Out To Lunch
Thursdays at 1pm; Sundays at 5pm
Out to Lunch finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her.
Find episodes of Out to Lunch here.
The lemonade stand has become a sort of iconic institution in the American narrative: the kid on the side of the road peddling lemonade from a pitcher. A way to make a little extra change and stave of summer boredom while also picking up a thing or two about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. But the lemonade stand can be so much more. Not only a teaching tool but a way to help young people with disabilities learn entrepreneurship. Case in point: Sherilyn Hayward's business, Leroy's Lip Smack'n Lemonade. Sherilyn is co-owner of this local Baton Rouge lemonade biz, Leroy’s Lip Smack’n Lemonade, an enterprise she and her husband Dan started with their son Leroy in 2012, when Leroy was just 6 years old and participating in Lemonade Day Louisiana, a nationwide annual event that teaches children how to be entrepreneurs. From that simple beginning the one-day lemonade stand expanded to festivals and pop-up locations, eventually growing into a full blown business. Today, Leroy’s Lip Smack Lemonade is sold in 40 grocery stores around Baton Rouge and beyond, as well as in Tiger Stadium. But business success is not what makes this enterprise so unique. Rather it’s that Leroy is a special needs kid, and the real mission of the business is not just profit. It's also to teach Leroy and other kids with what we think of as life-limiting -challenges that there are, in reality, no limits in life except the ones you put on yourself. Leroy's Lip Smack'n Lemonade employs Leroy and other young people with disabilities. The company is also helping Children’s Hospital, donating a portion of proceeds from every sale it makes to the institution Kevin Whalen is the owner of Rally Cap Brewing Company, a Baton Rouge based micro brewery he founded in 2017, with friend and business partner Jeremy Brown. In the years since, the business has grown to include a baseball-themed tap room, which opened in 2019 and features several different brews that vary by season, all brewed right here at its brewing facility in the Industriplex area. Kevin Whalen is a self-taught brew-master. He's had a passion for brewing for more than a decade and teamed up with Jeremy Brown when they met in business school at Duke University and decided that seeing they both wanted to own their own business they'd join forces. Along the way, Kevin has had a varied and interesting career – has worked for the Montreal Expos, as well as minor league clubs, been Assistant Athletic Director at Lamar University in Texas, and served as vice president of casino operations at L’Auberge Casino. In the heat of a South Louisiana Summer, there's very little that's more refreshing than a cold beer or lemonade. And if you're in Baton Rouge that refreshment is made even better knowing your cooling libation is made from fresh ingredients not more than a handful of miles from where you're drinking it. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Louisiana continues to rank behind almost every other state in the country in terms of its educational outcomes across the board – from Pre-K through post secondary. But buried under those bad stats, are some bright spots – success stories of programs and schools that are finding ways to prepare students and train them for the jobs of the future. On this episode of Out to Lunch, meet two of the leading lights of the Baton Rouge education system. Tina Holland is President and CEO of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, better known as Fran U. Tina came to Fran U in 2014 from Notre Dame, Indiana, where she had served as Executive Vice President and Provost of Holy Cross College. In the years since, she has overseen an aggressive and successful expansion of Fran U. Fran U started out nearly a century ago as Our Lady of the Lake, a nursing school. Today it is a fully accredited university with new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that Tina has created. Tina is overseeing the development of Fran U’s first freestanding building which will give the university a new level of autonomy. Tina is a native of Los Angeles and a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps., who brings an extraordinary knowledge and skillset to a position that requires navigating the turbulent waters of not only higher ed and Catholic Church but local politics as well. Christine Merchant is World Language Coordinator with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. If you're thinking, "I didn't know East Baton Rouge Schools had a world language coordinator," you're not alone but you might be surprised to learn that not only is the school system's immersive language program highly successful, but also that Christine has been running it for 42 years! In fact, Christine is the first and only person to hold this position. The most visible flagship of the East Baton Rouge School System's foreign language track is FLAIM, or more formally, the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet, but world languages are offered at a large number of EBR public schools. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We often lump "tourism and hospitality" together because they seem to go together, but like other conjunctive categories like "sales and marketing" or "chicken and waffles," "tourism and hospitality" is a vast umbrella under which there are a plethora of specialties. within these sub-groups, entrepreneurs have created businesses providing services in a multitude of innovative ways. Take, for example, Patrick Healey. Patrick is owner of Premium Tours and Transportation, which, among other excursions, has a bus ride called Baton Rouge Blitz. Baton Rouge Blitz is a direct luxury bus service that runs from New Orleans to Tiger Stadium on LSU Tigers game days. The company’s executive coaches depart from downtown New Orleans hotels and arrives at the game in plenty of time to allow for tailgating, then returns patrons later that night. Patrick founded Premium Tours in 2015 and besides the football fan bus also runs other unique outings including a tour of local breweries and "Gators and Guns," a tour that takes customers to a shooting range to shoot machine guns then brings them on a swamp tour. Patrick originally moved to Louisiana from his native southern California in 2007 to help with the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina and has apparently totally adapted to the Southeast lifestyle! Tremaine Devine is better known as Chef Tre, the owner of Tres’ Street Kitchen, which provides high-end gourmet meals cooked in your home, catering, and a food truck. Chef Tre grew up on the south side of Chicago and had to overcome a lot of the challenges facing many kinds in the inner city. But he found his passion in the culinary arts, which he originally learned from his grandparents and would go on to study, formally, at the Louisiana Culinary Institute. Today, Chef Tre wants to give back and dedicate his life to building a legacy for his family, which is the north star behind Tres Street Kitchen. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.laSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Anyone who’s been around Baton Rouge for a while has noticed the amazing transformation of its downtown over the past 30 years. it's a transformation that has come in large part from the planning and leadership of the Downtown Development District. In that time, the capital city has also seen growth and transformation in its hospitality and tourism sector, which is largely, though not exclusively, concentrated downtown. In recent months, the organization that oversees the tourism and hospitality sector – Visit Baton Rouge – and the DDD have both come under new leadership by a new generation of women, who are bringing new ideas and creative vision for growing and reimagining Baton Rouge’s downtown and its tourism industry. Whitney Hoffman Sayal is Executive director of the Downtown Development District, a special taxing district in baton rouge that includes Spanish Town, Beauregard Town, and the Central Business District. The DDD was created in 1987 and works to support the district, using community-driven master plans and economic incentives to help businesses and nonprofit philanthropic organizations in their development and entrepreneurship efforts. Whitney had big shoes to fill when she took over in 2022 after a national search to replace the late Davis Rhorer its founding executive director. But then, she was a natural, having worked at the DDD under Davis for eight years. Whitney is a certified planner with a master’s in landscape architecture from the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. Jill Kidder is President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, the official tourism and marketing agency for the city-parish. Jill is also a newcomer to this high-profile position; she took over from long-time leader Paul Arrigo in 2022. But Jill is no stranger to the industry. She has 37 years experience in the hospitality sector and has lobbied for the industry at the state capitol and in Washington DC. She comes to her new position after 15 years with the Louisiana Travel Association, where she spent the past five as its president and CEO. Women in leadership positions, guiding a major American city with a storied history into a multi-cultural and multi-revenue future. Believe it or not, yes, it's Baton Rouge! Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts and Stephanie Lee at itsbatonrouge.laSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Entrepreneurs frequently explain how they came up with a business idea to solve some sort of problem they personally experienced. This "necessity is the mother of invention" incentive is also true in the world of non-profits and purpose-driven businesses more concerned about making a difference than making a profit. Often it is during the worst of times - crises, hardships, or conflagrations and controversies - that people see opportunities to help those most in need. Or, on a grander scale, to dismantle systems of oppression and come together in new ways to make things better. Take, for example, Casey Phillips of The Walls Project. We've talked about The walls Project previously on Out to Lunch. In this conversation, Casey expounds on a specific initiative that has the potential to address Baton Rouge’s systemic problems in new ways. It’s called OneRouge, a partnership between The Walls Project, which works to break down the societal walls in our community, and MetroMorphosis, Reverend Raymond Jetson’s nonprofit organization that seeks to transform urban communities from within. The OneRouge Coalition was created in 2021 and has brought together 400 organizations in the community to address the economic and social disparities in Baton Rouge through a systematic framework that has identified the nine drivers of poverty and created coalitions to tackle each one by breaking down its component parts and working together – what’s known in the nonprofit world as collective impact -- to address it. Casey is a music industry entrepreneur who spent more than a decade away from Baton Rouge, before moving back in 2011 to found The Walls Project. Amber Elworth is owner of Light House Coffee, a coffee shop with the unique mission of supporting migrants by providing them with opportunities for employment, a space to sell handcrafted items they have made and just a safe space where they are welcomed and included. Amber and her husband founded the shop in 2017. At the time, Amber was working at Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge as a social worker in its immigration and refugee services division. She got to know a lot of the migrants coming into the community and recognized the need for a place like Light House. Today, the coffee shop has grown in popularity, expanded its menu to lunch and dinner, and secured a liquor license to serve beer and wine. As a middle class average working person, it's easy to live in Baton Rouge and think that our most urgent problem is traffic. It's more difficult to be aware of the issues that trouble the people in the cars and buses clogging our city streets or living alongside them. It's encouraging to learn from Casey Williams and Amber Elworth all that they're doing to improve Baton Rouge for all of us. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.laSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.