Biz New Orleans March 2018

Page 1

A Century of Creole Arnaud’s Turns 100 pg. 68

Victoria Adams Phipps, executive producer of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

Tax Reform Tips:

Advice from industry heavyweights pg. 60

Om for the Young Ones

New Orleans’ first yoga studio for kids pg. 86

NOEW celebrates its 10th year by expanding its footprint.

Entrepreneur fest goes citywide march 2018

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Publisher Todd Matherne

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Web Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Jenny Peterson Multimedia Blogger Leslie T. Snadowsky

Contributors Julia Carcamo, Rebecca Friedman, Keith Loria, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Gina Rachel, Kim Roberts, Jessica Rosgaard, James Sebastien, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer

Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Sales Manager Maegan O’Brien (504) 830-7219 Senior Account Executive Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Senior Account Executive Carly Goldman (504) 830-7225 Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255

Marketing Director of Marketing & Events Cheryl Lemoine Event Coordinator Whitney Weathers Digital Media Associate Mallary Matherne For event information, call (504) 830-7264

Production Production Manager Jessica DeBold Traffic Manager Topher Balfer Production Designers Emily Andras, Demi Schaffer, Molly Tullier

Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Office Manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription Manager Brittanie Bryant For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231 AABP 2016 Award of Excellence Bronze: Best Feature Layout 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 Biz New Orleans is published monthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: one year $24.95, two year $39.95, three year $49.95 — foreign rates vary call for pricing. Postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biz New Orleans, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2018 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.

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top stories this month


ABOVE: Arnaud’s restaurant is celebrating 100 years in business with multiple events.



Taking Over The City

A Century of Creole

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Idea Village’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), we spoke with Executive Producer Victoria Adams Phipps about how this year’s event goes further than any that have come before.

From defying Prohibition to tackling social media, Arnaud’s has conquered every challenge to secure its place as a beloved New Orleans institution celebrating 100 years of fine dining.

By Keith Twitchell Photographs by Romero & Romero

By rebecca friedman photographs by sara essex bradley

m arch 2018 / Volume 4 / Issue 6

contents 14 / Editor’s note

36 / sports

The Mardi Gras of Entrepreneurism

Maintaining the Balance: With 26 free agents on the roster, the Saints hope to replicate last season’s offseason success.

16 / publisher’s note

Quarterly Family Time


20 / Calendar 22 / industry news 24 / recent openings 26 / Events

38 / entertainment

WiFT Louisiana: An organization just for local women in film and television is launching a new report line. 48 / banking & finance 40 / entrepreneurship

in the biz

The Samoan Example: How about a business network designed for former New Orleanians living far from home? 42 / etiquette

32 / dining

A Tale of Three Chocolatiers: The Easter Bunny has plenty of options for sweet treats this year, including new flavors from a local favorite. 34 / tourism

From Whence We Came: A new exhibit by the Historic New Orleans Collection offers a look at the city’s beginning.

You Schmooze You Lose?: How to network, grow and move up, without kissing up or alarming your boss

Banking after FNBC Fallout: Industry pros discuss how New Orleans fared. 52 / real estate & construction

Technology is Reinventing the Real Estate Industry: It’s all about the information in this evergrowing marketplace. 56 / healthcare

Time for Senior Care?: The tell-tale signs to look for when deciding to take that important step for a loved one

from the lens

44 / marketing

80 / great workspaces

Direct Mail Lives: Tips for creating effective mailers on a budget

A New View: Krewe du Optic gives its French Quarter flagship store a fresh look. 86 / why didn’t i think of that?

Om for the Little Ones: Yoga is a growing pastime in the U.S. — up over 50 percent in the last 5 years — and Lolo’s Studio, New Orleans’ first yoga studio for kids, is looking to help the next generation get in on the action. 90 / making a match: businesses and nonprofits

on the cover Victoria Adams Phipps, executive producer of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Photo by Romero & Romero.

60 / guest viewpoint

Have Tax Reform Act Questions?: A brief rundown of how it may affect your business

Sit, Stay, Create: The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts continues its namesake’s passion for arts education. 96 / on the job

Domino Sugar

Editor’s Note

The Mardi Gras of Entrepreneurism C a r n i va l m ay b e f i r mly i n o u r r e a r v i e w mi r r o r f o r a n ot h e r y e a r , b u t f o r

entrepreneurs, another kind of festival is on its way. Less beads, more business. Last year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) broke attendance records with over 14,000 attendees and awarded close to half-a-million dollars to entrepreneurs. More than 200 speakers and about that same number of startup ventures showcased their ideas and products. As we’re going to press, the lineup hasn’t yet been released for this year’s NOEW March 19-23, but I know for sure I’ll be again attending the world’s largest crowd-driven pitch competition, the Big Idea Challenge. At last year’s competition we were introduced to exciting new companies like Chosen Diagnostics, Damesly, Saint Hugh and, last year’s winner, Ready Responders. All have since been featured in Biz. Just before last year’s challenge, last March we profiled another Big Idea 2017 startup called VR Arcade NOLA. Only four months old at the time, the company was founded by David Denny and Devin Regan to bring VR arcade technology to New Orleans. In January the duo contacted me to let me know they were rebranding as Maverick VR. It turns out they’ve been so successful they have started offering their services for conferences and private events nationwide. So far this year they’ve already booked events in Las Vegas, New York City and Minneapolis as part of the recent Super Bowl LII festivities. Congratulations Maverick VR. We’re honored to help introduce creative new business ideas to this market and wonderful to see them succeed. Speaking of new ideas, this month our Why Didn’t I Think of That feature is another first for New Orleans, Lolo’s Studio, the first yoga studio specifically catering to kids. According to a 2016 study by Yoga Journal, there are currently 36.7 million people practicing yoga in the U.S. Of that number, 37 percent have children under the age of 18 that also practice — that’s more than 13.5 million kids, right now, practicing yoga. That points to a promising future for Lolo’s owner Laurie Azzano and her beautiful Magazine Street studio. I’ve actually caught my 7-year-old meditating a few times. Her friend, whose mom teaches at Hynes, taught her. Just like us adults, it never hurts to give yourself a little down time. Looking ahead, next month is our annual Giving Back issue, where we focus on this region’s nonprofits — a sector that has surged since Hurricane Katrina and still continues to thrive. Our April Q&A will focus on one organization’s work to strengthen our area schools. We haven’t addressed education too much in Biz thus far, but it’s a critical topic, both in terms of drawing transplant talent and in strengthening our own future workforce. I’m excited to see what work is being done. Happy reading and hope to see you at NOEW!

On the Web

Beyond the Magazine But wait, there’s more! Visit to watch videos from this month’s issue, including:

NOLA Helicopters Grand Opening What’s it like to view New Orleans from 1,000 feet up in the air? Members of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce were treated to a free ride at the opening of the city’s newest sightseeing experience, NOLA Helicopters, Feb. 2 at Lakefront Airport’s Weddell Hangar.

Kimberley Singletary Managing Editor

14 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

Publisher’s Note

Quarterly Family Time As you may know, Andrea and I

have three daughters very close in age and they are our lives. We would do anything for them. So last year when one of our daughters moved out of town, I made a personal goal to make sure our family gets together at least each quarter during the year to laugh and spend some good face to face time together. Last month, during Mardi Gras, we all visited Malayne in Virginia Beach and endured five days of cold and rainy weather. But the weather was not why we were there. In the age of FaceTime, social media and text messaging you can stay in touch instantly and be kept up to date, but nothing replaces a personal visit — the time when you can all enjoy a meal together and laugh in the same room over the same crazy stuff, which is usually something I said or did. These kinds of memories are so much more impactful than what you get on an iPhone and something Andrea and I continue to focus on with our girls. Family is No. 1 to us, so now we begin planning for our second quarter get-together. May we have more laughs because of me. Todd Matherne

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Meet the Sales Team

Maegan O’Brien Sales Manager (504) 830-7219

Caitlin Sistrunk Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7252

Carly Goldman

Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7225

Jessica Jaycox Account Executive

(504) 830-7255

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215 18 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018


March 6

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Power Lunch Sponsored by Fidelity Bank 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1515 Poydras St., 5th Floor Auditorium


St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce State of the Parish Breakfast 7:30 to 9 a.m. Benedict’s Plantation 1144 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville


ABWA New Orleans Financial Series Workshop Fraud Awareness Briefing: How to Stay Ahead of the Bad Guys 8:30 to 10 a.m. Heritage Grill 111 Veterans Blvd., Metairie


Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Gala Royale 7:30 to 11 p.m. Ochsner Sports Performance Center Home of the Saints Training Field 5800 Airline Dr., Metairie


New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Presents 1st Quarter Luncheon with Brandy Christian 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans 130 Roosevelt Way, Roosevelt Ballroom Mezzanine Level


ABWA New Orleans March Luncheon Featuring Tina Meilleur: 5 Ways to Stop Giving Away Your Power 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Cannery New Orleans 3803 Toulouse St.


Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport 2829 Williams Blvd., Kenner


New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Various Locations

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National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) New Orleans Public Policy Luncheon Topic: Navigating Tax Reform as a Small Business Owner Time T.B.A. Ralph’s on the Park 900 City Park Ave.


Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana Baton Rouge Business Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Gov. John Bel Edwards 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center 201 Lafayette St.


Water Challenge 2018 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Propeller Incubator 4035 Washington Ave., New Orleans


AMA New Orleans Measuring Neural Signals of Attention and Emotion to Gauge Viewer Engagement in Advertisements 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1811 Metairie Ave., Metairie


Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Prosper Jefferson: Life Cycle of Business — Part 2 How to Grow Your Business 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 700 Churchill Pkwy., Avondale


Tulane Family Business Forum “Building a Strategy for the ‘What Ifs’ in Family Business” 8 to 11:30 a.m. Qatar Ballroom of the Lavin Bernick Center 39 McAlister Dr. To register, or call (504) 862-8482

For a more complete list of events visit We’d love to include your business-related event in next month’s calendar. Please email details to


Close your next deal at one of these business-friendly bistros.

Compére Lapin


535 Tchoupitoulas • (504) 599-2119

337 Chartres St. • (504) 598-5005

Meals aren’t about trends, shock value, or opulence. Meals are about moments, memories and those who surround you at your table. We believe in the complexity of simplicity, and the power of pure flavors. We don’t make food for everyone else, we make food for you.

Kingfish is a popular casual restaurant and cocktail bar in New Orleans that salutes the Huey P. Long Era. The Kingfish menu embodies new Louisiana cuisine. That along with our talented bartenders’ skill & expertise combine to create a unique Louisiana-centric dining experience. So whether you are a visitor to our wonderful city or one of our regulars, Kingfish is a perfect place to brunch, lunch, dinner, or happy hour in the French Quarter.


Riccobono’s Peppermill Restaurant

752 Tchoupitoulas St. • (504) 581-7101

3524 Severn Ave., Metairie • (504) 455-2266

New Orleans Social House is located in the historic Warehouse District of New Orleans. Combining the fun of a music venue, the cuisine of a worldly new restaurant, and the beverages of a high end craft cocktail & wine bar, NOSH encapsulates the true essence of a “good time.” From a friendly outing, to a work meet & greet, to a date night, NOSH transforms a social house into a home for all. Social Hour 4pm-7pm daily.

For over 42 years the Riccobono family has been serving classic New Orleans and Italian fare to locals and visitors alike. Timeless classics like Shrimp Creole, Trout Amandine, Veal Parmigiana, Oyster Riccobono and much more. Consistently rated as one of the top dining destinations of Metairie. Private dinning facilities available for meetings and events. Join us for a meal to remember. Open Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. / 21

Industry News


New Orleans No. 2 for Women in Computer and Math Careers According to a recent report from The Brookings Institution, Greater New Orleans ranks second among large cities (population of 500,000+) for women employed in computer and math careers. With women accounting for 31.9 percent of these jobs, the region ranks only behind Sacramento, California. 1. Sacramento - Roseville-ArdenArcade, CA = 33.4% 2. New OrleansMetairie, LA = 31.9% 3. Baltimore-ColumbiaTowson, MD = 30.9%

News From MSY

2017 Another Record-Setting Year for Passengers The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) set an all-time record in 2017 with 12,009,512 passengers served. Previous records were 10.6 million passengers in 2015 and 11.1 million in 2016. The airport has seen an overall increase in passengers of 35 percent since 2010. Numbers are expected to keep climbing as the North Terminal is completed in February 2019.

5. Memphis, TNMS-AR = 30.7% 6. Richmond, VA = 30.3%

New Flights for 2018 February

4. WashingtonArlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV = 30.7%

Delta Air Lines launched twice weekly service to Seattle and Boston

March Spirit Airline to begin seasonal, nonstop service to Columbus, Ohio April Spirit Airlines to launch nonstop service four times a week to Atlantic City International Airport beginning April 13. This will mark 19 nonstop daily Spirit flights from New Orleans to 17 destinations.

Southwest Airlines to launch nonstop weekly flights to Sacramento and San Jose, along with a weekly flight to Cancun


Vacation Express to expand their service to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

7. BirminghamHoover, AL = 28.3% 8. MilwaukeeWaukesha-West Allis, WI = 28.0% 9. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA = 27.8% 10. Detroit-WarrenDearborn, MI = 27.6%

Paul A. Salles, president and CEO of the Louisiana Hospital Association, in a statement released Jan. 22 following the release of proposed healthcare budget cuts in the Executive Budget for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019, presented that day to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.



Bilten Park Named Louisiana’s No. 1 Megasite for Manufacturing

Airbnb Prices Soared up to 2,000 Percent During Carnival

Recently opened for sale/lease and development by Stirling Properties, a 6,031-acre site called Bilten Park — located at the intersection of Interstate 12 and Highway 434 in St. Tammany Parish — has been named Louisiana’s No. 1 megasite for future advanced manufacturing and logistics. “The Bilten Park site is strategically located to provide ready access to logistical infrastructure assets,” said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson. Assets include 3.5 linear miles of frontage along Interstate 12, and proximity to numerous major markets.

22 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

“If these cuts materialize, they could lead to a drastic reduction of some hospital services and medical education in communities across Louisiana.”

Increases reaching up to over 2,000 percent were reported on Airbnb rentals in New Orleans over Carnival this year by Airbnb WATCH, an affordable housing advocate and consumer watchdog group. In a report released Feb. 7, the organization compared prices on rentals advertised between Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 with rentals being offered February 13 and 14. A dozen sample rentals noted increases ranging between 111 percent to 2,074 percent. / 23

Recent Openings

Ochsner Urgent Care The newest location of Ochsner Urgent Care opened at the corner of Carrollton and Canal streets in February. The 9,000-square-foot facility is co-occupied with a women’s services center, with dermatology services opening this month. In addition to non-emergency illnesses and injuries, the urgent care will provide occupational health services related to work-related injuries, illnesses and diseases.

NOLA Helicopters Tulane School of Business Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex The A.B. Freeman School of Business has opened a 46,000-square-foot, $35 million addition that converts its two-building footprint into one structure called the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex. According to the Freeman School’s Dean, Ira Solomon, enrollment in the school jumped nearly 50 percent from 2012 to 2016, making Freeman one of the fastest-growing business schools in the country.

New Orleans’ newest sightseeing experience, NOLA Helicopters, held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb 2 at the Lakefront Airport’s Weddell Hangar. The company is now offering 15-minute, 30-minute and 60-minute tours starting at $199 per person. Special packages and custom tours are available. To see a video of the opening, visit

H a r r y B a k e r S m i t h A rch i t ec ts II

Walmart Pickup DriveThru Location

Parkway Apartments Construction has begunon a $40 million luxury apartment community at 4650 Washington Ave. in New Orleans. It is the first large scale, ground-up new construction project in the MidCity area — across from Xavier University — in the city’s recent history. The community will feature 207 one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with 13,776 square feet of retail and 313 secure parking spaces. Developers are Denzel Clark of Citadel Builders, C. Mohan Kailas of Kailas Companies and Todd Trosclair of All Star Electric, Inc. and chairman of the board of Galatoire’s Restaurants. Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019.

24 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

Two New PJ’s Coffee Locations Tulane University’s Uptown campus in the A.B. Freeman School of Business at the Goldring/ Woldenberg Business Complex (7 McAlister Dr.) and Ochsner Health Center in Covington (1000 Ochsner Blvd.) are both home to PJ’s coffee locations as of February. The additions mark the fourth location of the brand on Tulane University’s Campus and the fifth in Ochsner’s health centers.

Louisiana’s first Walmart Drive-Thru grocery pickup station opened in January at 615 Veterans Blvd. It is the company’s third station to open in the U.S. Customers can now order groceries from Walmart online and pick them up at a time of their choosing (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.) at the Metairie station. The groceries are then loaded into the customer’s car by an attendant. All prices are the same as at a Walmart store. / 25

Events 1






UNO 25 Honoree Luncheon Tuesday, January 23 | The Roosevelt-Waldorf Astoria Ballroom

LifeCity’s 6th Annual Love Your City Awards Gala (formerly known as the Green Games Awards) Thursday, January 25 | Sheraton New Orleans

The inaugural class of UNO 25, an initiative that identifies, recognizes and celebrates 25 high-impact businesses owned or led by UNO alumni, were celebrated at a special luncheon at the Roosevelt-Waldorf Astoria. Among the honorees were Todd Matherne and Errol Laborde, publisher and editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing, publishers of Biz New Orleans magazine.

Celebrated as the “impact economy event of the year,” this event celebrates the social and environmental impact that LifeCity certified businesses have achieved over the past year.

1. Elder Gwin, Micheal Kelly and Leonard Washington 2. Stacy Nicklow, Joanne Chauvin and Bill Chauvin 3. Todd and Andrea Matherne, Peggy Scott Laborde and Errol Larborde

1. Jonathan House, Trent Husser, Cait Behrens and Allyson Champagne 2. Jordan Gurren, Maggie Moore, Michael Dalle and Molle Grace Lambert 3. Patti Dunn, Abby Wetsman and Emily Meyer

26 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

photographs by cheryl gerber and Gil Rubman




LOUISIANACOOKBOOK.COM Now in its second printing! / 27

Events 1






New Orleans Chamber Educational Seminar with AMA

Jefferson Chamber Annual Meeting

Monday, January 29

Friday, February 2 | Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport

John Deveney of Deveney Communications spoke about tactics to persuade corporate decision makers at this educational event sponsored by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and the American Marketing Association.

One of the chamber’s largest networking and social events of the year, this year’s Jefferson Chamber Annual Meeting featured keynote speaker Linda Rutherford, senior vice president and chief communications officer of Southwest Airlines.

1. John Deveney, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, IABC Fellow, presents “Persuading Corporate Decision Makers” at the New Orleans Chamber’s Educational Seminar with American Marketing Association. 2. John Deveney with Robert Tabary, a New Orleans Chamber ambassador, after the presentation. 3. Attendees take notes during John Deveney’s presentation.

1. Javier Sanchez, Leigh Ann O’Keefe and Renaza Heidelberg 2. Jessica Melder, David Payton, Barry Hays, Arlanda Williams and Kelvin Gipson 3. Tommy Fonseca, Darlene Cusanza and Ray Seamon

28 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

select photographs by cheryl gerber / 29

Biz columnist s spe ak out


A P P hoto/ To d d Rose n be rg

This month the Saints will be busy negotiating with its 20 unrestricted free agents, including quarterback Drew Brees.

In The Biz dining

A Tale of Three Chocolatiers The Easter Bunny has plenty of options for sweet local treats this year, including new flavors from a local favorite. by Poppy Tooker

For New Orleans’ candy makers,

the smell of money can come with a rich, deep, chocolate aroma. That is certainly true when it comes to three local chocolatiers, each with their own distinctive approach to the business. Elmer’s Chocolate

Founded in 1855, Elmer’s is the elder statesman of the three. In the 1960s, Roy Nelson purchased the company from its original owners, persuading his physicist son, Allan, to join him in the business. At that time, Elmer’s product line was quite diverse. Along with chocolate candy, the company manufactured Fruit Bublets and crunchy, cheesy snacks known as “Chee-Wees”. In the 1970s, the Nelsons moved Elmer from its original location on Magazine Street in downtown New Orleans to a manufacturing plant in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. At that time, the Elmer’s product line was narrowed to strictly chocolate, specifically boxed bonbons and Easter eggs. Today, Elmer’s dominates the Easter candy scene in the Gulf South, where loyal customers purchase between 14 and 15 million Gold Brick, Heavenly Hash and Pecan eggs annually. Devotees of the eggs stockpile them at Easter, most stashing them in the freezer to enjoy all year. During the rest of the year, Elmer’s operates one of the most efficient boxed chocolate operations in the world. Weekly, over 38,000 pounds of chocolate is turned into bonbons through a completely automated manufacturing process, never touched by human hands. Sucré

32 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

Acalli Chocolate

Susan Morse of Acalli Chocolate takes the “know your farmer” philosophy to a whole new level. Her business, Acalli, was the first chocolate maker in Louisiana to go direct “from bean to bar.” Morse works with a Peruvian cacao grower’s cooperative to source the whole beans used in her distinctive chocolate bars, bringing in over 2,000 pounds a year. As sacks of beans arrive at Acalli’s chocolate workshop in Gretna, they are carefully cleaned and sorted before being roasted in a converted rotisserie oven. Next, the beans are cracked to separate the hull from the nibs before the nibs are turned into cocoa liquor using a stone wheel grinder. Sweetened with sugar, that liquor is used in varying percentages to create Acalli’s chocolate bars. Morse is just as particular about the origin of Acalli’s sugar as she is her cocoa. Three Brothers Farm in Youngsville, Louisiana, provides Acalli with the raw sugar that adds a deep, rich molasses element to the finished product. Continuing the effort to “keep it local,” Second Line Brewing uses Acalli’s cocoa nibs to enhance the chocolate finish of dark brews and NOLA Distilling is experimenting with her nibs as well. When she’s not turning beans into bars, Morse loves to host educational pop-ups that include an Acalli tasting. She says her favorite tasters are toddlers, whose parents watch wide-eyed as they sample the Barataria Blend Extra Dark. At 81 percent cocoa and 19 percent sugar, this chocolate packs quite a punch, but so far Morse says the chocolate has been met with nothing but smiles. n Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, Louisiana Eats! Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.

Conversely, at Sucré, only the chocolatetempering machines are automated – virtually everything else is done by hand under the watchful eye of chef/owner Tariq Hanna. Hanna is so passionate about chocolate that he sports a tattoo of the molecular structure of theo bromine, the primary alkaloid of cocoa, on his forearm. At Sucré, Hanna exclusively uses chocolate from Swiss chocolatier Felchlin. Sucre is the third-largest user of Felchlin chocolate in the United States, importing over 35,000 pounds annually. In 2018, the Felchlin chocolate used at Sucré will be crafted exclusively for the company using formulated flavor profiles developed during Hanna’s factory visits to Switzerland.

Eagerly describing the “taste of Sucré,” Hanna envisions the new white chocolate as “dairy forward with a hint of salt.” His milk chocolate is designed to be “cocoa upfront with a finish of creamy sweetness and a mild salt finish.” Hanna describes the complex profile of Sucré’s signature dark chocolate as having “floral forward notes that transition into fruit, with a low acidic finish.” From French macaroons to drinking chocolate, there are many ways to compare Sucré’s nuances of flavor, but Hanna believes the purest way to explore the difference, is by tasting the bars. / 33

In The Biz to u r i s m

From Whence We Came A new exhibit by The Historic New Orleans Collection offers a look at the city’s beginning. by Jennifer Gibson Schecter

34 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

exhibition,” said Greenwald. “Created by the French surveyor Jean Pierre Lassus, this earliest-known pictorial view of New Orleans provides an intimate view of the settlement in its infancy. New Orleans has a well-deserved identity as a place where cultures have mixed for 300 years – where people with and without choice lived and borrowed bits and pieces from each other to create something new. Our music, religion, architecture and food can all be linked to this melding of traditions. Greenwald sees this history as a key aspect of our present. One particular group often left out of the founding story of New Orleans includes this area’s earliest inhabitants, which this exhibit aims to challenge. Greenwald said there is a misconception that European New Orleans was the first settlement at this geographical location. In fact, the archeological records show the site was occupied by Native Americans for at least a century before the European arrival. “As a curator, my goal is to help visitors better understand the settlement’s development from a swampy backwater home to a handful of rough-hewn structures, and a number of equally rough inhabitants to a cultural and economic crossroads designed by royal engineers and shaped by a kaleidoscopic array of influences,” explained Greenwald. Beyond the physical artifacts, the exhibit also features digital interactive aspects including an archeological map, a game quizzing visitors on what supplies were needed for a new home settlement, a 1731 inventory of enslaved Africans and African-descended people living on a West Bank plantation and audio recordings of the letters and writings of early New Orleans residents. THNOC has also created a companion catalogue that is available for purchase, as well as other related books that will be stocked at The Shop at The Collection. “New Orleans, the Founding Era” will be on view at THNOC’s 533 Royal St. location through May 27, 2018. The gallery hours will be Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. More about the exhibit and coordinating special events can be found at n

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on

Before the ironwork balconies

and towering cathedral, before the vibrant music of Congo Square and calas ladies selling at market, New Orleans was a tiny settlement along a mighty river. Three hundred years later, The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) offers a new exhibit to explore the earliest days of the Crescent City. “New Orleans, the Founding Era” is an original exhibition open through May 27, 2018 in commemoration of the city’s tricentennial. It features rare artifacts from THNOC’s holdings, as well as objects on loan from institutions across Europe and North America. Taking almost three years to create, it truly is a can’t-miss exhibit for everyone in New Orleans, whether local or visitor. Something the exhibit does extremely well is give credence and insight into the various groups of people who played a role in the creation of New Orleans in those early decades. “There were so many groups whose existence in and around early New Orleans shaped its growth and development,” explained Erin M. Greenwald, historian and curator of “New Orleans, the Founding Era,” and now curator of programs at the New Orleans Museum of Art. “My research led me to include in the galleries stories of Ursuline nuns, Capuchin priests and pious laywomen; Natchez warriors, a Chitimacha chief and Tunica allies; French engineers, administrators, merchants and would-be planters; children and families—free and unfree; and enslaved African craftsmen, nurses, healers and sailors.” Greenwald and the THNOC team accomplished this by relying not only on written records, such as documents, maps, memoirs and letters, but also on material culture including objects found above ground and those that came from archaeological digs in the French Quarter. Asked which is her favorite piece in the collection, Greenwald described a 1726 panoramic view of New Orleans and the Company of the Indies Plantation (located on land now called Algiers Point) on loan from the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, France. “It is one of the most visually stunning and historically important objects in this / 35

In The Biz sports

Maintaining the Balance With 26 free agents on the roster the Saints hope to replicate last season’s offseason success. by chris price

36 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

straight 7-9 seasons. While the team had an amazing draft in 2017, fans know terrible transactions in the free agent market in previous years led to those consecutive losing seasons. Obviously, the biggest piece of the puzzle is Brees, who at age 39 is still an elite player and easily among the top five quarterbacks in the league. There will be whispers of Brees going for a huge payday with another contender. If the team had struggled in 2017, there may be credence for them, but after the success the team had in 2017, it doesn’t appear either party is ready to move on without the other. While Brees is the star of the show, he was able to share the stage with an amazing rushing attack from Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram and a defense that moved from the bottom of the league to middle of the pack. The onus will be on management to keep moving forward in a positive direction through solid signings and impactful draft selections. n


Saints Free Agents for the 2018 League Year ERFA = Exclusive Rights Free Agent RFA = Restricted Free Agent UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent Player Pos. Jack Allen OL Delvin Breaux CB Drew Brees QB Rafael Bush S Audie Cole LB Brandon Coleman WR Chase Daniel QB Kasim Edebal LB Jonathan Freeny LB Clay Harbor TE Gerald Hodges LB John Hughes DL George Johnson DE Senio Kelemete C/G John Kuhn FB Josh LeRibeus G Zach Line FB Michael Mauti LB Tony McDaniel DT Sterling Moore CB Alex Okafor DE David Parry NT John Phillips TE Willie Snead WR Kenny Vaccaro S Zach Wood LS

Age Exp. Type 25 1 ERFA 28 3 RFA 39 17 UFA 30 7 UFA 28 6 UFA 25 3 RFA 31 9 UFA 28 3 UFA 28 6 UFA 30 8 UFA 27 5 UFA 29 6 UFA 30 6 UFA 27 5 UFA 35 12 UFA 28 5 UFA 27 5 UFA 28 4 UFA 33 12 UFA 27 7 UFA 26 5 UFA 25 3 RFA 30 8 UFA 25 2 RFA 26 5 UFA 25 1 ERFA

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at

With the Super Bowl over and

kickoff of the 2018 season six months away, it seems like March would be an odd time to talk about the Saints, but c’est la vie, this is New Orleans, where there is no ceasing to love the Black and Gold. The Saints have 26 free agents on the team — nearly half the active roster — including quarterback Drew Brees, who, due to contract stipulations, cannot be tagged as the team’s franchise player. While the team has had some success in free agency, the term also gives fans the heebie-jeebies. The 2018 league year begins March 14. With it comes a litany of dates important for teams in balancing their roster and salary cap figures before next month’s draft. Teams have to designate their franchise or transition players on March 6. Between the 12th and 14th, teams may negotiate contracts with players who will enter the league year as unrestricted free agents. On the 14th, they must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2017 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit and complete 2018 option clauses on all players. At 3 p.m. CST, the 2018 league year begins, which means teams must be under the 2018 salary cap, a trade window opens and free agents may begin signing deals. Under the current collectively bargained player deal, there are three levels of free agency. Exclusive rights free agents have fewer than three years of playing experience. In this case the team can offer a contract, but the player may not negotiate with other teams. Restricted free agents have three years of experience and may negotiate with other teams, however their team could match the offer and keep the player. Unrestricted free agents have four years of experience or have been cut by their team. They are free to sign with any team without restriction from their last team. The Saints have 20 unrestricted free agents, four restricted free agents and two exclusive rights free agents. The team did well last year in free agency by adding veteran players who helped to build depth across the roster. Their 12-6, NFC South Division winning season wiped away the morass of three / 37

In The Biz e n t e r ta i n m e n t

WiFT Louisiana An organization just for local women in film and television is launching a new report line. by Kim Singletary

38 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

to looking at how to best support its membership. “Before, we offered a lot more seminars,” she says. “But now we’re all, thankfully, busy working so people are more just looking to get together for drinks or something.” But just because the jobs are coming back doesn’t mean women in entertainment aren’t battling problems. “We want to make sure we are supporting women in whatever way they need,” she says, “but to do that we have to know what those needs are.” In order to hopefully answer this question, WiFT Louisiana will be launching a report line in a few months — a phone number where any woman in the entertainment industry in Louisiana can call and report about any issue they may be battling in a way that’s completely anonymous. “Are they facing safety issues on a set? Being pushed to work longer, harder hours than is allowed? Is there sexual harassment going on with a certain production? We want to know,” she says. “It’s by no means meant to be a crisis line — more a tool for data gathering so that we know what kind of issues women are battling here at home so we can work to address them.” One issue Bidault de L’Isle says is a known problem in the industry is childcare. “We have a lot of working single mothers, and in film and television you work a lot of long, strange hours,” she says, explaining that this scheduling leaves a real need for childcare that isn’t just for a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day. While the organization finishes up work on the report line, Bidault de L’Isle says their work continues to develop a local, indigenous community of filmmakers while hosting education and networking events. “We’ve done a lot to support writers recently,” she says. “There’s a big need for that right now.” For those interested in the organization, March is the perfect time to take a look. WiFT will be partnering with a variety of organizations, including the Loyola Feminist Film Festival, to present multiple film screenings in celebration of International Women’s Month starting on March 8. For more information, visit n

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.

With March being women’s history

month — International Women’s Day is March 8 — I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight a great organization geared specifically to women in the entertainment industry in New Orleans. The Louisiana chapter of WiFT (Women in Film and Television) was founded in 2011; it is one of 46 chapters worldwide dedicated to advancing women in every field of these industries. Current president Carol Bidault de L’Isle says she started in the organization when she was 18 years old. “Throughout my career, I was involved in many different chapters and helped found the chapter in France,” she says. An award-winning producer, Bidault de L’Isle has now been in the industry for more than three decades. After growing up around the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, she lived in Paris for 15 years and D.C. for 15 before coming to New Orleans, where she was involved in setting up the WiFT chapter in Louisiana. Current honorary and advisory board members include Academy Award-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson and Susan Brennan, founder of Second Line Stages. Bidault de L’Isle says that interest in WiFT Louisiana exploded during the industry’s recent downturn. “It was like you were on life support,” she says. “There were of course those that picked up and moved to where the jobs were, like Atlanta, but then there were those of us that had parents, children, family down here that couldn’t just move. At that point you had to look at things and say, ‘Can I afford to live here for a few years without working?’ There were tough decisions to make but some of us were determined to stick it out.” Bidault de L’Isle says the women who did stay in Louisiana were eager to do whatever they could to make themselves more marketable, which meant networking and educating themselves. “Membership in WiFT tripled in those lean years,” she says. “Women needed to get information and training. We had a lot of focus on the tax credits, on understanding what was going on at the local and state government levels.” As the industry has now begun to return, Bidault de L’Isle says WiFT has moved / 39

In The Biz e n t r e pr e n eu r s h i p

The Samoan Example How about a business network designed for former New Orleanians living far from home? by keith twitchell

40 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

Nearly five years later, the network is now also established in Samoa itself, with plans to expand to Australia in 2018. First and foremost, it exists to connect Samoan-owned businesses to a network of mutual support. It provides strategic advice, guidance and support in the form of formal workshops and trainings, along with informal networking evenings. Members serve as mentors to other members and collectively exchange ideas, information, experience and expertise. They also seek opportunities for collaboration on everything from business opportunities to working for the betterment of their communities. According to Keil-Hall, communications technologies are key to the network’s success. “With the advancement of technology, easy access to the internet and online platforms, it has allowed the network to connect with many Samoan businesses and entrepreneurs around the globe. We are very active on social media and we use this to promote the network and the work it does.” The Samoa Business Network has grown to where it is now connected to more than 500 individuals, members and partners. Keil-Hall, who now works for New Zealand’s Ministry for Pacific Peoples, is one of a team of four volunteers who keep the network going. Even as she works to spur growth for the Samoa Business Network, she already has an eye to replicating the concept for other Pacific peoples. Just as Samoans, Fijians and others maintain cultural ties and identities within larger populations, New Orleanians always seem to keep a little bit of home with them wherever they are, from hosting crawfish boils for bemused neighbors to hanging Mardi Gras beads on their rear-view mirrors. A New Orleans Business Network could potentially leverage this connectedness to help far-flung New Orleans entrepreneurs be even more successful. How would this kind of a network of ex-pat New Orleans business owners get started? Hmmm … sounds like a possible entrepreneurial opportunity! n

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.

New Orleans entrepreneurism

certainly does not end at the city limits, or even the southeast Louisiana region. All over the country, in places like Atlanta, Houston, New York and many more, ex-pat New Orleanians have set up shop and are doing well. Most of them have successfully integrated into their local economies, from customers to supply chains. But virtually all of them would welcome more contact with home, or at least with fellow former New Orleanians. Surely many would jump at the chance to network and even conduct business with each other. What if there was a nationwide network of businesses owned by former New Orleans residents, supporting everything from social ties to business opportunities? Reaching about as far across the planet as possible, a fascinating and successful model for this exists in New Zealand’s Samoa Business Network. According to co-founder Laura Keil-Hall, “Samoa Business Network’s vision is to enable a successful worldwide network of Samoan businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals, with a mission to provide a platform for them to network, collaborate and also make a positive difference in the community.” Back in 2012, Keil-Hall was working as a business manager for the Bank of New Zealand. Part of her role was organizing monthly business networking events for the bank’s clients and business people in the local area. In that capacity she came to realize that there were no events targeted specifically to the country’s Samoan business community. “The concept was already there, I already run networking events; I had the resources and facility through the BNZ and all I had to do was to cater it to the Samoa business community,” she recalled. “So in September 2012, I decided to launch the very first networking event that catered only to Samoans.” By April 2013, Keil-Hall had produced several very successful events of this nature and recognized both the need and the interest for something more permanent, with a greater number of services. At that point, the Samoa Business Network was launched. / 41

In The Biz e t i qu e tt e

You Schmooze You Lose? How to network, grow and move up, without kissing up or alarming your boss by Melanie Warner Spencer

42 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

External networking is the type that has more potential for strife. If done incorrectly, it can, in fact, seem to your supervisor that you are trying to find another job. The best approach is to begin with the person who is most likely to misinterpret your intentions. Ask your boss for advice about how to meet your professional peers and which professional groups he or she recommends joining. Let them know that you are interested in growing with the company and ask for guidance on professional development, gaining upward movement, opportunities for advancement and their suggested next steps. If you keep your boss in the loop and engage him or her as your ally, it won’t come as a surprise when their counterpart from a competing firm mentions meeting you at a recent business happy hour or when you ask for a LinkedIn review. This is, of course, the best-case scenario: a kind boss and mentor keen to help you advance. But, what if your boss sees you as a threat or you just can’t seem to get through to him or her due to simple incompatibility? In that case, it’s even more important to make sure your boss understands your motives, so either bring up your desires for professional development or upward movement during your next review or put them in an email. Most employers understand that we all want to cultivate relationships with others in our field for support, connections or even to occasionally commiserate over coffee or a cocktail. As with most things, being honest, communicative and well intentioned will almost always keep things running smoothly. n

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and managing editor of Louisiana Life and Acadiana Profile. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to

Recently, a young colleague asked

how to stay on top of networking and selfpromotion without seeming like you’re trying to jump ship. He asked, for example, what if you want a current manager to write a LinkedIn review for you, or you simply want to continue meeting professionals in your field , but outside your company? What’s the best way to go about maintaining upward growth without giving your employer the impression that you’re looking for a new opportunity? These are all great questions for both the young professional looking to move up and the seasoned veteran striving to stay connected in their company or industry. It’s important to first distinguish between the two types of networking: internal and external. Internal networking refers to the contacts you make within your company or organization both interdepartmentally and across departments. External networking refers to sales, employment seeking or connecting with other people in your industry. Each one is important, serves a different function and can be perceived in a variety of both positive and negative ways. To keep internal networking in a positive light and not viewed as playing politic or worse, brownnosing, consider your intentions. If your goal is to get to know your colleagues in other departments in order to be helpful and benefit your department, as well as others and the company as a whole, then you are on the right track. Networking internally includes everything from chatting people up in the break room and sending congratulatory emails when someone knocks a project out of the park or gets an award or promotion, to seeking out the leaders in your company for a powwow over coffee or even to initiate a mentor/mentee relationship. The most successful internal networking will lead to better communication, understanding the daily function of the other people in your company and being considered for projects and promotions. But again the goal should be to benefit the company, with upward movement being icing on the cake. / 43

In The Biz marketing

Direct Mail Lives Tips for creating effective mailers on a budget. by Julia carcamo

I’ve been in the marketing business

for quite some time, which means I’ve worked with a lot of clients, including database marketers that still use snail mail. I can hear you asking yourself why anyone would still use mail, but did you know that for many industries, the battle for the customer is often won or lost at the mailbox? Did you know that although millennials seemingly spend a great majority of their time glued to their digital devices, 84 percent of them look through their mail on a regular basis and 64 percent say they would rather search for useful information in the mail than email? Even though direct mail has a slightly higher acquisition cost, it’s clearly still an important part of anyone’s marketing toolkit. The question is, how can companies be most effective in this arena? I turned to Lisa Vincent of M Partners for some suggestions on managing a print budget to create mail that tells your brand story without cutting corners. “Believe it or not, it’s really very easy to manage a print budget and still create great pieces,” says Vincent. “I’m often tasked with identifying ways to maximize client budgets while still producing a printed piece that stands out.” Vincent says she looks at the following five things when challenged with a budget.


Color: The easiest way to keep costs down when producing a print project is to only use black ink. However, the advent of digital printing has made full color just as budget-friendly. “Because digital printing doesn’t require the creation of a plate, it greatly reduces the time needed to print — time saved on the project and time saved for you,” says Brian Hughes, vice president of business development for New Orleans-based printing and digital marketing company, Pel Hughes. “And because of the lower cost, digital printing is great for small jobs.”

44 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018


Size: The size of the piece will also be something you’ll want to address when evaluating cost versus impact. If you’re mailing, you’ll want to get up to speed with the U.S. Post Office’s guidelines


Paper Stock: Consider using the printer’s “house stock.” Since printers often buy this paper in bulk, they can pass on the discount to customers. This can not only save you money, it can save time since you won’t have to wait for it to arrive. It’s also important to make sure your mailer is an appropriate weight. For the post office, the weight is just as important as size. No one likes a surprise surcharge; it’s right up there with resort fees and checked baggage charges.


Folding: If your piece will be folded and you’re on a budget, you’ll want to design it so that it can be machine folded. has great examples of standard folds. It’s a great resource for you. I’d bookmark that one as well.


Bindery and Finishing: If you need to print something with multiple pages, you’ll want to consider saddle stitching – a process that staples multiple pages commonly seen in brochures, training manuals, etc. As you can see, there are a few potential budget-busters that are quite easy to manage. For those “we’ve got to figure out how to make it work” marketers, rest assured that you can still create dazzling mailers that will tell your brand story in a cost-effective way. n

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H ealey

Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at and

to avoid budget-buster oversized mailers. If you’re a direct mail marketer, you’ll want to bookmark the guidelines web page and refer to it often. “Your agency or printer production manager can always guide you,” Vincent says, “but if you’re trying to handle your production in-house and are in doubt as to whether or not your piece is compliant with USPS standards, take a quick trip to your local post office and ask.” Remember, ALWAYS understand the printer’s limitations BEFORE you start designing. / 45

hot topics in southe a st Louisiana industries


A P P hoto/A n d r ew H a r n i k

banking & finance  /  real estate & construction  /  healthcare  /  GUEST VIEWPOINT

How will the new Tax Reform Act affect your business? An expert in the field weighs in.

Perspectives b a n k i n g & fi n a n c e

Banking after FNBC Fallout Industry pros discuss how New Orleans fared. by Kim Roberts

As we move into 2018, it’s evident

that it’s been an eventful year for the U.S. economy and for national and local banking. Despite beginning the year with uncertainty, the domestic economy has shown signs of strong momentum for continued growth. According to Forbes Magazine, U.S. consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, and a wave of optimism is washing over the banking industry, driven by a growing belief that deregulation and tax reform

48 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

will come to fruition in Washington D.C. in the year ahead. Locally, unfortunately, New Orleans grabbed headlines this year for being home to the nation’s largest bank failure since the end of the financial crisis in 2010. After the collapse of First NBC Bank (FNBC) due to their dealing in some risky loans, the bank was seized and its assets sold by federal regulators over poor lending standards. As a result of the fallout, many

projects around the city stalled for lack of financing. “The failure of FNBC resulted in some deposit and loan displacement, which means there has been opportunity to service and grow relationships with new clients,” says Chris Ferris, president and CEO of Fidelity Bank. “However, it is never a good thing when a bank fails. Consumers and businesses put their trust in the financial industry and it is our duty to uphold that trust, provide our clients a safe and sound investment and conduct ourselves with integrity.” According to the president of Hancock and Whitney Bank, Joe Exnicios, Whitney Bank was in a unique position during the FNBC failure. “Honestly, the fallout was not a negative for us,” he said. “Let me preface that by saying we were in negotiations at that time with FNBC for two transactions — one negotiated in December 2016 — and our goal and efforts after a four-to-six-week conversation was to affect a transaction to assist with resolving their issues. We acquired one-third of their loan portfolio, totaling approximately $1.6 billion.” As part of the negotiations, Whitney Bank reopened all 29 branches of FNBC as Whitney Bank in Louisiana (24 branches) and Hancock Bank in Florida (five branches). Depositors with transactional accounts of FNBC automatically become depositors of Whitney Bank. Customers of FNBC retained their existing branch until they received notice from Whitney Bank that it had completed systems changes to allow other Whitney Bank branches to process their accounts. In addition to assuming the transactional deposit accounts of the failed bank, Whitney Bank agreed to purchase approximately $1 billion of the failed bank’s assets. The FDIC retained the remaining assets for later disposition. “FNBC had $600 million in advances from the federal loan bank,” Exnicios said. “We assumed that, as well as other deposits and assets. At the end of the day [FNBC] was able to increase its capital asset and got $200 million in liquidity by reducing their loan portfolio. We worked with the FDIC so FNBC’s customers wouldn’t be adversely affected or in limbo. Also,

Local Headline

Gulf Coast Bank Reacts to Tax Bill Bumps wages by $1 and community giving by 50 percent With the passing of tax reform bill in December, some banks are taking advantage of the tax rate reduction and increasing hourly minimum wages. New Orleans-based Gulf Coast Bank is among those announcing pay hikes. According to a press release from the bank, the $1.6 billion-asset bank increased its minimum wage to $12 per hour, up from $11 per hour. The change will impact about 50 employees mostly in the retail banking division and within the bank’s 19 locations in southeast Louisiana. The company also announced a 50 percent increase in funds devoted to its annual Community Rewards Program, which is an online initiative that rewards money to 10 organizations chosen by a community-wide vote. The bank serves its clients through branches, loan production offices, trust and investment offices and business credit offices. Business credit is offered nationally. Gulf Coast operates 19 branch locations across southeast Louisiana and over 45 locations in 12 states. / 49

we acquired all of their branches for 90 days to process transactions and then pushed them back to FDIC, as well as adding 65 to 75 employees to our ranks.” Exnicios said Whitney Bank entered negotiations with intentions to keep the bank going. “It’s never good when a bank closes in a community,” he said. “We were glad we were able to help with the situation.” President and CEO of Gulf Coast Bank, Guy Williams, said that FNBC grew rapidly after opening branches following Hurricane Katrina and supported the community through new loans for rebuilding and new businesses. FNBC experienced substantial growth; its assets went from nonexistent to $5 billion in a little over 10 years. “FNBC wanted to help the city out and they did,” Williams said. “But, the credits got too big and complex. Unfortunately, they did not succeed, but there are a lot of banks and competition in New Orleans and plenty of opportunities for customers to find the right financial institute that suits their needs. I expect 2018 to be a good year for the city, for small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and expand.” Williams says he doesn’t expect the FNBC fallout to harm the banking industry in the city. “The rest of the banks are ready and able to pick up the pieces,” he said, “and in the long run the consumers weren’t hurt, they got all of their money back, so that is a positive.” Exnicios suspects that many of the community banks in New Orleans hired FNBC employees and acquired new business afterward. “One could surmise that the fallout created a fair amount of activity, mostly positive, in the industry,” he said. “But you never like to get business at the cost of a competitor. There is enough business to go around., but I can say we do have a new customer base as a result.” Fidelity Bank’s Ferris said he expects 2018 to be an exciting year for the banking industry, saying that he thinks the tax reform will have a positive impact on the business community and banks. “For the past several years, small business owners had been hesitant to make investments due to economic uncertainty and the ever-changing regulatory environment,” he said. “Now, given the recent tax reform, which will lower the overall tax rate on businesses which is a positive, the bill also provides small business owners the opportunity to invest in and upgrade things like equipment, computers and rolling stock, because they will keep more revenue and be able to expense 100 percent of the equipment to replace the old. This will stimulate the overall economy. The tax reform will also benefit the banking community as it will allow us to take some of the cost savings due to the lower absolute tax rate, and re-invest it into

50 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

our business so that we can better support our clients, associates and the communities we serve.” “When you look around the city and see development and growth, generally a bank is behind the financing,” Exnicios said. “The recently signed tax act will affect banks of all sizes and create more profitability and more capital faster, resulting in more loans. We have a duty to get money back into the economy. “ Despite the FNBC failure, the local banking industry has remained strong. Even though federally insured financial institutions nationwide experienced a decline in net loans and leases, bank lending in the New Orleans area experienced close to a 10 percent increase over the past year.

The Wall Street Journal reported a “downshift” of nationwide net loans and leases by FDIC-insured institutions compared to last year, but New Orleans is actually in better shape. Lending at eight New Orleans-area banks was up nearly 10 percent year after year, according to an analysis of data pulled from the Uniform Bank Performance Report by the Federal Institutions Examination Council. “I am optimistic about where New Orleans is going and what lies ahead,” Exnicios added. “I think it would be difficult not to be optimistic about the city, and the banks that operate in the city are willing to change and expand with the growing needs of the community.” n / 51

Perspectives r e a l e s tat e & co n s t r u c t i o n

What is a CLS?

A CLS (Commercial Listing Service) can be operated as a commercial information exchange or a commercial multiple listing service, both serve the purpose of initiating a connection among realtors in a local market, with the intent of creating a better and more established real estate community. “It’s a platform that enables members (brokers, developers, appraisers, investors) to share data and take advantage of the resulting efficiencies,” said Neal Marten, vice president of regional accounts at Catylist. “It removes barriers, allowing small companies to focus their time and money on serving their clients.” Catylist serves as LACDB’s technology partner; the company has been building software solutions for the commercial real estate industry since 2001. “We host research solutions and listing services for over 40 associations across the United States and Canada,” Marten The Louisiana Commerical said. “Catylist’s management Database team has over 20 years of experi(LACBD) enables ence in their respective fields members to share of commercial brokerage and commercial real investment, data research and estate listings. software development.” The Louisiana Commercial Database

Technology is Reinventing the Real Estate Industry It’s all about the information in this ever-growing marketplace. by James Sebastien

a number of industries have succesfully

adapted and integrated with the technology sector in today’s digital age, including commercial real estate, where evolving changes have led to the creation of more effective internet tools, and as a result, a united real estate community in Louisiana with access to more information than ever. Founded in 2001, the Louisiana Commercial Database (LACDB), a site for commercial real

52 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

estate professionals, provides the necessary tools for agents to manage and share vital information throughout Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. The online database is powered by an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company called Catylist, a commercial listing service company that allows agents to research properties available for sale and lease, including offices, industrial, retail, apartments, hotels, special use, land and farms.

Snappy Jacobs, real estate broker and owner of Snappy Jacobs, CCIM Real Estate Management, as well as the 2018 NOMAR director at LACDB, said that the database was established to make it easier for all parties in a commercial real estate transaction to connect. The database uses the Catalyst platform and direct user input to provide up-to-the-minute listing, market and transaction data. “Commercial brokers, agents and appraisers who are LACDB members, along with their clients, all benefit from LACDB’s ability to provide transparent market and property data to allow informed decision making,” he said. LACDB is member-owned and operated by a board of managers, something designed to ensure locals have control of the commercial information. New Technology Offers Enhanced Research Capabilities

The respective boards of the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors (NOMAR) and Baton Rouge, in cooperation with the LACDB board of managers, launched an addition to LACDB called PRO Research, in 2017. / 53

join up

Networking with the CID New Orleans-area realtors can also obtain market information and a discount for LACDB membership by joining the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors (NOMAR). Cres Gardner, CCIM, SIOR, vice president of Beau Box New Orleans and 2018 president of the CID, said of the division’s status, “We have approximately 400 members and affiliates — people such as attorneys, architects and contractors — that service the real estate brokerage community.” According to Gardner, the real estate business is a balance between competition and trust.

In addition to the benefits that the LACDB provides, the release of PRO Research combines the base product capabilities of the LACDB with more enhanced research capabilities, ranging from transaction information and public data sources to state-of-the-art mapping and analytic technology. “The world of commercial real estate today is data and research driven,” said Paul Richard, commercial real estate broker at NAI Latter & Blum and a 2018 NOMAR director at LACDB. “The purpose [behind PRO is] to elevate the level of data, research and presentation capability available to the commercial brokerage community. Commercial investors, buyers and sellers today are sophisticated, knowledgeable about tax laws, and expect reliable data and research from their real estate professional.” The tools provided by LACDB PRO Research enable users to perform truly in-depth, comprehensive research in regard to any specific property of interest, along with the ability to apply aggregated market analysis. “LACDB PRO is the biggest advancement to LACDB since the launch of the commercial listing system over 15 years ago,” Marten said. “PRO provides a map-based, fully researched system with every commercial property in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.” The installation of LACDB PRO in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans markets allows brokers in these communities to access a property-centric database, look at availabilities, sale and lease comps, parcel boundary maps, ownership

54 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

information, tenant data, block-level demographics, traffic counts, geospatial searching, Google Earth integrations and custom branded “quick-click” reports. The program also provides retail site selection tools, works on all devices, provides real-time hot sheet alerts and allows for research-on-demand. “Because it is a property-centric platform, users have the ability to access data on any building in the marketplace,” said Marten. “Whether it’s currently listed or not.” Moving Forward

The LACDB has proven to be an industry leader and a prime example that a regional group of commercial practitioners can indeed come together on a common platform where they own and control the data and, ultimately, become the go-to source for commercial information in any marketplace. “LACDB’s goal is to continue to build an integrated digital research platform and database for all of Louisiana’s markets,” said Jacobs, “and grow the use of LACDB PRO to improve the transparency of property and market data for all LACDB members and their clients.” “Working with Catalyst, we will develop the analytics necessary to generate regular tracking reports on the commercial real estate industry in Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” said Richard. “As the LACDB family in Louisiana and Mississippi grows, the data platform can then aggregate commercial sales and lease data reports for each city and state. This will provide a unique public benefit and a significant research tool for the commercial brokerage community.”n

“My fellow members are competitors, but more importantly we are all trying to get deals done for our clients,” he said. “Trusting the agent on the other side of the deal makes the process much more efficient. The relationships that I have developed in CID have helped me to lease some of my office listings. The brokers I know in the organization bring tenants my way every day.” Bryce French, a sales, leasing and development agent at Max J. Derbes and a 2018 director at the CID, said that a big benefit of joining the CID for agents is the networking events. “These are great for developing a rapport with other commercial agents,” he said. “The CID networking events provide an after-work social environment where agents can get to know other agents in our market, as well as discuss the wants and needs of our clients.” On top of its multitude of networking events, the CID also offers three $1,500 scholarships (French himself is a past recipient), along with a variety of educational programs, from introductory courses to advanced topics for experienced members. For more information, visit / 55

Perspectives h e a lt h c a r e

Time for Senior Care? The tell-tale signs to look for when deciding to take that important step with a loved one by Keith Loria

As people age, many will get to a point

where they are no longer able to care for themselves without a lot of help. Family is not always available to provide the level of care needed, and some individuals with dementia need 24/7 supervision and assistance. These are all reasons why senior care facilities play such a vital role in society today. Senior care is such an important offering because it increases the safety, wellbeing and quality of life for seniors, but deciding when the time is right is not always as simple as black and white. “People need to start thinking about senior care when they start to notice that their physical or mental abilities are changing,” says Lisa Matherne, LCSW, director of behavioral health at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux. “You might start to have difficulty getting up from a low chair, getting in and out of the shower, etc. Most

56 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

people do not realize that their mental abilities are changing unless they have someone in their life who notices.” David Schonberg, owner of Schonberg Care — which has four facilities in Louisiana, including Vista Shores Assisted Living and Memory Care in New Orleans — says with more and more individuals being in better health and living longer, the result is a greater demand for assisted living and memory care communities. “Once it is determined that you or a loved one may be in need of the additional daily support that assisted living provides, that is a great time to begin touring local communities in your area,” he says. “Discuss your personal situation with the executive directors at those communities and allow them to answer any questions you may have and provide you with additional resources that will aid you in pursuing the right next steps for you.”

Jere Hales, chief operating officer of Lambeth House in New Orleans —which offers both independent and supportive living options — says it’s never too early to start planning and ideally, it’s recommended that planning be done when a person is independent and prior to an acute physical or cognitive decline. “This ensures that the senior’s personal preferences are known and can then be honored,” she says. “There is, of course, a greater urgency in planning and the implementation of that plan once a senior’s safety or health is involved. If there is a decline in one’s mental or physical capacity to the extent that the senior is no longer safe to live independently, then additional care and support like those offered in assisted living or nursing care should definitely be considered.” John “Jay” Rive, Jr., executive director of Kennerbased Brookdale Senior Living Inc., suggests the more a person can include their senior loved one in the process, the better the situation will be. “You want them to give you some ideas if something were to happen; your mom or dad may have an idea or may not, but at least it begins the discussion in a non-threatening manner,” he says. “The follow-up to that discussion could be making plans to visit some places and see what they are offering to see where they feel would be the best place for them.” Daniel J. Ritter, executive director of Inspired Living at Kenner — which, in addition to independent, assisted and memory care, also offers a short-stay option — believes the best time to look for senior care is before safety becomes a concern. “When a loved one starts to need help with their ADLs (activities of daily living), like dressing, grooming, bathing, etc.), that is definitely a sign,” he says. “Or if you notice that your loved one may not be taking care of themselves hygienically, then that could also be a sign that they may need help.” Ideally, Ritter shares, people should start looking for a facility in advance, while they are still independent, so when the right time comes, the research is done and an injury or fall doesn’t make the decision for someone. Knowing the Signs

The signs and symptoms of when to encourage a move to a more supportive setting are typically not episodic, but rather newly observed patterns of the older adult having difficulty doing things that have been a familiar part of their routine but are now a challenge. “When assessing an individual’s needs, aspects of their daily that should be considered include: the / 57


Prepare For Senior Care Plan financially: Consult a financial planner so you know what you can truly afford. Understand your savings and insurance options, which could cover the costs of moving into a facility or getting assistance at home.

individual’s ability to drive and navigate/ get around independently, their ability to take care of their own grooming and basic needs, the current level of assistance they are currently receiving from loved ones, their current level of social interaction and activity with friends and within their community, and their current overall wellbeing and quality of life,” Schonberg says. Hales notes physical changes might include continual or progressive mobility issues, especially those that result in frequent falls. Cognitive declines might present in the consistent inability to remember or recall new information or misplacing items or storing them in odd places. Other signs to look for include clutter around the house, weight loss and unsanitary conditions in the home. “There’s not just one sign; it’s a combination of a number of these that ultimately begins the process,” Rive says. It’s also important to have regular conversations about a senior loved one’s social needs — which can be equally as important as physical needs. Melanie Martin, senior lifestyle counselor at The Trace in Covington — an independent, assisted living and memory care neighborhood of 94 apartments, says that in addition to physical needs, some choose to move to The Trace to avoid boredom and loneliness. “Our youngest resident right now is 62 and our oldest is 102,” she says. “Some of them were functioning just fine but they were lonely, maybe their spouse passed away and their kids and grandkids have their own lives, so they ended up just sitting at

58 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

home watching TV. That’s not conducive to good physical or mental health.” In addition to a “world-renowned chef,” Martin says The Trace offers residents a long list of social activities, from the traditional standbys like bingo and rummy, to crawfish boils, shopping excursions and casino lunches. “We had a Mardi Gras parade this year and we typically have pep rallys during football season where we invite local high school cheerleaders,” she said. “We’re definitely out and about doing a lot of things in the community as well as keeping residents busy here at home.” Questions and Tests

In addition to medical tests, there are tests and evaluations, often administered by neurologists, that can determine a person’s cognitive status. Hales says these are used to diagnose different forms of dementia and can provide a baseline for observation, treatment, and can also be used to determine the appropriate level of care for an aging adult. “If there is any concern about whether a senior can continue to live independently, the best course of action is to consult the senior’s physician so that the appropriate care and support can be determined and coordinated,” she says. Some tests can take place without the input of a physician. Matherne notes that the Mini Mental Status Exam is used by many physicians as a basic screening tool, and it’s widely available on the internet if people want to try it.

Involve your loved ones: Assign a power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf. Also, have open discussions with family regarding the amount of assistance they may be able to provide, physically or financially. Look around: When looking for senior living communities, be sure to research and tour local options and ask questions to help you make the decision that will be right for you and your family. Ask about hidden prices and all-inclusive care. Downsize: Organizing one’s life and decreasing the overwhelming task prior to a transition to a different level of care can make a big difference, so starting earlier in life makes a great deal of sense.

While asking questions can help, Ritter feels it’s really observation that is key to making the right determination. “For instance, if your loved one tells you that they took a shower this morning but it looks like they haven’t bathed or changed clothes in a week, then that is certainly a problem,” he says. “I always like to ask questions about medications. Ask them what each pill that they take is and why they take it. Are they taking their meds? How does the pillbox look? Do any meds need refills?” Med management is a key component of moving into senior living as the facility will take care of refills and ensure that their daily medications are given. Getting Seniors Ready

Selling a senior on senior care can be tough, and often a lot of apprehension comes with it. While there are several books that can help with these difficult decisions, most believe the best approach is to have “the talk” early. “Plan accordingly with advanced directives, power of attorney, etc., because as dementia sets in, these things will be hard to achieve without going through interdiction or possibly seeing your loved one get hurt or injured at home, which is not fun,” Ritter says. “One book that I always recommend is ‘How to Say it to Seniors’ by David Solie.” Some people have less family involved in their daily life, so moving into a facility that will have more people around, activities going on and assistance with daily life activities like cooking can be a solid selling point. “We focus on those positive areas as much as possible,” Matherne says. “While at-home assistance is available, it can be much costlier than some senior care alternatives.” It’s a big life move, so it’s safe to assume there will be some apprehension, and offering support and understanding will go a long way. “Therefore, the best response is compassion, being careful not to dismiss the emotions of the senior,” Hales says. “Perhaps the best approach is to review the challenges with the older person emphasizing the need for safety and the fact that the support they need will be available. Although many older adults refrain from asking for additional help, many are relieved when it is finally made available to them.”n / 59

Perspectives gu e s t v i e w p o i n t

of several levels of tax rates with the top tax bracket at 35 percent, C-Corporations will have a flat tax rate of 21 percent effective Jan. 1. For corporations with fiscal year-ends, there will be blended rates for years beginning in 2017 and ending in 2018 to allow for the tax rate change. The new act also eliminates the special personal service corporation tax rate of a flat 35 percent and eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax. Some of the other changes to C-Corporation that could have a negative impact on taxes include the reduction of the dividends-received deduction and a limitation on net operating losses. Pass-Through Business Income

Have Tax Reform Act Questions? A brief rundown of how it may affect your business. by Gina Rachel

On Dec. 22, 2017 President Trump

signed into law H.R. 1, the new tax reform act. While some changes started in 2017, most will go into effect this year. Some are permanent, but other provisions change year to year or expire after Dec. 31, 2025. While the act was meant to simplify the tax code, it actually added 573 sections to the Internal Revenue Code. Even the official title of the bill is not simple:

60 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

C-Corporation Provisions

What makes this election so attractive is that in the new tax act, instead

If your taxable income is over $207,500 (single filers) or $415,000 (joint filers) and you are NOT a business that falls into a “service business,” there are other limitations in place to determine the allowable deduction. These limitations are based upon wages paid to employees and/ or investment in tangible personal property (i.e. equipment). Equipment Expensing

Businesses that invest in equipment will experience significant tax savings as a result of an increase in business expensing of asset purchases, new or used. This is the one item of the law passed that will allow taxpayers to take advantage of a deduction in 2017 and was expanded to include used property that is new to the taxpayer. Any equipment purchased from Sept. 27, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2022 can be 100 percent expensed through bonus depreciation. After 2022, the expensing decreases by 20 percent every year from tax years 2023 to 2027 as shown below. Equipment Purchased Year Expensing 9/27/17 to 12/31/2022












A p photo/ E va n V u cc i

An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 formerly known as The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (H.R. 1).

H.R. 1 will reduce taxes for most, but not everyone will benefit from the changes. Corporations that are taxed as a C-Corporation will benefit significantly from the new tax act, so much so that some businesses are considering electing to change their tax status to a C-Corporation. This is not something a business should rush into without properly looking at the long-term tax consequences of such a change, however, especially since corporate tax rates can be changed in the future.

To help businesses that are not taxed as a C-Corporation, the act allows for an individual to take a deduction of 20 percent of “qualified business income” from a pass-through entity. This deduction does not apply to income deemed to be wages or salaries. While this deduction can be significant for some taxpayers, it certainly complicates the individual tax return and businesses will be required to disclose more information to its owners than previously reported in order for owners to calculate the deduction. The provision should benefit most individuals who own businesses taxed as a pass-through, but depending on taxable income levels and the type of business, some will not be able to take advantage of this deduction, or will see limitations. For example, if your taxable income is less than $157,000 (single filers) or $315,000 (joint filers), there are no limitations on the deduction. If your taxable income is over $207,500 (single filers) or $415,000 (joint filers) and you are a business that falls into a “service business,” there will be no deduction allowed. A service business would include the fields of:

• Health; • Law; • Accounting; • Actuarial science; • Performing arts; • Consulting; • Athletics; • Financial services; • Brokerage services; and • Any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its owners or employees.

Increased Depreciation Expensing

The new act also increases depreciation expensing under Section 179 from $500,000 in 2017 to $1 million in 2018. The allowable depreciation expense amounts on passenger automobiles placed in service after 2017 also increases, plus the act shortens the depreciation life for all qualified improvements to real property to 15 years. Business Interest Expense

One of the deductions that businesses have always been allowed, but under the new tax act could be limited, are business interest expenses. This limitation does not apply to businesses that meet the $25 million or less gross-receipts test or floor-plan financing. The good news is that any interest not allowed can be carried forward indefinitely. The interest expense deduction is limited to the sum of: • Business interest income for the tax year. • 30 percent of the adjusted taxable income of the taxpayer for the tax year. • Floor-plan financing interest of the taxpayer for the tax year.

exchanges are the disposal of one asset and acquisition of another without creating a tax liability from the sale of the original asset. Under the new law, taxpayers can no longer apply these rules to tangible personal property, such as equipment. H.R. 1 provided some changes in business credits, which include limits to credits for clinical testing expenses for certain drugs used to treat rare diseases, and a change in the rehabilitation credit to require the credit to be taken over five years. The bill also created a new credit to businesses for payments to employees on family or medical leave. The new credit could be a 12.5 percent to 25 percent credit if the employee is paid at least two weeks and 50 percent or more of wages. This does not include amounts paid under sick, vacation or personal time-off. The new tax act overall should provide a reduction of taxes for most businesses, whether taxed as a C-Corporation or as a pass-through entity, but businesses should look at their tax structure to obtain optimal results under the new law. n

Other Provisions

Some other changes for businesses include limits to like-kind exchanges to real property only. Like-kind

Fidelity Bank’s P.O.W.E.R.ful Woman of the Month Shawntele Green Owner, Star Automotive 129 Enterprise Dr, Gretna, LA 70056

Repealed Deductions

Some not-so-good news that came out of this act was the repeal of the following deductions for all business entities: • Domestic production activities deduction; • FDIC premiums paid by large banks; • Deduction for all business entertainment except for food and beverage; • Limits meals provided for the employer’s convenience to 50 percent instead of 100 percent; • Deduction for transportation fringe benefit such as paid parking and bicycle reimbursements; and • Deduction for employee moving expenses as fringe benefit.


Star Automotive is a full-service repair and maintenance center providing a valuable service at a reasonable cost. Star Automotive is known for caring, maintaining and meeting the needs of vehicles through complete automotive repair.

Gina Rachel, CPA, is a Director at Postlethwaite & Netterville in the Tax Services Group. She has over 20 years of public accounting experience. Gina offers extensive knowledge in the field of taxation and works with a variety of clients including restaurants, hotels, real estate and professional services firms. Gina is active in the accounting profession and serves as the current Chair of the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants (LCPA).

Q: What were your biggest obstacles? A: When we formed our company, we ended up filing bankruptcy, lost our home, and had no money when we rented our first building on trust. Our biggest obstacles became bad credit and money issues but obstacles do not make me draw back, they make me stronger. Q: What is your biggest focus? A: We are coming up on our 10th anniversary June of 2018. Our goal is to buy our first piece of land and build our Automotive Shop. Q: What was the best advice you ever received? A: The best advice I have ever received is “Be True To Yourself.”


62 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

By Keith Twitchell Photographs by Romero & Romero

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Idea Village’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), we spoke with Executive Producer Victoria Adams Phipps about how this year’s event goes further than any that have come before.

taking over TH E C I TY

64 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018


New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) has grown from a small, post-Katrina gathering to a massive annual festival of entrepreneurship. NOEW 2018, to be held March 19 to 23, will be the 10th edition of this nationally recognized event, and The Idea Village, producer of NOEW, is celebrating the anniversary by implementing some new features. O ver the last several years, NOEW has made a substantial effort to involve more of the New Orleans community. Making NOEW a community event rather than simply a business event has been a major objective for Victoria Adams Phipps, the executive producer of NOEW. Biz New Orleans recently had the chance to sit down with Phipps in the Idea Village’s new home at The Shop, the new co-working space on the third and fourth floors of the Contemporary Arts Center. During the conversation, Phipps shared the humble beginnings of the largest entrepreneurism event in the city, what it takes to run NOEW and her team’s ambitious plans for the future.

How did NOEW get started? We never actually set out to start a festival. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week grew out of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. We were getting phone calls from MBA students from around the country who wanted to come to New Orleans and contribute to the recovery efforts, but they didn’t necessarily want to rebuild a roof or gut a house; they wanted to leverage the skill sets they were building in business school and apply those to local

companies. They didn’t just want to meet companies, they wanted to talk to the mayor, they wanted to meet other young professionals, they wanted to find a great place to get crawfish. We were [facilitating these meetings] around the clock and it was massively inefficient, so we decided to organize something around spring break — craft it as an experiential learning opportunity and get all these students to descend on New Orleans in one week. We did that for about two years, and then we realized there was some magic in bringing people together to support local companies. At that point, we decided to flip that experience on its head, not make it micro about students and companies, but broaden it to bring the whole community into supporting local entrepreneurs, learning about entrepreneurship and finding ways that entrepreneurship transforms the community. We became New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in 2009. Fast-forward to today, and you have a massive experience that engages thousands of people from all across the community, and really all across the region. What are a couple of the biggest ideas that have been launched out of NOEW? Launch, for NOEW, is an interesting term because we view ourselves as more of a platform. The vast majority of companies that are featured at NOEW have launched at some point earlier in the year and are now showcasing themselves at Entrepreneur Week. That said, we’ve had a few really cool ones come through our doors. One that I really love is Your Nutrition Delivered by Erik Frank. They’re a nutrition/wellness company that delivers healthy delicious meals to corporations, hospitals and so forth. Erik attended New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in 2012. He came to The Big Idea, our large, culminating event, and he said, “I’m going to be on that stage.” In 2013 Erik was on that stage and won the grand prize. I love that 360 of someone standing in the audience and envisioning themselves actually being able to achieve that. / 65

Favorites Favorite TV show: “The Crown” Favorite hobby: Read one book every week. Favorite book: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates Favorite word: Indomitable Biggest life lesson learned: Start as early as possible. Best advice ever received: From my father, who said, ‘From those to whom much is given, much is requested.’ Key daily habit: I start each day by listening to two or three podcasts; it gets my mind into my work. Pet peeve: Entrepreneurial buzzwords Favorite meal: An excellent slice of pepperoni pizza What are you looking forward to most in the next year: Adding a couple more stamps to my passport

66 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

AxoSim is another great one. They are a nerve-on-a-chip platform that is really changing the way drugs are tested, using engineered human nerve tissue. Basically, these chips look and function like real human nerves, which allows pharmaceutical companies to develop safer and more effective drugs before they even do clinical trials. The company recently raised $1.7 million from the National Institutes of Health, which is a huge win for AxoSim and for the community as well. It speaks to the type of companies that grow here. The last one I’ll mention is Where Y’Art, a great online gallery where you can meet hundreds of New Orleans artists — from painters to sculptors to craftsmen and jewelry designers. It’s a 24-hour meeting place where the artist is always present. They pitched at The Big Idea, they pitched at Demo Day in 2015, and they’re now partnering with the “300 for 300” campaign at, and issuing all the portraits for all those significant New Orleanians. It’s very cool to watch these companies go from a small seed idea to something that is reverberating all across our community. You said that there are some new and exciting things coming this year. What are a couple of the highlights? This will be the 10th New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, which is a major milestone for us — ­ to come from a gathering of a bunch of students and local startups to having engaged over 50,000 attendees in that time. We're excited to welcome JPMorgan Chase & Co. — one of our longest standing corporate partners — as our presenting sponsor this year. The biggest change is that this year many of our events will actually spread out across the city. Entrepreneurship doesn’t just take place downtown, it happens in neighborhoods all over our community, so we are really trying to embody that, and allow people to attend NOEW in their own neighborhood. We are working with our partner organizations — Propeller, Tulane, Loyola and LaunchNOLA — to execute their events around the community and building a dynamic calendar that is truly accessible. We’ll still be anchoring our core programs here at the Contemporary Arts Center, and at The Shop, but that will be a smaller, streamlined run of core educational programs. We’ll still have our keynote speakers, our networking events, our panels and education summits, but our pitch competitions — the featuring of local entrepreneurs — we’re spreading that love far and wide. Now that the event is going to the community, what are you doing to connect the community to the event? We’ve spent the last couple of months talking to our attendees, talking to our partners and understanding what the community really needs, and the one thing we have heard loud and clear is that strengthening our focus on the founders is key, regardless of what that founder looks like. You might have the founder of a hair salon or the founder of a massive tech company, but either way it’s focusing on that business owner, and tailoring our programs to align with that founder need. As it relates to broadening our reach, it’s just getting more of the community to know us and realize there is something for them

at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Our team has a renewed focus on being out in the community and hopefully finding some

planning, then it’s off to the races! In the past, NOEW has had over 100 events and over 50 partners. Managing that takes time, so we start pretty early.

synergies in the programs we are offering.

Let’s talk about you and your role in all this. What What’s the hardest part about the job? attracted you to be part of all this to begin with? The hardest part is whittling down all the great ideas that we Prior to working for the Idea Village, I worked in the music get. This past year we received over 200 submissions for roughly industry. I’m originally from Miami, Florida. I went to Loyola 20 speaker slots. So it’s not an easy job, and when you look at and graduated from their music industry program. the growth of New Orleans over the last couple of Hurricane Katrina was my freshman year, and in my decades, there’s so much talent in this city and really four years at Loyola I developed a deep commitment in the region, so figuring out how to whittle all that to this city, so upon graduation, I knew I wanted to down into one concise, final package is always the NOEW stay in New Orleans. I went to work for a local record hardest part. 2017 Facts company, doing artist and tour management, but doing tour management meant that I was traveling What’s the most fun part of the job? pretty heavily. I came off this long tour and realized The most fun is seeing it all come to life. You spend I was spending very little time in New Orleans, this full year working on something, putting your attendees which was the city I had committed myself to, and blood, sweat and tears into it, chugging coffee, staying up late trying to make it work, then you have that I said there’s something messed up about this. So magical moment when the lights turn on, and the I started looking for a transition, and at that time signs are in place, and that keynote that you busted the Idea Village was hiring a contractor to aid with official partners your ass to get is finally hitting the stage. That’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2011. That was the first year that they offered programs the best moment, the moment that it’s all worth it. broadly to the public and they were looking for keynote speakers someone to wrangle that. So I came on board for a What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned three-month stint that turned into six months, and from doing NOEW? fast forward to today, I’ve been here for seven years. Start as early as possible! (laughs) I originally joined the team as a program manager, panelists and helping on the direct service side with some of our What are you most excited about for this moderators vendors, but that quickly evolved into getting involved year? with some of our core programming, expanding our Hitting that 10 year benchmark in and of itself is workshop series and eventually growing to manage something I’m very excited about. I’m excited that startup businesses we’re making this transition to hosting the event all of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, which is highlighted citywide; it’s really important to reach people where what I do today. they’re at, to get out into the community, to make Can you talk a little bit about the team that things accessible in a true way, not just hosting a in-cash and in-kind makes NOEW happen? free event, but hosting a free event that is across prizes awarded The NOEW team is the Idea Village team; we the city, in different neighborhoods, in different are one and the same. We are a diverse group of locations, and features different levels of business passionate people, all of whom are committed owners. I’m really excited to add a new layer to that to New Orleans. Many of us are not originally accessibility this year. from here, but in some way, shape or form found our way to the city and made it our adopted home. Some of us came from the Are there any goals you still have for NOEW? startup world, some come from big corporations like Google or I think any large event has room to improve; you always want to Whole Foods Market, but everyone who works on New Orleans deepen your impact and expand your value. But the big goal that Entrepreneur Week has a commitment to contributing to their is looming out there in the distance is translating New Orleans Entrepreneur Week into a year-round experience. We will always community. That’s the thread that ties us all together and keeps have the week in March and dedicated programs that are taking us moving forward. place that week, but moving our content toward something that’s annual — doing industry-specific summits that might happen When do you start the planning for the next NOEW? quarterly, focusing on some of those industries that we have (laughs) Immediately following the end of NOEW! As soon as NOEW is over, we send out a series of surveys to our attendees, our a competitive advantage in, using those moments to catalyze speakers and our partners. We spend the next month understanding activity that can then culminate in New Orleans Entrepreneur that data — what worked, what didn’t, what could we improve, Week in March — that’s the big goal that our team is starting what could we revamp. We take about a week to do some strategic to hustle toward.

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$482,975 / 67

A Century 68 / Biz New Orleans / march 2018

n From defying Prohibition to tackling social media, Arnaud’s has conquered every challenge to secure its place as a beloved New Orleans institution celebrating 100 years of fine dining.

of Creole B y R e b e c c a F r i e d m a n p h o t o g r a p h s b y s a r a e s s e x br a d l e y / 69

n The bridge between old and new is apparent upon stepping into Arnaud’s Bienville Street entrance. To your left you'll find Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, one of the city’s hottest cocktail spots, with its sleek animal print chairs and James Beard Award-winning bar program. The elegant main dining room sits off to the right, and, apart from a few subtle changes, it looks much like it did in 1918, when Arnaud Cazenave first opened his namesake restaurant.


ow, fourth-generation co-propricatering to loyal customers who expect their favorite etors (and siblings) Archie and dishes while tweaking the offerings and experience Katy Casbarian are responsible to entice new visitors. for maintaining the traditions “It’s not that we are averse to change,” Archie of service, cuisine and elegance emphasizes. “We are averse to radical change.” The decision not to bow to culinary fads over the that have fueled Arnaud’s for a century while also broadening its reach to a new generation of diners years has helped Arnaud’s (and the small group of — all in the context of the city’s highly competitive remaining traditional Creole restaurants) stand out culinary scene. from the city’s mushrooming field of new cuisines. In Archie and Katy consider the current marketplace the past, explains Katy, most New Orleans restaurants a challenge they’re lucky to face. offered Creole or Cajun fare, “so you could potentially “We say we have one foot in the past and one in the be lumped in… now, there are just a few of us that future,” explains Katy. “We’re never going to deviate are distinctly different than that, and I think that’s a from being a traditional Creole restaurant — that’s great thing.” what makes Arnaud’s so special. That doesn’t mean, One area that has seen noticeable change, however, however, that we can’t change the way we speak to is Arnaud’s sprawling interior — it spans 11 connected our customers by way of some of our dishes, cocktails, buildings and 17 dining rooms — which has been service or marketing. So those are things we upgraded to offer some of the city’s most unique balance and focus on.” private dining spaces. This balanced approach appears to be working. “Just because some of our menu items haven’t According to the Casbarians, cover counts (the changed since 1918 doesn’t mean you want to sit number of guests each server has per shift) are in a dining room that hasn’t changed since 1918,” up, as are the organization’s top and bottom lines. says Katy. “We’ve put a lot of thought into the CLOCKWISE: Longtime, former head maitre d’, “Year over year, the company is growing, and I way that we look.” Charles Abbyad, right, feel like we are managing the growth well,” says passes the mantle Archie. “But we measure our success one meal at S p e a k i n g to a New Au d i e nce to Augie Spicuzza, a time. That sounds cliched, but it’s important, of D i n e r s the new maitre d’. and that’s how you build a business like this. It Soufflee potatoes. doesn’t just happen.” The Counts Room is * This desire to provide an unmatched the largest private dining atmosphere is just one tactic to appeal to dining room, and Sta n d i n g O u t F r o m t h e C r o w d customers who didn’t grow up with Arnaud’s, a recently underwent a population that has grown considerably with the complete renovation. After 100 years in business, it would be influx of new residents after Katrina. * A commemorative easy for a traditional restaurant to grow stale, Katy and Archie devote a lot of energy to bringing cake celebrating 100 so Arnaud’s is continually toeing a fine line: more of these consumers through their doors. years in business.

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W e at h e r i n g a C e n t u r y of S to r m s


“We want them to think of Arnaud’s when they’re entertaining,” Archie explains, “not just as a special occasion kind of place but as an everyday restaurant where you can have a great meal and a great time.” The most effective avenue for outreach has been social media, which the company has incorporated heavily into its marketing mix. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow Arnaud’s to tell a visual story of what’s happening in the restaurant. While the audience was initially a younger demographic, Arnaud’s social media platforms now reach an older clientele as well, making it an appealing investment of time and resources. In addition to updating their communication channels, Arnaud’s is also evolving the way they speak to customers, adopting what Katy calls, “a little bit more of a modern voice.” By changing the tone of their advertising, Katy and Archie hope to communicate that Arnaud’s is a place to have a good time. “Our service is formal, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Katy. “We like to have fun. It’s not a stuffy environment by any means, and we want that conveyed through our marketing.”

facing page: Jane Casbarian, Archie Casbarian and Katy Casbarian top: Chef Tommy DiGioavanni

For Arnaud’s, the road to 100 hasn’t always

been smooth. The restaurant was founded by French wine salesman Arnaud Cazenave, who enjoyed bringing New Orleanians the finest in dining and drinking. The restaurant survived Prohibition, during which Count Arnaud (as he was known) found ways to flout the law, ensuring that patrons continued to enjoy themselves in the manner to which they had grown accustomed. After Cazenave’s death, the restaurant was operated by his daughter, Germaine Cazenave Wells, who continued to let the good times roll. Wells also presided as queen over 22 Carnival balls — more than any woman in history. Arnaud’s operates an onsite Mardi Gras Museum showcasing her gowns and related memorabilia (see sidebar). By the 1970s, the restaurant had fallen from its midcentury heyday onto hard times, with several dining rooms shuttered due to disrepair. In 1978, Wells sold the operation to Archie Casbarian Sr., a hospitality professional who had made a career managing luxury hotel properties, including the Royal Sonesta (located across the street from Arnaud’s). When Archie Sr. and his wife, Jane, took charge of the restaurant, they faced a monumental task that included a massive renovation during a period of sky-high interest rates. “It was very risky, particularly with two small children,” says Katy of her parents’ endeavors. “In some ways, taking over a restaurant that had fallen out of local favor is much more difficult, I think, than just building a restaurant from the ground up. What they were able to accomplish is amazing.” “We watched them fight for every last person to come in this restaurant and give them a chance again — people that had written the place off,” adds Archie. “We watched them get faith restored by the locals and by visitors. It was a huge undertaking to get back to where we are right now.” When Archie Sr. passed away in 2009, his children were already involved in the business, but stepping up to the leading role brought its own challenges. These included a severe economic downturn, followed by the BP oil spill in 2010. “We had a lot of pressure to weather all those storms,” says Archie. “As each one hit us in the face, and we managed to survive that round in the ring, it really felt good.” Nearly a decade later, challenges continue, albeit on a smaller scale. / 73

n “We had a lot of pressure to weather all those storms,” says Archie. “As each one hit us in the face, and we managed to survive that round in the ring, it really felt good.”

Last year a major infrastructure repair of Bourbon Street ran behind schedule (it began in May 2017 and finally wrapped up in January 2018), creating a headache for the restaurant and customers alike. “The project was long overdue,” says Archie. “But, of course, there’s never a good time for it to happen… Certainly to have a hit in the summertime, which is historically a downtime for us anyway, made that knife cut a bit deeper.” The siblings also acknowledge that it can be a struggle to attract locals to the French Quarter for dinner, so added deterrents like construction, parking and crime (another ongoing issue) don’t help. But, adds Katy, “Those are not things we just throw our hands up and complain about. We are in there trying to help. We’re at the table having meetings; we do what we can do. But it’s a challenge, and it certainly affects our bottom line.” Like other local restaurants, Arnaud’s also faces a tight labor market and works hard to attract and retain a strong workforce. Although the operation employs about 220 people, the management prides itself on maintaining a family feel, including many staff members who have been on board for decades. However, Katy acknowledges, “I think it will always be a challenge in this city.”

A Ye a r to C e l e b r at e


As its 100th anniversary unfolds,

Arnaud’s has plenty of reasons to raise a glass, and Katy and Archie say they don’t take any of it for granted. “Growing up, the majority of our lives were spent here,” says Archie. “We saw what it takes, how difficult it was to turn the ship around… the blood, sweat and tears and struggles of making it happen. We really feel that we are a part of something

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top left: Speckled Trout Amandine bot tom: French 75 cocktail right: Servers work a busy Sunday brunch. In the background, formal portraits of Jane and Archie Casbarian Sr. have joined their predecessors on the walls of the main dining room.

Mark Your Calendar Centennial C e l e b r at i o n s Arnaud’s anniversary celebration will take place throughout 2018, with a series of events honoring the restaurant’s generations of ownership. The following events will be open to the public: Cocktails in the Count’s Room, honoring Count Arnaud Cazenave (years of ownership: 1918-1948) Thursday, May 10 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Germain’s Champagne Campaign, honoring Germaine Cazenave Wells (years of ownership: 1948-1978) Friday, Sept. 21, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Arnaud’s is also planning throwback specials, prixfixe menus and commemorative cocktail glasses to be introduced throughout the year. / 75

Timeline of notable events 1 9 1 8 : "Count" Arnaud Cazenave opens the restaurant that bears his name. 1 9 2 0 - 1 9 3 3 : Prohibition. Arnaud’s keeps the spirits flowing through coffee cups and private rooms until the count is jailed and the restaurant closes — briefly. 1 9 4 8 : Germaine Cazenave Wells assumes the role of proprietress and spreads Arnaud’s fame worldwide. The restaurant enjoys a boom, then a gradual decline by the 1970s. 1 9 7 8 : Jane and Archie Casbarian Sr. purchase the then-run-down restaurant and begin restoring it to its former glory. 1 9 9 4 : Remoulade, an adjacent café and oyster bar facing Bourbon Street, is introduced to offer a more casual dining experience. 2 0 0 3 : Arnaud’s unveils its French 75 Bar, showcasing classic cocktails and high-end spirits. 2 0 0 9 : Siblings Archie and Katy Casbarian take over Arnaud’s operations, introducing the historic restaurant to a new generation of locals and visitors. 2 0 1 7 : Arnaud’s French 75 Bar wins the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. 2 0 1 8 : Arnaud’s celebrates its 100th anniversary.

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bigger than us. There aren’t a lot of companies, let alone restaurants, that have been around for a hundred years, so it’s an honor to be another generation taking care of this place and being part of its history.”

D i s h e s t h at Sta n d t h e T est of T i m e


Arnaud’s best-selling dishes haven’t changed

much over the years. The No. 1 spot for appetizers goes to Shrimp Arnaud (their version of shrimp remoulade), which has been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception. The baked oyster appetizers also remain as popular as they were in Arnaud’s early days. For entrees, the gulf fish Pontchartrain and the filet mignon au poivre, which were added to the menu mix during the third generation of ownership, top the list.

The James Beard Foundation honor s Arnaud’s French 75 Bar


When Arnaud’s French 75 took home the

James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2017 (after several previous nominations), the effect was palpable. “People would come in just wanting to see the medal,” laughs Archie. That win came as the result of years of hard work by head bartender Chris Hannah and his team, who helped realize a vision for the bar first held by Jane and Archie Casbarian Sr. “We were especially proud because we knew our father was looking down,” says Katy. “Anytime you can be recognized on a national level amongst people that you idolize is quite an honor. It was thrilling for us.” The recognition has also raised the bar for success. “After winning that award, the most important thing is to do even better than what we did before,” says Archie. “That’s the new goal – to get back on that stage.”

Archie also shares a memory of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who were dining at Arnaud’s one evening during Mardi Gras: “At the time, they were probably the two most recognizable people on the planet, and they wanted to take a stroll down Bourbon Street, which they couldn’t do without being mobbed. Our director of sales grabbed two Mardi Gras masks. They put those on and strolled up the street, and nobody had a clue of who they were. Where else would that happen?”

C e l e b r i t y G u ests


Arnaud’s has seen its share of famous faces

over the years. Katy and Archie recall a couple of notable moments: During their fundraising efforts after Hurricane Katrina, former presidents Bush (Sr.) and Clinton dined at Arnaud’s with Ellen DeGeneres. “As many celebrities and musicians as we’ve had here, I have never seen that level of interest,” says Katy. “Everyone was trying to go to the table. We had to put staff around the table just to block people so they wouldn’t be bothered and could actually enjoy their meal. We had Bono here recently — he is like a rock god — and it didn’t even compare to the way people reacted to [Bush and Clinton].”

G e r m a i n e C a z e n av e W e l l s M a r d i Gras Museum left: French 75 cocktails in a

For a taste of Carnival nostalgia, visit Arnaud’s


upstairs museum, which houses costumes and memorabilia from the Cazenave family, including the Empress gown worn by Germaine’s mother, Lady Irma, when she reigned as queen of Iris in 1941. The museum is free and open to the public during restaurant hours, seven days a week.

champagne flute. top: Outgoing maitre d’ Charles Abbyad inspects servers’ uniforms before Sunday brunch. / 77

Southe a st louisiana businesses in full color


Jacques Rodrigue, son of famed late artist George Rodrigue, offers businesses many ways to partner with his father’s foundation to support arts education.

From The Lens g r e at wo r k s pac e s

A New View Krewe du Optic gives its French Quarter flagship store a fresh look. by Melanie Warner Spencer photos by Sara Essex Bradley

Upon entering Krewe du Optic — brainchild

of 29-year-old photographer and eyewear designer Stirling Barrett — in the French Quarter, visitors are greeted with a friendly hello and asked, “Would you like something to drink? Frosé or a LaCroix?” The bright, narrow, minimalist showroom housed in a circa-1875 building, is awash in white with blonde wood accents, scored, newly stained

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concrete and a corner loaded with plants in pots on the floor and up the wall. Until recently the space, which also has a café, courtyard and upstairs design studio, retained the same look it has had since opening in 2013. For its update, design decisions were based on several factors, including the company’s plan to release a new “frame family” every two weeks.

The company also wanted to respond to storage needs, the day-to-day concerns of employees and the need for a good old-fashioned freshening up. “We had three, large thick shelves on the walls, which didn’t allow us to display everything,” says Ashley O’Neill, Krewe du Optic social media manager. “We’ve updated a lot of the plants and pots. Nature, being active, is part of our branding.”

Krewe du Optic, founded by Stirling Barrett, is housed in a circa-1875 building in the French Quarter. The downstairs showroom and cafĂŠ is 900 square feet and the second floor design studio is approximately 1,000 square feet. / 81

The most dramatic changes in the redesign were repainted walls, additional display shelving in several areas, and the covering of the cash wrap near the exposed brick wall in brass. The scored concrete floor was also stained.

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Being active and getting outdoors is part of the company’s philosophy. To bring elements of nature into the store, there is a plethora of potted plants situated at the front entrance and throughout the space.

The company — whose eyewear is favored by models, musicians and Hollywood A-listers — worked with local design and fabrication firm Goodwood for the additional shelving, as well as other cabinets, counters and an updated cash wrap station. The cash wrap, formerly white but now covered in brass with cypress storage shelving in the back, is located in front of an exposed brick wall. To the left, a cabinet topped in Carrera marble is suspended from the wall. Continuing past the cash wrap into the space between the showroom, café and courtyard is the optical room, which has additional white, powder-coated open shelving under a

stairway on one side and white, metal shelving on the other wall. Exposed brick peeks out above the partially white wall. The café has new signage and the counter was updated with whitewashed cypress and bronze edging. Visitors are encouraged to relax in the café or courtyard, use the Wi-Fi and work or hang out while enjoying the aforementioned frosé or LaCroix, frozen matcha or a coffee beverage (made with La Colombe). In the courtyard, three white metal bistro tables with corresponding chairs sit along one side and plants and mirrors hang from the opposite wall. / 83

The courtyard offers a respite for customers and any other visitors who want to relax with coffee or a frosé. Additional powdercoated shelving was added to a nook under the stairs.

In addition to opening a location in New York and expanding its prescription offerings and frame designs, Krewe du Optic is currently busy building its new headquarters in the Lower Garden District and another optical store on Magazine, slated to open later this year. Barrett’s vision is at the forefront of the design for his showrooms, collaborating with New York-based Nicole Cota Studio, whose work New Orleanians know from The Drifter Hotel in Mid-City. The design studio — not open to the public — is located upstairs from the showroom. The studio appears more like a converted studio apartment, with a kitchen, a long work table covered in sketches and frame samples and a balcony. This is where eyewear is designed and also where the company’s local staff of 35 has meetings and brainstorming sessions, as well as parties and Carnival parade gatherings. The updated design of Krewe du Optic centered on the showroom, café and courtyard. “It’s bright, airy and opposite of most of the French Quarter,” says Chris Yarbrough, merchandising manager. “We definitely have more room to put out more product. The optical room really doubled. It’s perfectly in line with our optical program. We had a small window of prescriptions that we could fill and now we can do pretty much anything with prescriptions and lenses. We don’t have to say no to anyone.” n

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At a Glance

Krewe du Optic Address: 809 Royal St. Office completed: 2013 Interior Designer: Stirling Barrett, company founder Furnishings: Designed by Krewe and fabricated by GoodWood Square footage: 900 square feet (first floor); 1,000 square feet (second floor studio) Main goal: “When we opened the French Quarter store, we said, ‘New Orleans is a small city and we aren’t able to support a concept store, but what would a New Orleans Concept Store look like?’” says Barrett. “When you walk into the Krewe store, you’re surrounded by plants. The showroom floor is a clean, beautiful experience that lets the eyewear stand for itself. In the back we have a free courtyard and café. When someone comes into your home you want to serve them something — that’s important to us in this space. We make sure that Krewe hospitality is felt throughout the entire store and gives you an experience you can’t receive anywhere else.” Biggest Challenge: “The building is from the late 1800s and in the French Quarter, so we had to work with what we had,” says Barrett. “It’s a wonderful location and structure that we love and cherish.”

The brass covered cash wrap was fabricated by GoodWood.

Standout Feature: “The ability to see so much more product in a more enjoyable way is the best feature,” says Barrett. “Personally, I love the brass cash wrap, but that’s just because I’m obsessed with brass.” / 85

From The Lens w h y d i d n ’ t i t h i n k o f t h at ?

Om for the Little Ones Yoga is a growing pastime in the U.S. — up over 50 percent in the last 5 years — and Lolo’s Studio, New Orleans’ first yoga studio for kids, is looking to help the next generation get in on the action. by Ashley McLellan photos by cheryl gerber

If you stop by Lolo’s Studio at 6107

Magazine Street expecting a raucous cacophony of kids screaming, you may be surprised. That’s not to say that students at New Orleans’ first “yoga and fitness studio for kids” don’t have fun, but rather that owner, teacher and director Laurie Azzano has helped her students key in on something more: the idea that fitness and fun can go hand in hand with relaxation and mindfulness. And what’s more, once these kids get a taste for meditation, they can’t seem to get enough. Magic? Perhaps, but not really. Since celebrating the grand opening of Lolo’s Studio on Dec. 2, Azzano has found that the kids in her yoga and fitness classes crave a mix of both performance and poses with the calm that resting, relaxation and meditation can bring together as a whole. This is a concept known in yoga circles as the “mind-body connection.” “I had a home practice for about five years, and then I became certified to teach kids,” Azzano said. “Lola’s is about more than yoga; it’s a place for kids to have fun, focus on healthy and good lifestyle practices, and yoga is a part of that. Kids want focus and calm in their lives. Their lives can by so busy that they crave a time to relax and focus.” Adult yoga enthusiasts have long since figured out the benefits of mind-body fitness programs, and classes, retreats and seminars on such have become big business.

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According to a 2017 report by the National Institute of Health, 9.5 percent of American adults (or 21 million people) practice yoga regularly. But the rise of yoga hasn’t been limited to grownups alone. The number of kids practicing yoga at home, in studios like Lolo’s and in school, now adds up

to 3.1 percent. That’s 1.7 million kids, a number that has risen by 429,000 from 2007 to 2012. Azzano says she was inspired to bring yoga to kids after a number of years practicing for herself. “I’ve always been a runner,” she says. “I’ve been running since I was 14. I started yoga for flexibility


Lolo’s Studio, 6107 Magazine St., is the first “youthcentered” yoga studio in New Orleans. Classes for kids as young as 5 through teenagers focus on a mindbody connection with yoga, meditation, art and healthy body instruction. Owner and yoga teacher, Laurie Azzano, provides girls- and boys-only classes, as well as art classes, mixed youth classes, and classes just for moms. A series of martial arts classes and a summer camp appear on an ever-evolving schedule. Check the website for more information,

Hatmaker Colby Hebert moved his chapeau boutique, The Cajun Hatter, from New Iberia to New Orleans in October 2017, with the goal of carrying on his handcrafted tradition on the city’s famed Magazine Street. “There were no other hatmakers [excluding milliners] in Louisiana with this traditional skill that I could learn from,” he said. “This has made my job much more difficult, but it’s been worth every minute.”

Who Practices Yoga? There are currently 36.7 million U.S. yoga practitioners, up from 20.4 million in 2012. Practitioners are significantly more involved in many other forms of exercise such as running, cycling and weightlifting, than nonpractitioners. 74 percent of American practitioners have been doing yoga for five or fewer years. The top five reasons for starting yoga are: flexibility (61 percent); stress relief (56 percent); general fitness (49 percent); improve overall health (49 percent) and physical fitness (44 percent). Among practitioners, 86 percent self-report having a strong sense of mental clarity, 73 percent report being physically strong and 79 percent give back to their communities — all significantly higher rates than non-practitioners. Women represent 72 percent of practitioners. A Booming Industry 34 percent of Americans say they are somewhat or very likely to practice yoga in the next 12 months. 80 million more Americans will likely try yoga for the first time in 2016. Students spend $16 billion per year on classes, gear and equipment, up from $10 billion in 2012. New Trends to Monitor 37 percent of practitioners have children under the age of 18 who also practice yoga.

and performance and to prevent injury. It’s also a great full-body workout. What I wasn’t expecting were the mental benefits. That’s what I want to bring to my clients, that mind-body connection. Azzano started getting involved with teaching kids by volunteering with her daughter’s Girls

on the Run group — a nonprofit that encourages running in girls in grades three through five. “I found that I really enjoyed working with kids,” she says. “They asked me to teach them some yoga because they knew I practiced at home, and it went from there.”

30- to 49-year-olds are 43 percent of the practicing public, followed by 50+ (38 percent) and 18-29 (19 percent). Source: 2016 Yoga in America Study by Yoga Journal. / 87

A recent Parents Magazine article cites five ways practicing yoga may benefit school-aged children, including: enhancing flexibility, refining balance and coordination, developing focus and concentration, boosting self-esteem and confidence, and calming the mind. Azzano says she has seen all of those benefits reflected in the practice of her students. “It’s been interesting to see the positive peer influence that has come out of group focused yoga,” she says. “It has been really surprising. Often peer groups can have a negative impact, so it’s been great to see them interacting and trying new things in a positive way.” Another thing Azzano says has been surprising has been her students’ response to meditation. Drop-in prices are typically $15 per one-hour class, or $96 for an eightweek session. The same applies for “Mom’s Yoga,” currently offered from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. “After I lead them through poses, we spend time in meditation,” she says. “I thought at first they would rush through it, but it’s often the thing they ask for the most. They really enjoy the time to calm down, relax and process the day.” Lolo’s has classes for all age groups, and special classes designated just for boys and just for girls. “I have had students as young as 5 years old,” she says. “We incorporate play, some poses, some breath work and more play. Yoga allows young people to get in touch with their bodies, and helps to also focus their brains.” While many of Lolo’s current students are girls, Azzano says she offers boys-only group classes in order to encourage the practice for both demographics, a trend she says has been slow to come to New Orleans. “Boys tend to have a hard time initially relaxing into it, but once they do it really works for them and they get into it,” she says. “In a recent boys class, I led a group and one boy afterwards asked if he could share. He shared that he realized how stressed he had been about a recent school project. After sharing, another boy said that he had felt stressed about the same thing.” Azzano says that as celebrity role models also emphasize the health benefits of a yoga practice it can further encourage both young boys and girls to get started.

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After school and summer camp art classes provide another opportunity for mind-body connection for Lolo’s students, in addition to a full roster of yoga and meditation classes.

“Lolo’s is a nickname my husband gave to me. When I hear it, it reminds me of a time when life was not so hectic. It makes me feel more relaxed and always makes me smile. I always knew I wanted to use it for my business. It represents the feel that I want the business to have.” Laurie Azzano

“Things are changing across the country,” she says. “It hasn’t happened completely in New Orleans just yet. We see athletes such as LeBron James and other NBA players, football players, tennis players all getting involved in yoga as part of their fitness. It helps with a range of motions and balance, and is great for everyone,” Azzano said. Lolo’s Studio business model reaches for something unique, especially in New Orleans, according to Azzano: getting kids to embrace yoga and overall fitness at an early age in order to guide a lifetime of healthy choices, both mentally and physically. “I encourage students to get involved in yoga early so that they have a lifetime of enjoying the practice,” she says. “They learn how to self-calm in their teen years for example. They know how to identify the emotions they are feeling and how to work with them. We offer not just yoga, but fitness where there is no competition. It’s about feeling good, being good.” Lolo’s philosophy of mind-body is expanding each month. Azzano is excited to incorporate all aspects of health living in order to give her students the essential tools they need as they grow into adulthood. “I feel we are filling a new category of fitness. I have a thousand ideas I am excited to try,” she said. “Right now we are continuing to build in multiple aspects of fitness, with yoga as a big component, for all. We recently had a self-defense class for boys and are going to have another one for teenage girls. We have an after-school program that is really strong. We will have a summer camp for girls, which will be a full day of camp where we do fitness, yoga and art. We will bring in experts that will teach us about nutrition and cooking and healthy living. There’s so much more to do and we are looking forward to it.” n

Lolo’s Studio owner Laurie Azzano (left) and business partner and art director Claudia Blom. / 89

From The Lens m a k i n g a m atc h: b u s i n e s s e s a n d n o n pro fi t s


george rodrigue foundatoin of the arts Mission: George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) advocates the importance of the arts in the development of our youth. GRFA encourages the use of art within all curriculums and supports a variety of art educational programs. Website: Location: 747 Magazine St. New Orleans, LA 70130 Annual Budget: $750,000 Ongoing Partnerships: AT&T, Cox Communications, Chevron, French Quarter Festival, Jones Walker LLC, Louisiana Division of the Arts, Louisiana Education Loan Authority, Sheraton New Orleans, SLS Arts, Windgate Charitable Foundation

Sit, Stay, Create The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts continues its namesake’s passion for arts education. by Pamela Marquis photos by jeffery johnston

W h e n i t c o m e s t o i n s p i r at i o n , a r t i s t s

commonly don’t look very far. Vincent van Gogh, for example, was prone to serving as his own model, while James McNeill Whistler’s most famous work was of his mother, Anna Whistler. For George Rodrigue — creator of one of Louisiana’s most iconic images, Blue Dog — it was his small terrier and spaniel mix, Tiffany, who had the honor of being immortalized. In 1980, Rodrigue began work on a book of Louisiana ghost stories that was to be sold at the 1984 World’s Fair. Among those stories was “Slaughter House,” which starred a very evil dog. It’s never mentioned by name, but the artist was

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surely painting the infamous loup-garou. While Rodrigue often stated that Tiffany, his constant studio companion, was in no way the evil dog, her simple shape turned out just right to illustrate his story. “My father’s paintings look simple because they’re so complicated,” says his son, Jacques Rodrigue, executive director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA). “He also knew the importance of the image and he was careful with it. He knew how not to ruin it or exploit it.” The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts began in response to September 11, when Rodrigue created a “God Bless America” print featuring Blue Dog that raised $500,000 for the American Red Cross.

Current Needs: GRFA is currently looking for sponsors for its 2018 Annual Scholarship Art Contest to help underwrite each of its 15 scholarship levels. Sponsors are also needed for four upcoming Aioli Dinner events. LAA+ seeks statewide fundraising support year-round in order to continue to add new schools to the network. Ways a company can partner with GRFA: Sponsor art contests; Serve as judges; Sponsor scholarships; Shop on the foundation’s website for prints, cookbooks and more; Purchase a print and donate it to a worthy cause Major Fundraising Event(s): Through the Aioli Dinner Supper Club GRFA hosts multi-course wine-paired dinners to recreate George Rodrigue’s famous Aioli Dinner painting from 1971. Proceeds benefit GRFA’s art in education programs. The organization has hosted 15 successful dinners throughout the state, and plans to host four to six dinners each year. Upcoming Dinners: April 19 Uptown, New Orleans April 28 Northshore For more information, visit

Jacques Rodrigue, executive director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA)

A Good Match

FOR COMPANIES WHO… are dedicated to the power of the arts and education

“With that, my father discovered what the image could do to tell a story in the moment,” Jacques says. “He was also committed to promoting arts education.” In a video on the foundation’s website, Rodrigue, who died in 2013, shared his thoughts. “Art to me has been a driving force in my life. It taught me discipline and it gave me a goal. It gave me a direction where I wanted to go and it changed my whole life. And that’s what I want to do for kids; and that’s what the foundation is about.” The foundation currently provides a variety of programs that benefit arts education. It continues to offer prints through its Print Donation Program, which has helped more than 1,000 organizations raise more than $3 million at their fundraising events through raffles and silent auctions. An exclusive silkscreen print can be purchased by nonprofits for $500. These prints consistently raise thousands of dollars. The Rodrigue family recently re-released George Rodrigue’s historic post-Katrina Blue Dog print, “We Will Rise Again” (2005) to benefit schools throughout Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Harvey. The sale of this limited edition print raised over $200,000. The foundation also aided teachers and students with a donation of art supplies to schools that felt the impact of the storm through the efforts of its George’s Art Closet program. The Art Closet program addresses the need for classroom supplies by awarding art supply kits to art teachers and schools whose funding does not otherwise allow for the expense. Generally, the program awards two $1,000 kits each month to select elementary, middle and high schools across Louisiana. The kits include things like hole punches, glue sticks, tempera paint, watercolors and crayons. Teachers can also choose items they really need, such as a projector or printer. “Teachers so often spend out of pocket to provide supplies for their students,” said Jacques. “And the arts are the very first thing that gets cut from a school’s budget.” GRFA also awards college scholarships to high school seniors and juniors through an annual visual arts competition. To many, it’s the first step to making their

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making a difference

SUCCESS OF SERVICES: Louisiana A+ Schools (LAA+) trains teachers in arts integration teaching methods through ongoing training and professional development. In only five years, LAA+ has trained over 700 teachers in 18 schools statewide. These teachers impact the lives of over 10,000 students and families every day. After several years of success, LAA+ is now its own nonprofit organization, with continued support from GRFA and a statewide board of directors. Through its annual Scholarship Art Contest, GRFA awards college scholarships to Louisiana high school juniors and seniors selected through an open submission process. Since 2009, GRFA has received over 5,600 entries and awarded a combined $366,250 in scholarships to 135 students.

passion for art a career. The very first winner of the scholarship was Sean Hicks, who is currently pursuing a degree at Savannah College of Art and Design. Hicks is planning to graduate from the school’s master’s program next year, after which he hopes to work in the illustration market. “The foundation is doing great things, and I hope to return the favor one day for the support they’ve given me,” Hicks said. “They’re like a family to me, and I will never forget how they helped me pursue my career with the scholarship program.” Louisiana A+Schools is another GRFA program; it’s a research-based whole school network that provides an artsintegrated curriculum. “It uses some type of art, whether it’s visual arts, music or theater, in every classroom and every subject from math to history,” said Jacques. “We know that creativity can develop better problemsolving skills, more confidence and imagi-

nation in our youth. We also know how often we find new ideas through art.” Hicks sums up the importance of the foundation: “Everywhere you go, you’ll see art in the homes of Louisiana: whether it’s music, the culinary cooking, or of course, paintings. Now, imagine if that part of our culture was suddenly cut off due to limited funds for art programs? The George Rodrigue Foundation is helping to prevent that by funding art educational programs.” The staff at the foundation, his family, its many partners and all of the students who benefit from GRFA are keeping Rodrigue’s legacy alive every time they create art, learn about how art can enrich their lives or sketch a Blue Dog. “More than anything, my father loved going to the schools and sitting down with the students to draw the Blue Dog,” said Jacques. “His culture and his passion for art are all a part of his remarkable legacy.” n

George’s Art Closet is a program that awards art supplies to Louisiana art teachers whose funding does not otherwise allow for the expense, often bringing arts into classrooms for the first time. Twenty to 25 kits are awarded each year and since 2009, the program has awarded over $200,000 in art supplies. The GRFA Print Donation Program helps fellow nonprofits raise money at their fundraising events through the use of Rodrigue prints for silent auctions, raffles and more. Since 2010, the foundation has helped nonprofits raise a total of over $3 million. GRFA has also recently partnered with Tulane Lakeside Hospital’s Arts in Medicine program and the YMCA’s Brushes, Buddies and Beyond for Autism program to provide art supplies and sponsor art events for patients and their families. / 93

PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Ace and the Louisiana Open Housing Act, which make it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. For more information, call the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-273-5718.

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From The Lens ON T HE J OB

Domino Sugar photo by jeffery johnston

Over 2 billion pounds of sugar

cane is manufactured each year by ASR Group at the Domino Sugar Chalmette Refinery in Arabi, Louisiana — the second-largest cane sugar refinery in the world. Opened in 1909, the over 1.5 million-square-foot facility currently employs more than 400 people. A clamshell bucket is seen here dropping 10,000 pounds of raw sugar into a hopper. It will then be taken by conveyor to be weighed and stored briefly before being refined and then packaged or shipped in bulk. Seventy percent of the cane sugar refined and packaged in Domino’s Chalmette refinery is grown in Louisiana. n

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