Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 22

LRA President and CEO Stan Harris discusses the National Restaurant Association’s recent letter to Congress that recapped the recent COVID-19 impact survey. For months, Congress has been trapped in a political tug-of-war while restaurants continue to go dark. A group of moderate Democrats and Republicans last week unveiled a compromise plan that has brought both parties back to the negotiating table. They are calling for a $909 billion relief bill, including a second round of Paycheck Protection Program grants, which with improvements could provide immediate assistance to restaurants. We need Congress to pass our Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, but we also need to ensure that Congress at least makes a “down payment” on a relief plan before leaving town for the year. Our industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer. Efforts in Washington to find the “perfect” solution are laudable, but the lack of progress in the meantime has led too many operators to give up on the government and close down for good. We are pressing for an all-of-the-above approach from lawmakers – nothing should be off the table.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 21

In this episode, Stan Harris and Wendy Waren dish about the status of a next federal COVID-relief package, the Governor’s announcement that Louisiana will move to Phase 3 on Sept. 11; National Food Safety Month, the ServSafe Dining Commitment and the accompanying national advertising campaign to rebuild consumer confidence. Mayor of Lake Charles Nic Hunter gives an update on the progress (2 weeks post-Hurricane Laura) and tells you how you can help the recovery.  

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 20

During this episode, you’ll get an update on recovery efforts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Laura, and we chat with LRA Past Chair Rob King of Pitt Grills who reopened his restaurant this week using a generator and bottled water. We also talk to LCMC Health CEO Greg Feirn, who shares the news about Operation Bon Appetit, designed to reward their employees and support the restaurant industry.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 19

Hear from the National Restaurant Association’s Sean Kennedy on what’s transpired in the last 48 hours in D.C., what’s happening in the House this weekend and the Senate’s proposed “skinny” relief bill; LRA Member Brad Watts testimony before the Louisiana Economic Recovery Taskforce; and from LRA Hall of Famer Chef John Folse on how he’s handled the pandemic and what’s next for his restaurant, venue and food manufacturing company. He cannot predict the future, but he’s determined to stay positive no matter the outcome.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 18

In Episode 18, State Treasurer John Schroder joins host Wendy Waren to bust myths on who is eligible for the Louisiana Main Street Recovery Grant Program and what expenses are reimbursable. And just in, Governor Edwards gives an update from his August 13 (today) press conference on unemployment compensation.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 17

In Episode 17, we hear from Ernest Legier, the newly appointed Commissioner of the Alcohol Tobacco Control with details of the Conditional Restaurant Permit process. Award Winning Chef Frank Brigtsen reports on week one of reopening his small fine dining restaurant given the spacing challenges to meet social distancing requirements for kitchen staff. He’s also a culinary professor and started teaching in person at John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University; and virtually at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) this week.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 16

LRA President/CEO Stan Harris joins us with an update on where things stand in Louisiana and what restaurants need to do right now to avoid closures and reduce staff exposure to COVID. Sean Kennedy, EVP for Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association brings us a report from D.C., where negotiations have stalled between Republicans and Democrats. Take action now and visit to send a pre-written letter to your Congressperson.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 15

National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy joined the podcast to explain the importance of the restaurant industry standing on a united front to get the attention our industry needs from policymakers. Right now, our short term focus is survival and our long term focus is revival. Listen in now.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 14

Stan Harris and Wendy Waren are back in the office today talking about the National Restaurant Association’s Blueprint for Restaurant Revival plan. Stan also reminds us to practice “COVID Courtesy” and abide by Governor John Bel Edwards’ state wide mask mandate. Stay tuned to hear a little clip of Stan on the Governor’s talk show from July 15. Finally, the LRA Vice President of Membership Pam St. Pierre gives us an update on some exciting ServSafe® news– ServSafe® Foodservice Manager is now offered ONLINE! Purchase the online bundle for $134 through July 31st.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 13

On Episode 13, Stan briefs us on legislative special sessions, the Main Street Recovery program, and the extended PPP program. Wendy urges members to complete the NRA Survey #4 (take the survey here) to assure the needs of the entire restaurant industry are met. The Acadiana Chapter President Randy Daniel ends the podcast by telling us his own personal story of an employee testing positive for COVID-19 and the measures he took to protect his restaurant and other employees.

If you have a “best practice” or a more efficient way to ensure patrons are doing their part hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing, please send any and all suggestions to! We would love to hear from you.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 12

LRA President and CEO Stan Harris starts off this episode with a bang, “It would appear we are done with the virus, but it is very clear the virus is not done with us.” Phase 2 may be extended until July 28, but officials will be reviewing and analyzing the data every 7 days, and there may be a possibility we could move forward to Phase 3 if the data permits. Stan urges us all continue to practice common sense and compliance. Finishing off this week’s podcast, State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, Jr. hopped on to explain what exactly his role is in the COVID Crisis.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 11

Our hosts Stan Harris and Wendy Waren are back for Episode 11! Stan agrees that though its disappointing we did not move forward to Phase 3, it was expected due to the rise of cases across the country. He also reminds all of our listeners to mask up and practice proper handwashing before you enter a restaurant. No matter how impatient we are, we need to keep up these practices in Phase 2 to keep our restaurants open. “We don’t want to mistake activity for progress,” he said. Ken Veron of Cafe Vermilionville in Lafayette hopped on the call to tell us a little about Eat Lafayette, a summer-long culinary celebration that takes place from June through September. Locals and visitors alike are invited to manger at over 200 locations of the area’s well known and not so well known locally owned eateries to celebrate Lafayette as one of the tastiest towns of the South. Visit for more details. Stan ends the call by sharing an exciting announcement: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser asked the LRA and the Louisiana Seafood Board to work together on a media promotion to get people back in our restaurants, eating authentic Louisiana seafood!

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 10

In Episode 10, we hear from LRA members Michael Boudreaux, partner of four separate concepts in Baton Rouge; Donald Spahr, of Malt & Burger and Spahr’s Seafood down the Bayou; and Cory Bahr of Parish Restaurant in Louisiana’s Delta–Monroe. This episode features optimism, reflection and gratitude for the communities that have supported their restaurants and for the LRA.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 9

We’re back with another podcast! Stan Harris opens up recapping this year’s legislative session and tells us a bit more about Phase 2 guidance. We then hear from Jordan Fladell of mLevel to talk about our newest collaborative initiative, THRIVE Louisiana. Lastly, General Manager Christian Pendelton of Brennan’s Restaurant jumps on the call to explain the challenges his restaurant is facing upon the recent opening.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 8

The LRA’s Conversations in the COVID Crisis is back with Stan Harris and Wendy Waren dishing about several pieces of legislation to benefit restaurants. You’ll want to hear this lineup of bills working their way through the session; you’ll hear Melvin Rodrigue’s comments to President Trump and Treasury Sec. Mnunchin recorded live from the White House; Alex Fein of Court of Two Sisters shares his Phase 1, weekend 1 experience with 25% capacity; and Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser urges us to travel within our state’s borders to support hotels and restaurants.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 7

In this week’s episode, the legislature went back to session on May 4. Listen in to hear a recorded Facebook Live interview from LRA President & CEO Stan Harris, Senator Sharon Hewitt, Senator Patrick McMath and Representative Blake Miguez as they discuss the dire situation our industry is in right now and an important piece of legislation making its way through the process that will help us when it’s time to reopen. Following that, you will hear from Tommy Cvitanovich talk about the new outdoor seating rule and how that’s going for his Drago’s locations. Member Jeff Mattia of Pyre Provisions calls in to explain what is happening over on the Northshore, and we close out with GBR Chapter President Lisa Boudreaux of the Gilded Artichoke and what she misses the most during the COVID Crisis.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 6

This week, our host Stan Harris guest starred on an interview with Jeff Palermo of The Louisiana Radio Network. Don Pearson, Secretary of Louisiana’s economic development, finally delivers some positive news on how Louisianians are heading in the right direction. Robert Peyton, co-founder of Chef’s Brigade – NOLA (a program designed to feed first responders during a crises situation, utilizing multiple brigades of restaurants, chefs and purveyors, discusses the efforts and successes thus far. In fact, they’re now supporting 5 brigades of restaurants, serving hundreds of meals a day.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 5

In today’s episode, special guests Chef Tory McPhail of the New Orleans famous Commander’s Palace, Randy Daniel of OMW Restaurant Holdings in Lafayette, and the LRA’s own VP of Membership Pam St. Pierre will join hosts Stan Harris, LRA President & CEO and Wendy Waren, VP of Communications.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 4

We open episode 4 “The Lost Month” with an interview between Stan Harris and Newell Normal of WWL radio who discuss the state of industry as we assess impacts nearly a month later from the state mandated stay at home order. Then we’ll hear from the front lines of franchising: what franchisors, franchisees, and multi-unit operators are doing to keep their businesses and their people afloat. Guests include Scott Taylor, President and COO of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, Paul Huston of Taste Buds Management and Greg Hamer of B&G Food Enterprises.

Conversations in the COVID Crisis- Episode 3

In today’s episode, hosts Stan Harris, LRA President & CEO and Wendy Waren, VP of Comm, will speak with Emery Whalen, CEO and founder of QED Hospitality, Jason Jones, Regional Sales Manager for Sysco New Orleans, and Sal Bivalacqua, owner and founder of Seven Three Distilling about phases of legislation, a new business loan program, and how their businesses have pivoted through times of crisis.