OUT TO LUNCH finds economist and Tulane finance professor Peter Ricchiuti conducting business New Orleans style: over lunch at Commander's Palace restaurant. Each week Peter invites guests from the New Orleans business renaissance to join him. The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Inc magazine have all named New Orleans the best city in the USA to be an entrepreneur. Out to Lunch is the cafeteria of the new New Orleans entrepreneurial movement. You can also hear the show on WWNO 89.9FM.
Photo by Rick Lineberger
When we talk about “the New Orleans business community” we generally have a mental picture of the CBD. We might include spokes that poke out from that center a few miles – the Marigny, Mid-City, and Uptown. If we’re particularly expansive we might even talk about “the metro area” as a way to include Metairie and the North Shore.
On this edition of Out to Lunch we’re pushing the business boundary out a little further. Both West and South. You’re going to be surprised about what we discover and who we meet.
Heading west along the I-10 from New Orleans, just past the airport, you can turn off to Luling. It’s near Boutte and Paradis. Most of the folks out this way are connected in some way to what they call “the plants.” They’re not talking about nature. In fact, quite the opposite - they’re talking about oil and chemical refineries.
Kimberley Lipari lives in Luling. But she doesn’t work at the plant.
Kimberly is Chief of Operations for a company called Valet. Valet has employees across the country, from Florida to Washington State, and in India. Valet’s clients are also nationwide. So what does Valet do, exactly? They manage websites. You could think of them as the difference between General Motors and your auto mechanic. Valet doesn’t build websites, it keeps them running.
Next we’re heading south. To Galliano.
Although the name “Galliano” is quite exotic, the place itself is not nearly as glamorous as its most flamboyant resident – by far – Kookie Baker.
Kookie Baker is the proprietor of Kookie Baker’s Drag Emporium. The emporium is an online marketplace for drag queens that features makeup, lashes, wigs, rhinestones, and more. In a parallel existence, Kookie is also a trained chef and co-owner of a catering and bakery company, called Chicken Scratch. Kookie, on occasions, combines her two worlds to deliver a unique catering experience she calls “Meals on Heels.”
In another strange twist of fate, Commander's Palace closed for their annual picnic on the day Out to Lunch was scheduled for this show so the whole operation moved Uptown to the new location of Juan's Flying Burrito, on Joseph Street next to Whole Foods.
Photos by Alison Moon.