Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If you build it, they will eat there...

Restaurant expansion in Louisiana tops in country
Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto gives media sneak peek
of the mult-million dollar Restaurant R'evolution located
in the Royal Sonesta and opens June 4.
With a 6:15 a.m. call time, Louisiana Restaurant Association VP of Communications Wendy Waren was sitting in the amazing new Market Room at Restaurant R’evolution in the Royal Sonesta with WWL News Reporter Bill Capo. Prior to the live interview, the two sat down to dish about the latest venture of renowned Louisiana Chef John Folse and the notable Chicago Chef Rick Tramonto. The multi-million dollar renovation will employ more than 90 individuals and is scheduled to open to the public June 4.

In particular, Capo was interested in the growth of Louisiana’s restaurant industry despite some of the more challenging situations we have been faced with, uncommon to other competing cities.

“After facing some significant obstacles, New Orleans has rebounded extremely well,” said Waren. “It’s a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within the restaurant industry and the fact that making people happy is at the core of the business.”

It’s been nearly seven years since Hurricane Katrina hit the region and two years since the BP oil spill and it’s clear that New Orleans is on the upswing, attracting visitors worldwide to experience the joie de vivre, cuisine, music and a culture unlike any other American city. National sporting events and the upcoming Super Bowl in 2013 will continue to shine a spotlight on the city, which will celebrate its Tri-Centennial in 2018. 

The even better news is that with the increasing influx of visitors and new residences to the city, the number of new positions are projected to top 33,000 in the hospitality industry—restaurants, hotels and attractions—in the next six years.

The LRA’s Communications Department recently assisted Daniel P. Smith, a journalist with online magazine Restaurant Management. His topic was top states for full-service restaurant growth and to no one’s surprise, Louisiana made the top 10. We were happy to oblige.

Why wasn’t this more of a shock, you ask? Well, we have been getting countless phone calls, e-mails and media requests throughout the past year asking us to comment on why so many new restaurants are opening up throughout the state.
Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO
knows the restaurant business
inside and out sees Louisiana
as a hot-bed of economic
viability for new and existing
"The state's favorable operating costs and abundant supply of fresh seafood and other local products heighten Louisiana's culinary distinctiveness, making it attractive to both in-state and out-of-state restaurateurs," said Stan Harris, President and CEO of the LRA.

Our answer is always this: Louisiana is fortunate to have a robust economy; one that did not suffer quite the ill effects the recession had on other states. In fact, from November-December 2008, in the height of the recession, Louisiana was the only state to add nonfarm jobs. The state also enjoys a consistently low unemployment rate. When restaurants commit to investing in the state, whether it is an independently owned bistro or a national chain, they trust that there is a consumer base available with disposable income to spend on food. Now doesn’t that sound like us?

What are some other things restaurants look for before expanding in an area? According to Smith’s article, “Top States for Full-Service Restaurant Growth,” they look for states that welcome new businesses.

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