons treat a broad range of surgical conditions — from advanced cancer treatment to hernia and gallbladder removal to surgical weight loss. Their expertise has helped train hundreds of surgeons across the nation and earned them numerous awards and recognition. But what means the most? The impact these surgeries have on the daily lives of our patients. With less scarring, shorter recovery times and less complications, robotic surgery is leading the way in caring for our communities. For more information and to view our roster of dedicated surgeons, visit ololrmc.com/robotics

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TA ST E / /


Gov’t Taco B Y D.J. B E AU T ICIA / / PHOTOS B Y COLLIN R IC H IE Our food critic’s name may be false, but the credentials are not. This gastronome has studied the history, cultivation, preparation, science and technology of food for more than 30 years.

govttaco.com 5621 Government St. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

MY FIRST IMPRESSION of Gov’t Taco was one of delight. I loved the upcycling of an old building on a onceignored corner of Government Street. A large outdoor tent in front partially obscured the restaurant’s signage, but it was gratifying to see COVID-19 was being taken seriously with outdoor seating and prominent warning signs on the door. Last year, Gov’t Taco left its tiny digs at the now-defunct White Star Market, so I was curious what it might have in store in a larger space. Inside, the decor is minimalist with tons of dark, moody tones and very little bright color. The decor is a take on iconic American imagery and political themes, giving diners something to contemplate before ordering. Naturally, the menu focuses on tacos, but we were excited to see seafood and vegetarian options amongst the swine and bovine. We began with an appetizer, dubbed The Boston Beet Party. Gov’t Taco’s version of hummus was shockingly pink from the beet tahini and was punctuated with a swirl of chimichurri and crunchy pickled jicama. It was seriously flavorful. Fried flour tortilla chips rather than corn are always a welcome indulgence and made a beautiful pairing with this dip, even though they were somewhat greasy on our visit. Still, I couldn’t resist the appetizer’s delicious charms. Another side option, The BeanGeoisie, was a sweeter bowl of beans than I was expecting, but it had a nice heat to finish off the mole-infused flavors. This hearty serving would go perfectly with some white rice and a touch of hot sauce to quell the sugar. Moving on to the tacos, I was initially overwhelmed by the overt tartness of the Buffalo Bill’s sauce on the fried buffalo chicken. A second bite did nothing for me, despite the

THE BASICS: Local food personality Jay Ducote and his team took the Gov’t Taco brand into a brick-and-mortar restaurant space in November 2020. The Mid City hangout plays up a lot of the popular tacos that worked in its former White Star Market space, and adds a large cocktail lineup and a variety of sides and happy hour snacks to the roster. WHAT’S A MUST: Dip some tortilla chips into the Boston Beet Party, a spin on hummus with beet tahini and swirls of chimichurri. For the tacos, the Bovine Bureaucracy with shredded coffee-chile beef is always a favorite. Or go the vegetarian route with the Operation Molé, featuring roasted sweet potatoes smothered in a complex mole sauce.

A spread of tacos isn’t complete without Gov’t Taco’s takes on margaritas, palomas and other tequilaand mezcal-based cocktails.

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TA ST E / /

blue cheese cream and addition of cabbage and carrots, and I abandoned the dish. Thankfully the Bovine Bureaucracy of shredded coffee-chile beef more than made up for that miss. Dollops of cumin crema and punches of pickled jalapeno rounded out this tasty three-biter. Equally meaty and satisfying was the Uncle Swine. Described as orange-cherrychile-braised pork, the braising liquid was apparent but dominated by chile powder over other seasonings. I didn’t mind the intense chile flavor at all—it was delicious. A dusting of cotija cheese added great salinity throughout. I purposefully saved the two vegetarian choices for last, thinking they would be my favorites. The Magna Carrot had an interesting grassiness to the cane-glazed carrots that complemented the earthy black bean base. Goat cheese was nearly overshadowed on this taco, but the sprinkling of pepitas elevated the crunch factor. I was most looking forward to the Operation Molé, and I wasn’t disappointed. Piquant mole sauce coated but never smothered the roasted sweet potatoes. Crispy and airy quinoa was a surprise, although it soon got lost beneath the weightiness of the other ingredients. Thrilled with my final vegetarian bites, I was full and happy.


The Operation Molé taco smothers roasted sweet potatoes in a mole sauce and finishes with crispy quinoa and crunchy shallots.

The restaurant’s take on hummus, the Boston Beet Party, gets its shocking pink color from beet tahini.

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Don’t skip dessert. Gov’t Taco was serving up a vegan Key lime sugar cookie and Mexican hot chocolate cookie on our visit.

The coffee and chile braised beef of the Bovine Bureaucracy is accented by a house hot sauce, pickled red onions and jalapenos.

Dessert offerings are limited to two cookie and two ice cream options. We went with the cookies. Though I’ve never personally been a fan of vegan baked goods, our server convinced me I wouldn’t be disappointed with the Key Lime Sugar Cookie. A crisped bottom with a soft and pleasingly chewy center made these really stand out. The flavor was mild with just enough sweetness to satisfy, and a sprinkle of granulated sugar rounded out this truly exceptional treat. Sweetness was definitely not lacking in the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie. Nor was the pepper that lingered in the back of my throat. Subtle cinnamon enhanced the crunchy chocolate exterior while melted chocolate chunks added ooey goodness. Though fantastic—and I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this— the chocolate cookie was categorically defeated in the dessert round by the vegan sugar cookie. I was seduced by Gov’t Taco with its interesting flavors and inventive ingredient combinations. Somehow all the craziness worked and blended together splendidly. Even that vegan dessert. With a full bar, provocative cocktail menu and scrumptious tacos, this is a jovial spot to fill your belly—whether in its stylized dining room or under the tent.

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225.925.8710 • ROTOROOTERBR.COM LMP: 5430 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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The patio preference

By Maggie Heyn Richardson

AS THEY WERE planning their new restaurant, SoLou, which opened on Perkins Road in mid-March, partners Peter Sclafani, Kiva Guidroz and Michael Boudreaux made a key decision about the spot’s existing patio. The dreamy space under sprawling live oak trees featured a large outdoor bar, part of the Caribbean theme that defined its former tenant, The Rum House. The SoLou partners saw the chance for something they considered more important. They removed the bar, and replaced it with additional seating. “With what’s happened,” Sclafani says, “having more seating outside seems like the right thing to do right now.” Before the pandemic, the rooftop bars installed at the The Chimes and now-closed Bumsteers, and the trail-blazing elevated parklet created by Cocha, seemed like exciting exceptions. They were glimpses into a slowly changing dining landscape in a city that had generally thumbed its nose at eating outside. Until recently, the perception had been that it was too hot and humid to dine outdoors in the summer, and too damp and cold during the winter. The brief comfortable days of spring and fall weren’t enough to warrant the investment in outdoor dining options. But now, more restaurant operators are giving permanent patios serious consideration, especially those who are in the midst of opening new establishments or making changes to existing ones. More diners want to dine al fresco nowadays, having grown accustomed to the idea during the pandemic.

They’re finding vast and varied options, ranging from temporary structures erected to help restaurants navigate COVID-19 restrictions for indoor dining, to a growing number of permanent plaza-like additions. Throughout, the use of fans, misters and heaters have made outdoor dining a pleasant, year-round option. “I think it’s become part of the way we think about operations these days,” says Bistro Byronz partner Emelie Alton. “You can’t really consider not doing it. We wouldn’t have chosen a location that didn’t provide some opportunity for outdoor seating. It’s critical.” The Willow Grove locations of Bistro Byronz and Pizza Byronz both feature outdoor dining. But at the new Mid City location of Bistro Byronz, underway in the former White Star Market, Alton says there will be considerably more outdoor tables. She and her team plan to arrange tables along the breezeway between the restaurant and the adjacent building, extending them back toward the complex’s parking lot. “We’re working on making it feel more integrated into the overall restaurant space, and not like an afterthought,” Alton says. “We’re going to add landscaping, and it’ll be a dedicated section.” While the former location of Bistro Byronz on the east end of Government Street included a small outdoor patio, it wasn’t strategically located, Alton says. This time, there will be stronger logistical flow between inside operations and the tables outside. Around town, open air dining options continue to grow. Leola’s, the new restaurant that recently moved


Have outdoor dining options become a permanent consideration for local restaurants?

DiGiulio Brothers Italian Café turned part of its existing parking lot into an outdoor seating area during the pandemic. Now, using the former Rama space that owners purchased next door, they'll create a beer garden-style atmosphere and additional parking.


A Vietnamese take on the traditional crawfish boil that’s found popularity in Houston and New Orleans. Now, it’s gaining a following at Baton Rouge restaurants like Chow Yum Phat, Soji and Beausoleil Coastal Cuisine. The cooking method includes adding lemongrass and plenty of citrus to the boil seasoning. Once cooked, the crawfish are doused in a butter sauce flecked with more lemongrass, garlic, peppers and other seasonings.



Beausoleil’s Viet-Cajun crawfish appetizer




Number of toppings on the Caribbean Chicken & Mango pizza at Pizza Artista, which opened in late March near Sprouts on Perkins Road. Co-founder Scott McKlaskey says the restaurant’s specially developed crust is built to withstand the pizza’s toppings of chicken (or steak), feta, mozzarella, pineapple, mango, cilantro, fresh lime, garlic and a balsamic glaze. pizzaartista.com

New food truck alert MEDITERRANEAN FOOD TRUCK Abu Omar opened Easter weekend on Coursey Boulevard. The brand began as a food truck in Houston back in 2011 and has since expanded to more than 20 food truck and bricks-and-mortar locations. Baton Rouge marks Abu Omar’s 24th location. Its signature item is a shawarma wrap made with halal chicken or beef, longcut pickles and a garlic-based sauce served on tortilla bread. The restaurant also serves kabobs, sandwiches and falafel. abuomarhalal.com

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Issue Date: April 2021 Ad proof #1 TA ST E / /

• Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless revision requests are received within 24 hours. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2021. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

into the spot vacated by Yvette Marie’s in the Circa 1857 complex, is taking advantage of the vast patio space outside. Owners LeAnn and Corey Ringe increased outdoor seating significantly when they took over earlier this year. Outdoor dining is also plentiful throughout Electric Depot, where spots like City Roots and Boru Ramen include lots of outdoor tables on large patios. Makers, the Lebanese restaurant that opened late last year on Lee Drive, is planning to add covered outdoor seating at the entrance. At DiGiulio Brothers Italian Café, a beer garden-style outdoor patio will soon be part of the longstanding restaurant. Owner Mike Johnson says just before the pandemic hit, he and partner Richard Cole were able to purchase the property next door, where the now-closed Thai restaurant Rama operated. Their motivation at the time was to use the space for additional

parking, but their vision for the site has grown to include a permanent patio. “We’re living right smack in the middle of a paradigm shift when it comes to outdoor dining,” Johnson says. During the pandemic, Johnson increased the number of outdoor tables immediately in front of his restaurant from around 6 to 18, taking over a portion of the parking lot to do so. The planned terraced area, which Johnson hopes to complete before football season, will seat about 40. Despite doubling his footprint, Johnson says he has no plans to expand the existing structure that holds the 35-year old restaurant. “I can’t change anything about the restaurant. People will say the food doesn’t taste the same,” Johnson says. “But we can add more outdoor dining. People are just really into it now.”

NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED A goal and some serious commitment will do.

We Take Your Health Personally Take the first step in a healthier direction by scheduling your initial consultation. When SoLou took over the former Rum House location, the outdoor bar was cleared out for additional patio seating.

City Pork adds a location THE CITY PORK family is set to add to its roster of locations this May when it takes over the Adrian’s Restaurant & Bar spot at Highland Park Marketplace. Owner Stephen Hightower will lease the building from Juban’s Restaurant Group, which closed Adrian’s nearly a year ago during the pandemic. With the larger footprint, Hightower plans to bring back some previous City Pork concepts, such as menu items from its former Kitchen & Pie and Deli & Charcuterie restaurants. citypork.com



“Even if the restrictions are completely lifted, I think we’re still going to aim for outside (for live music). You can take the restrictions away, but that doesn’t mean people are going to be completely comfortable.”

—La Divina senior front-of-house staff Brennan Haggard. While the state loosened restrictions on indoor performances in March, many local restaurant owners said they were sticking to outdoor performances for the time being.

Call (225) 928-0486.





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For Mom It’s time to wow the mother figure in your life with a French bistro-style lunch and a show-stopping dessert B Y T R ACE Y KO CH A N D ST E P HA N I E R I E G E L P H OTOS B Y A M Y S H UT T

On the menu • Croque Madame • Spring Greens with French Vinaigrette • French 75 • Classic French Napoleon Recipes by Tracey Koch


MAY IS A time to honor our mothers. Now more than ever, we like to take every opportunity to celebrate the ones we love—whatever the occasion! Some of our favorite childhood memories include traveling with our mother and seeing wonderful new places through her eyes. Once we grew up and had kids of our own, we continued the tradition of family travel to interesting places, both far and near. Being able to share travel experiences as children with our mother—and now as adults with our own children—is

something we both dearly cherish. We may not be able to travel as much as we would like to at the moment, so this Mother’s Day menu is inspired by a favorite place for all of us. A casual French bistro-style luncheon transports us all back to a memorable trip to Paris. Whether you’ve been to France or not, this is a great holiday meal to share with your family. Enjoy it while reminiscing over old photos, laughing at nostalgic stories and making more memories together with those you love.

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Croque Madame Is there a bistro in France that doesn’t feature a Croque Madame or Croque Monsieur on the menu? Probably not. This decadent, hot ham-and-cheese sandwich is so delicious, you will think there is much more to making such a casual, hearty dish than there actually is. The sandwiches are topped with a creamy bechamel sauce and broiled to a golden brown. The difference between the Madame and the Monsieur is that the Madame is served with a lovely fried egg on top. (We went that route for our take.)

Servings: 6 FOR THE BECHAMEL 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup whole or 2% milk ½ teaspoon salt Pinch of pepper Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

1. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir the mixture over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue whisking until smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue mixing over medium heat until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

3. Turn off the heat and season the sauce with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set the sauce aside while you assemble the Croque Madames. ASSEMBLY Dijon mustard 12 slices hearty sandwich bread (we recommend a sliced French boule from Whole Foods) 1½ pounds good-quality deli ham 6 thin slices Swiss or Gruyere cheese Bechamel sauce Butter 6 eggs Salt and pepper to taste

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1. Heat the broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Spread a little Dijon mustard over 6 slices of the bread. Place 4 to 5 slices of the ham on top of each piece of bread followed by a piece of cheese.

3. Smear a thin layer of bechamel over the

remaining slices of bread and place them on top to close the sandwiches. (Note: Save some sauce for step 5!)

4. Heat the butter in a large skillet and,

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working in batches, grill the sandwiches. Add a little more butter as you go if the skillet gets too dry.

5. Transfer the Croque Madames to the lined baking sheet and spread the tops with 1 tablespoon each of the remaining bechamel.

6. Place them under the broiler until the tops are golden and bubbly. Turn off the broiler and leave them in the oven to stay warm.

7. In a separate skillet, heat a little more

butter. Add the eggs, 2 or three at a time, and fry them until the whites are totally set but the yolks are still a little runny.

8. Sprinkle the fried eggs with a little salt and pepper. Use a spatula to place them on top of each Croque Madame. Serve immediately.

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Spring Greens with French Vinaigrette

French 75 This is a classic cocktail served in bistros and bars all over France (and easy to find at Baton Rouge restaurants and bars, too). It was made popular during the first world war. Because of its potency, it was named for the 75-mm field gun French soldiers used in battle. It is a refreshing, sparkling gin cocktail with a hint of citrus. It is a great way to start off a festive meal.

Because the Croque Madame is such a hefty sandwich, we like to serve it with a light green salad to help cut the richness of the cheese and cream sauce. The vinaigrette provides bright and tart flavors from the lemon juice and red wine vinegar with the more savory notes of the Dijon mustard and shallots.

Servings: 6 2 tablespoons minced shallots 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper ½ cup olive oil 8 to 10 ounces spring green mix

Servings: Makes 1 cocktail 1 ounce gin 1 ounce fresh lemon juice ½ ounce simple syrup 2 to 3 ounces Champagne

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.

1. Place the minced shallots into a small

2. Vigorously shake. Strain it into

2. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon

3. Top with 3 ounces of chilled Champagne and serve.

mixing bowl.

a Champagne flute

mustard, salt and pepper until well combined.

3. Continue mixing as you slowly add the olive oil until everything is incorporated.

4. Chill the dressing until you are ready to serve. Toss it over the spring greens.

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Classic French Napoleon The French are known for their desserts. One of our all-time favorites is a classic French Napoleon. It features perfectly balanced layers of buttery, flaky puff pastry with a rich, sweet pastry cream. While we have always enjoyed Napoleons, they seemed very intimidating to make at home. However, after a little research—and with the help of puff pastry found in the freezer at most grocery stores—this dessert turns out to be relatively easy to prepare. And it‘s just as good as some of the ones we had in France. We promise: Making a French Napoleon takes minimal effort, but it is sure to impress your guests.

Servings: 6 Frozen puff pastry sheets Pastry cream (recipe follows) Powdered sugar and chocolate syrup (for decorating)


1. Thaw the puff pastry according to the package directions.

2. Heat the oven to 400

degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Carefully unfold the puff pastry sheets and cut them into thirds using the creases in the dough as your guide. 4. Place 6 pieces of puff pastry

dough onto the lined baking sheet, making sure to give 1/4 inch or so of space between each piece.

FOR THE CREAM 1½ cups whole or 2% milk 1 egg 2 egg yolks ½ cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch ¼ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon cold butter 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4. Turn the mixer to low. Carefully

1. In a heavy sauce pot, heat the milk over

6. Once the pastry cream is thick,

and slowly pour in ½ cup of the warmed milk into the egg mixture. Mix until it is well incorporated.

5. Turn off the mixer. Slowly pour

medium heat until it just begins to steam. Turn the heat down to low.

2. Place the egg, yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large mixing bowl.

5. Prick holes all over each piece of dough using a fork. Lay another piece of parchment over the dough and then place another baking sheet on top to help prevent the dough from puffing up too much as it bakes

3. Use an electric mixer to whip this

6. Bake the dough covered

1. Place 2 of the baked puff pastry sheets

for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the top baking sheet and layer of parchment and reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees. Continue baking for another 4 to 5 minutes or until golden.

7. Remove the puff pastry from the oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling.

mixture until it becomes light in color and forms a “ribbon” when it runs off the beater.

the egg mixture into the sauce pot with the remaining warm milk over low heat. Whisk the pastry cream until it starts to thicken. Keep stirring constantly as it heats to make sure it thickens evenly.

remove it from the heat and strain into a bowl. Stir in the tablespoon of butter and vanilla until the butter is melted and all is well blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper directly over the surface of the pastry cream and chill it for several hours or overnight.


side by side on a serving platter.

two pieces of puff pastry. For the best results, place the Napoleons into the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

2. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of the

pastry cream down the middle of each pastry sheet.

3. Gently place a second piece of puff

4. Top this layer with the remaining

pastry on top of each. Carefully spoon another 3 to 4 tablespoons of the pastry cream down the middle to create a second layer.

5. Before serving, dust the tops of the Napoleons with powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Use a serrated knife to slice the Napoleons for individual servings.


and the livin’s easy

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Your Adventure

This Month [ M A Y ]





May 1 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

May 15 brec.org/spotlightevents

May 19 | 3-6 p.m.

Forest Community Park


Chicot State Park

May 1 | 8 a.m.-2 p.m.


Hamilton Ave. Park May 8 | 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


Lovett Road Park

May 14 | 5:30-8:30 p.m.


Various Locations


Milford Wampold Memorial Park May 15 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m.


Palomino Dr. Park

May 15 | 9:30-11:30 a.m.


Highland Road Park Observatory May 15 | 3-11 p.m.

Capital One Tennis Center at BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park




May 14 | 5-9 p.m.

May 15 | noon

May 14 | 4-8 p.m.

Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Liberty Lagoon

May 15 | 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Liberty Lagoon


May 21 | 6-8 p.m.


Hooper Road Park May 21 | 7-9 p.m.


Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center May 22 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Forest Community Park May 29 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Forest Community Park

BREC.ORg/thismonth BREC does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, veteran status or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.

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I N S I D E : A music professor’s wind instrument business / Arts and music events




Add some Southern flair to your reading list for those long, hot summer days

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BOOKS John and Michelle Cavalier

Expert picks



WHILE THE PANDEMIC downtime had us all diving into books and tackling that personal collection gathering dust on the shelf, it created a different situation for small bookstores. John Cavalier of Cavalier House Books says he had to alter the frequency of book orders for the downtown Denham Springs shop he runs with his wife, Michelle. Through the shutdown and the socially distant days that followed, customer visits dropped, and the bookstore decreased the amount of titles it ordered to fill its shelves. “On a normal day, getting the right book to the right reader is what I live for,” Michelle said in a blog post at the height of the pandemic. And so, much like other businesses did, Cavalier House pivoted to digital, hosting virtual book clubs and author talks, and providing online ordering and shipping for local avid readers. Today, John and Michelle are once again hoping for a better fall. “A big question mark on our minds now is events for the fall,” John says, such as in-person author visits and much bigger events like the Louisiana Book Festival. Coincidentally, the bookstore was set to be an official vendor for the festival in 2020 before COVID-19 scrapped those plans. John says their fingers are crossed that the festival can return in some form this fall. And now that restrictions are loosening, the lure of a local bookstore and its irreplicable and inviting atmosphere might have us all browsing the shelves again soon. In the meantime, we asked the Cavalier House family to offer up some ideas for good reads this summer that celebrate Louisiana and the South. Read on for their picks, as well as more suggestions from the 225 family. cavalierhousebooks.com


The Cavalier House team on new Southern reads

The homegrown bookshop Cavalier House Books sits on Range Avenue in Denham Springs’ downtown antiques shopping district.


Choices from Cavalier House

Summer of Stolen Secrets

When I Was an Alligator

By Julie Sternberg

By Gayle Webre and Drew Beech

Native New Yorker Catarina is spending the summer in Baton Rouge with a grandmother she’s never met. Nothing is going according to plan as these two worlds collide, until Cat finds a secret room full of family history and begins to learn the truth of her grandmother’s legacy. An absolutely pivotal read for local families, especially when paired with We Were Merchants by Julie’s father, Hans Sternberg. (Comes out in May)


A gorgeous book and fun to read aloud with the kids. It’s about a curious Cajun girl transforming into a series of wetland creatures. Imagination and ecology in a brilliant package! (Released in October 2020)

The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories

The Girls in the Stilt House

The Heart Principle

By Kelly Mustian

By Helen Hoang

By Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Lovers of Where the Crawdads Sing, we have your next read! A novel of friendship and isolation in 1920s Mississippi deep in the swamp off the Natchez Trace. (Paperback released in April)

Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient is the book that turned me into a romance reader, and I cannot wait to read The Heart Principle this summer! A steamy romance about becoming the person you were meant to be beyond others’ expectations of you. (Comes out in August)

Short stories from a native New Orleanian that offer the full breadth of the culture of the Crescent City. (Comes out in August)

Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana By Brian K. Mitchell, Barrington S. Edwards, Nick Weldon A graphic novel that shares the story of Oscar Dunn, America’s first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor. Largely overlooked, Dunn’s story is told in a nuanced way in a format that makes it accessible to all. (Released in January)

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Staff picks

MAY 15 Learn more about the One Book One Community pick for 2021, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House, with an author talk and panel discussion at the Main Library at Goodwood. Broom’s book recounts her family’s struggles in New Orleans East. ebrpl.com

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share what we’re reading this summer

The House Uptown

The Wife Upstairs

Squeeze Me

By Melissa Ginsburg

By Rachel Hawkins

“I’m on the library’s waitlist for this mystery set in New Orleans. After losing her parents, a 14-year-old is sent to Louisiana to live with her artist grandmother. She quickly realizes her grandma might be suffering from dementia—and that her family has more dark secrets than she realized. I’m eager to see how the story unravels and how the Crescent City itself is characterized.” (Released in March) —Jennifer Tormo, 225 editor

“What happens when you take a classic like Jane Eyre and move it from the moors of 19th-century northern England to a wealthy neighborhood in modern-day Birmingham, Alabama? That’s what I intend to find out this summer, because I have this book at the top of my reading list. Let’s just say little Jane is not all we are expecting her to be!” (Released in January) —Kelli Bozeman, inRegister editor

“The always irreverent Carl Hiassen is one of my favorite beach read authors, and I can’t wait to break into the paperback version of Squeeze Me, his latest wacky south Florida tale, complete with Burmese pythons, a gonemissing socialite and the president of the United States.” (Paperback comes out in May) —Maggie Heyn Richardson, 225 features writer

By Carl Hiassen

Jean Lafitte Revealed

ALL MONTH The Louisiana Art & Science Museum brings a new perspective on light with its “Experimental Light: Alyce Simon &

Eva Lee” exhibit, which features digital animations and works made with a particle accelerator. lasm.org

ALL MONTH The LSU Museum of Art presents the work of Black artists Radcliffe Bailey, Madelyn SneedGrays and others in “Collection Spotlight: Recent Acquisitions by Black Artists.” The collection addresses the underrepresentation of Black creatives. lsumoa.org

By Ashley Oliphant and Beth Yarbrough “I’m a sucker for deep dives into history that peel away the layers of legend and rumors. For anyone who has ever heard the stories of this famed pirate’s exploits in New Orleans or the claims of pirate ancestry among residents of Grand Isle, this is sure to offer new insights into a historical figure who always seemed so close to our local hearts yet still shrouded in mystery.” (Released in March) —Benjamin Leger, 225 managing editor

MUSIC BEST BETS MAY 6 Baton Rouge’s own Worth Powers is bringing his outlaw country and indie folk sound to La Divina Italian Cafe. Find the event on Facebook

MAY 20 Jam out to a show by Louisiana fiddler Amanda Shaw and the Cute Boys at the Shaw Center’s River Terrace. manshiptheatre.org

MAY 13 The Manship Theatre hosts Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra for the River City Jazz Masters Series on the Shaw Center’s River Terrace. manshiptheatre.org

MAY 28 Baton Rouge’s Charles Brooks, the only four-mallet vibraphonist in Louisiana, performs on Chorum Hall’s patio for the Arts Council’s Jazz Listening Room series. artsbr.org




No cash value. New customers only. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer Code: AD50 Limited Time Offer.


Call today to schedule your first clean.





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A reed apart

Local music professor builds a business out of crafting delicate reeds for oboe players and their notoriously high-maintenance instruments

By Maggie Heyn Richardson // Photos by Collin Richie

Everette Scott Smith teaches the oboe at Southeastern Louisiana University and runs the shop Chemical City Reeds Woodwind Specialists in Baton Rouge.


14th annual

Award Dinner

THURSDAY, JUNE 10 at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge A six course wine and food pairing honoring

The Pizzolato Family

2020 Recipients of the Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement Award 6 pm Cocktails, 7 pm Dinner $200 per person, tables of 8 available Entertainment • Live Auction Black tie optional

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TO THE UNINITIATED, the oboe is just another instrument in a symphony orchestra. But to insiders, it’s equal parts challenging, quirky and beautiful. So pure is its pitch that orchestras begin their tuning process to the oboe’s A note. Mellow and slightly nasal, the instrument has been described as resembling a duck—if that duck were a songbird. But to tease out the oboe’s unique sound, several factors must converge, and none is more important than the quality of its reed. A subpar reed makes the oboe wheeze and whine—sounding more duck call than duck song. And here’s what makes it quirky. The reed of an oboe is nothing like that of other woodwind instruments, such as the saxophone or clarinet. “Oboes are one of the few woodwinds that require a double reed. Bassoons are another,” says Everette

Scott Smith, a Southeastern Louisiana University professor of oboe. “They’re outliers. Their reeds are notoriously delicate, temperamental and very personal to the musician.” That’s why in addition to teaching oboe, Smith opened a specialty shop in Baton Rouge, where he makes high-quality double reeds by hand. Chemical City Reeds Woodwind Specialists, which he started in 2016, is one of the few shops like it in the Gulf South. The closest similar establishment is in Dallas. “Reeds are a big reason why a lot of young musicians abandon their instruments,” Smith says. “This is a way I can help keep students playing.” Chemical City Reeds has grown to also sell a variety of woodwind instruments, sheet music and supplies. Smith teaches private music lessons here, and he teaches students how to

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at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge 7-10 pm $95 per person

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make their own reeds. Those who stick with the oboe will need to know how, he says. Unlike reeds that rest against a mouthpiece, double reeds protrude like a straw. They are formed from two narrow layers of a bamboolike material honed until perfectly matched, then laced together at the base. The reed’s tip comes together in two paper-thin layers. Between them, you can just make out the small pocket of air where the musician blows, creating the low, robust sound that makes these instruments musically distinct and structurally high maintenance. As musicians become more serious about playing oboes or bassoons, they need to find a source for good reeds, which are often replaced daily, and can make all the difference in quality of sound, Smith says. Good double reeds can’t be bought in bulk. They must be sourced from a specialty maker, or made by the musician. “When you’re studying oboe [in college], about half of the curriculum is learning to make your own reeds,” Smith says. “If you’re playing a lot, they’ve got about a 7-hour life, and some schools of thought believe you should make a new reed every day.”

At his studio, Smith makes reeds from tube cane, processed from the Arundo donax, a hardy plant grown in the south of France. He splits the tube down the middle, carefully honing two 70 millimeter-long pieces with small manual vices and hand tools. The process is intricate and varies globally. American double reeds, for example, are carved with a higher level of detail than European ones, Smith says. Career oboists will master carving reeds that suit their own mouths, their styles of play and even their local climate conditions, since double reeds are finicky about humidity levels. For his part, Smith makes reeds for young musicians, as well as more experienced ones who need a backup supply. From time to time, Smith has found himself filling orders for an oboist in a panic before a big audition. “Once I had to leave some reeds in the mailbox at 11 o’clock at night,” Smith recalls. “The great thing about double reed instruments is you have all the control in the world to make them sound beautiful,” he continues. “But that’s also the worst thing, that you have all the control in the world. It’s all up to you.” chemicalcityreeds.com

Smith crafts double reeds for oboes using bamboo-like material and a steady hand. The delicate pieces have a short life for regular performers, but make all the difference in sound quality.

225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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CELEBRATE YOUR MAMAS Head to the Louisiana Culinary Institute to treat your mom to a Mother’s Day Tea Party. Chef Jeanne Mancuso will take you and your mom through the kitchen to learn how to make blueberry scones, chicken salad and more—a perfect gift from sons and daughters. lci.edu



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MAY 16: Pelicans vs. L.A. Lakers at Smoothie King Center, smoothiekingcenter.com


LET’S PLAY BALL Bring out your best purple and gold outfits and support the Tigers as they host Arkansas for both softball and baseball at Alex Box Stadium. The games continue throughout the weekend— and the rest of the month. Find the full schedules at lsusports.net.


ALL MONTH: Diva Royale - Drag Queen Show at Mag’s 940 Guest House, dragqueenshow.com and eventbrite.com

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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WINE DOWN AT THE ZOO BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo is hosting its first-ever wine event. At Wine Walk at the Zoo, you can have your fill of food samples and wine tastings all while visiting your favorite animals. It’s sure to be wild! brzoo.org


GO FLY A KITE Get your kite to the highest height at Kite Fest Louisiane. West Baton Rouge’s 17th annual kite festival is set to bring fun for the whole family, so pack up your brightly colored kites for a day of activities at the West Baton Rouge Soccer Complex. westbatonrouge.net

Editor’s note: Event details are as of press time in mid-April. Please check with the events for the latest information.


MAY 29: Sugar Shaker at Rock ‘n’ Bowl de Lafayette, rocknbowl.com

MAY 1 Buy local and homemade crafts from your favorite artists at the Arts Council’s Baton Rouge Arts Market. In conjunction with the Red Stick Farmers Market, it’s open 8 a.m. to noon—so you have plenty of time to find unique pieces for your home. artsbr.org MAY 1 + 2 Check out some of the work of local builders and developers at the Parade of Homes, where you can explore some of the most exclusive homes in town. Anyone is welcome, whether you’re a homebuyer or just looking for inspiration. paradegbr.fun MAY 1-3 Explore nature with the Baton Rouge City Nature Challenge, where you can take photos of your surroundings and upload them onto the iNaturalist app. Your finds will go up against competitors in the greater New Orleans area and other cities around the world. brnaturechallenge.org MAY 3 Bee excited, and join Capital Area Beekeeper of the Year Kevin Langley at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens. He’ll guide you through the beekeeping experience, which includes a honey tasting and a tour of the pollinator garden. Find the event on Facebook MAY 13 + 20 Sometimes our homestyle recipes may start to feel boring, so the Louisiana Culinary Institute wants you to try something new with its two-part Creative Supper Club leisure class. Join Chef Colt Patin as you learn how to cook a threecourse meal that includes dishes like chicken sausage, garlic breadsticks, rosemary meatloaf, Oreo red velvet cheesecake and more. lci.edu MAY 14 Let your kids spend time at the Highland Road Community Park for Story Time & Friends, an interactive hour of storytelling and themed activities. brec.org MAY 29 Wind down, get uncorked and get to work on Painting with a Twist’s “Mommy and Me Mermaid” set of canvases. You and a guest will each paint one half of a colorful, two-canvas painting. paintingwithatwist.com


MAY 30: The Boutique Bridal Show at Le Pavillon at Parc Lafayette, boutiquebridalshow.com

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225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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Your city, your app.

The new 225 Magazine App is now available All things Baton Rouge at your finger tips. The new 225 magazine app is here and ready to bring you all the latest news, guides and offers for Baton Rouge restaurants and bars, entertainment, people, culture and style, all delivered to your phone or tablet so you never miss a headline. Download for free at 225batonrouge.com/app or scan here


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Outside the lines ways to reach fans here, arranging LAST SPRING, I learned how to make pickups for wine and cheese pairings my own terrazzo designs. at Capital Region grocery stores. As the world was shutting down, This spring, I was super impressed United Kingdom artist Katie Gillies did by the production quality and lively what everyone else was scrambling to energy of “The Gala Goes Grease,” a do: She took her work virtual. virtual variety show and fundraiser Before the pandemic, Gillies hosted that raised more than $350,000 for in-person terrazzo workshops in her Cancer Services and Mary Bird Perkins Nottingham studio, teaching attendees – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. to make small goods like coasters and It takes a ridiculous trays. A quick pivot to amount of time and passhipping those workshop sion to produce events kits worldwide allowed like this, because orgathe artist to survive in the nizers are mostly learnmiddle of the crisis. ing as they go. I learned And for me? Getting firsthand by playing my hands on a kit prosmall roles in helping Of vided the calming escape Moving Colors plan its I needed. Despite being digital Byrde’s Dancers locked up in my apartScholarship Luncheon ment, I was able to watch last fall and helping 225 Gillies’ workshop video stage its own 2020 Best thousands of miles away By Jennifer Tormo of 225 virtual award from where she filmed it. show last summer. Using the kit’s tiny But while I’m eager for large gathbottles of pigment, I mixed colors. I erings to return, I hope organizations swirled them until they were just the and businesses realize what they’ve right shades of pastel peach and emertapped into by gathering virtually. ald green. I learned to make terrazzo’s Over the last year, I’ve attended signature colorful “chips,” how to cast national conferences and courses over those chips into jesmonite coasters, Zoom and Facebook Live. These events and how to seal them so I could use normally would have been inaccessible them to set drinks on my coffee table. from Baton Rouge, held in cities like It was the coolest thing. Suddenly, a Nashville, Chicago or New York. This global artist was teaching me from my time, anyone could tune in for free. kitchen table. Later in the pandemic, Through Zoom, I’ve continued I’d buy a digital coloring book from an volunteering every week as a writing artist collective, a weaving kit from a mentor for the Baton Rouge Youth maker in Florida, and a seat on a Zoom Coalition. This past year, BRYC has class about salvaging furniture. been able to recruit mentors from all Reading this month’s cover story over the country rather than just in about former athletes’ businesses has Baton Rouge—expanding the resources me reflecting on all the ways we better it offers high school students as they ourselves professionally—and thinking prepare for college and apply for about all the opportunities our virtual scholarships and financial aid. One of pandemic world has presented. the students I’ve been helping told me Digital experiences have allowed she is so grateful for all her mentors, Baton Rouge businesses to stay coneven though she thinks it’s funny she nected with locals—and attract eyes hasn’t met any of them in person yet. beyond our borders. At the same time, It’s mind-blowing when you virtual events have allowed our resiconsider the things we’ve all accomdents access to faraway experiences. plished through computer screens. Events like the Baton Rouge When I think back on early Blues Festival and Live After Five quarantine, I’ll always remember have streamed online concerts. The turning to art to make the world feel Louisiana Culinary Institute and a little less scary. But I’ll hope, too, Red Stick Spice Co. have held virthat those online classes, concerts, tual cooking classes. Capital Region conferences and fundraisers weren’t restaurants have hosted virtual wine just one-time experiences. I hope we pairing dinners, with food and drink continue to connect with each other pickups paired with online demonin new ways and across borders, long strations. New Orleans restaurants like after the pandemic is over. Commander’s Palace have even found

REACH JENNIFER TORMO AT JENNIFER@225BATONROUGE.COM. 225batonrouge.com | [225] May 2021

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In every issue of 225, you’ll find a free print on this page. FRAMED celebrates life and art in Baton Rouge, each one featuring a local photographer, place or graphic designer. Cut it out to hang in your cubicle, or frame it for your home gallery wall. Show us where you hang them by tagging them on social media with #225prints.


PAINTING BY SHELLI BROWN / shellibrownart.com GET FEATURED We love spotlighting local photographers, artists and designers on this page! Shoot us an email at editor@225batonrouge.com to chat about being featured.

[225 May 2021 | 225batonrouge.com

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So much to see. So much to do. Talk with the Louisiana leader in minimally invasive spine surgery about all the places a life without back pain can take you.


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Profile for Baton Rouge Business Report

[225] Magazine - May 2021  

[225] Magazine - May 2021  

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