Food is such an important part of our culture in south Louisiana and there’s no shortage of entrepreneurs who try their hand at launching a food-related business. But just because you can make magic in the kitchen, doesn’t mean you can run a successful restaurant, catering operation, or packaged food company. In fact, 80% of restaurants don’t make it five years. What makes it so tough, and how do some people managed to pull it off?
Stephanie’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Baton Rouge have a bunch of first hand experience to share.
Jarvis Green is owner of Oceans 97 Seafood, a Baton Rouge-based seafood company that specializes in selling shrimp from the waters of Jarvis’ native Louisiana. Jarvis got his start in the shrimp business in 2010 shortly after retiring from the NFL. That’s right, we’re talking about NFL two-time Superbowl Champion Jarvis Green, who played as a defensive lineman for the New England Patriots. When Jarvis was at the height of his career in the NFL he never dreamed that a decade later he’d be a purveyor of seafood. But then, there have been lots of twists and turns and unexpected surprises in Jarvis’ career journey.
Stephen Hightower is managing partner of City Group Hospitality, a rapidly growing company that operates several restaurants and food service businesses in Baton Rouge, including City Pork Brasserie and Bar, City Pork Catering, two City Pork restaurants on the LSU campus, City Slice Pints and Pizza, Beausoleil, and Turning Point Food Services, which, among other things, provides catering services to local schools.
Stephen also has a new Mid City restaurant on the way – The spoke and Hub – that will open later this year on Government Street. Stephen has worked his way up the ladder of the local restaurant business. He started out as manager of Ruth’s Chris in the 1990s and bounced around to several establishments, opening a couple of failed ventures along the way but in 2013 he hit upon the extremely successful City Pork concept and it’s been a relatively straight trajectory since then.
This might sound like it’s going to be a conversation about pork and shrimp, but that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the unique stories that lead both of these entrepreneurs into the businesses they’re in today.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. Here’s more conversation about the Baton Rouge food business.