Working with the LRA Advocacy Team on multiple initiatives has given Jeff Gulotta a crash course in what it means to advocate for your business and the industry at large. We interviewed Gulotta for the Spring issue of A La Carte and ICYMI, we want to share his story with you here.
Jeff Gulotta and his younger brother, Michael, have an arrangement decades in the making and is playing out daily with Asian-inspired cuisine at MoPho in New Orleans’ Mid City neighborhood and internationally infl uenced dishes at Maypop in the South Market District.
Their paths converged professionally after Hurricane Katrina, when Jeff went to work in management at an emerging restaurant group where Michael was a chef. The company where Jeff had moved up from wine director, head of the beverage department and then assistant general manager wasn’t reopening in the city.
In this post Katrina era, Jeff continued his journey in restaurant management, while Michael was honing his culinary acumen. Each with complementary skills and a growing business knowledge, the two began to contemplate a restaurant of their own. They really loved Vietnamese Pho and Bahn Mi, but at the time, getting that type of cuisine outside of New Orleans East and the West Bank was unheard of. In 2014, the two opened MoPho where they now bring Vietnamese and Louisiana cuisine together in what was once Delgado Community College’s Chimes book store. Two years later, they doubled down and opened Maypop—a Southeast Asian-inspired eatery in an up-and-coming downtown district formerly made up of parking lots used for Saints tailgating.
Gulotta’s learned firsthand the challenges of restaurant ownership and the importance of advocating on behalf of the family business. “The LRA was an important resource for me when we started the business and certainly since then,” he said. “From helping connect us with the City’s Special Projects division regarding a massive construction project around MoPho to giving me the opportunity to meet with U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to share my concerns about health care, immigration and tax reform, they’ve really shown me how to be an advocate for myself and our industry.”