Chef Pat Gallagher and Hotel Owner Lisa Condrey Ward partake in a discussion about the current state of the hospitality industry on the Northshore with "It's New Orleans Out to Lunch" host Peter Ricchiuti.
The podcast is recorded and broadcasted live from The NOLA Pizza Room at NOLA Brewing Company. Ricchiuti is a Senior Professor of Practice at Tulane University's Freeman School of Business.
This episode, the host chats with Chef Gallagher and Condrey Ward on topics including the short, but vast difference between the Northshore and the Southshore and how it isn't so different in the grand scheme of things. Also hot current topics like restaurant profit margins, supply chain issues, menu costs and catering to the current diner's appetite.
Chef Pat Gallagher is known statewide for his first restaurant The Winners Circle, which opened in Folsom, La in 1978. People from all over, especially the Southshore, would make the drive to dine on his culinary creations each weekend. Today, he owns four restaurants under his restaurant group, The Gallagher Restaurant Group.
Pat's Rest Awhile, Gallagher's on Front Street, Pat Gallagher's 527 Restaurant & Bar and Gallagher's Grill are all popular restaurants in the Northshore community. The Covington native has heavily invested in his community, and it has paid off, but it is never easy.
"During these times, that razor thin margin that you're talking about has gotten tighter than it was before," said Chef Pat Gallagher. "Because of cost of goods."
Chef Gallagher says they only recently raised prices on their menus, and customers have not complained. They understand it has to be done, and diners enjoy temporarily escaping their home life. With the rising cost of groceries, many patrons are eating out more to avoid waste, and time in the store.
Owner of the Southern Hotel in Covington is Lisa Condrey Ward. She and her husband bought the historic building with other family members, in 2011, after it sat vacant and depreciated since 1983. As a lawyer and preservationist, Condrey Ward put the hotel through a much needed $8 million renovation and opened it in 2014 with 40 guest rooms.
"When we stared, I anticipated our market was basically a 3-hour driving range, and that's probably predominantly true," said Condrey Ward. "One big surprise we had is the depth of business here on the Northshore, and the diversity of business was much greater than I thought. Some of the very first guests at the hotel, within the first week were from Europe."