The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) and its chair, Paul Rotner, Chief Executive Officer of Acme Management Group in New Orleans, are pleased to announce this year’s Restaurateur of the Year, Associate Member of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Hall of Fame Inductee. The honorees were recognized at its Board of Directors meeting at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.
The LRA named Robért LeBlanc, Creative Director and Chief Executive Officer of LeBlanc & Smith, a boutique hospitality group which includes Meauxbar, Sylvain, Cavan, Barrel Proof and Longway Tavern, as its 2019 Restaurateur of the Year. LeBlanc is heavily involved with the LRA and served as keynote speaker at this year’s LRA Education Foundation’s ProStart Invitational, inspiring area high schoolers to pursue their dreams of a career in the culinary arts.
The 2019 Associate Member of the Year is Perry Eastman, IV, third-generation owner and Chief Executive Officer of Auto-Chlor System, which provides cleaning and sanitation solutions to the foodservice industry. The Eastman family is well-recognized in the industry, with their roots dating back to 1949 when Eastman’s grandfather, George Eastman started the company. Eastman has been involved on a full-time basis with the company since 1996. Employing 390 team members, Auto-Chlor is known for the quality of its employees and makes the investment in both time and dollars to ensure it maintains the best workforce.
The 2019 Advocate of Year is The Honorable Thomas Carmody, Jr., Louisiana State Representative for District 6, with over 12 years’ experience in the legislature. The Advocate of the Year recognizes an individual who has supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. Through his position as Chair for the Louisiana Retail Food and Beverage E-commerce Task Force, he authored HB 349 which authorizes third-party delivery companies to include alcoholic beverages with food orders. Rep. Carmody recognizes the importance of Louisiana keeping abreast of technology advancements with regards to the future of the foodservice industry.
The 2019 Hall of Fame Inductee is Melvin Rodrigue of Galatoire’s in New Orleans. Made up of experienced and exceedingly deserving food and beverage leaders, the LRA Hall of Fame is a way to recognize those who have exhibited extraordinary dedication to the restaurant industry. Rodrigue has had a distinguished career in the foodservice industry, most notably from his role as President/CEO of Galatoire’s. However, his reach extends far beyond the French Quarter staple. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, serves as President of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and will soon serve as the 2020 Chair of the National Restaurant Association.
“What makes Louisiana restaurants unique far exceeds our cuisine,” said Paul Rotner, 2019 LRA Chair. “It’s individuals like these who truly exemplify servant leadership and philanthropy and elevate the professionalism and importance of the restaurant industry.”