Greater New Orleans’ citizens are arguably the most flexible people in the country. We take turns with our fellow drivers on narrow cobblestone streets, we know the secret route to get to our house during parade season, and boil water advisories keep us on our toes. These are just a few quirks that make us curious to outsiders and unite us as New Orleanians.
Another reason for us to band together is coming to a road near you! We will be facing drainage system improvements and road construction for the next five years. Funds from FEMA as well as our Department of Public Works have been designated and projects have been mapped through 2019 and we need to stay flexible (as we do) in the name of long-term infrastructure improvements!
Along with those experiencing personal inconveniences and dissatisfactions, our local businesses on these routes are taking a hard economic hit. New Orleans’ businesses need to feel our support and the impact of local dollars now at this critical time of business disruption because they are the backbone of our city’s culture, economy and character.
The Shopkeeper Stories series shares the vision and personality of New Orleans business owners. We hope you are inspired and continue to shop small and shop local – even if it takes a little extra time!
Shopkeeper: Tom Cianfichi
Hazelnut New Orleans
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
My partner and husband, Bryan Batt, and I had always wanted to do something like this and the stars aligned at the right time to make it happen. We were living in New York, I was working retail, he was working as an actor and something fell through for him – something fell through for me and we said, “Let’s do it now!” We love New Orleans and Bryan’s local.
What makes New Orleans businesses so special?
New Orleans is a city that loves itself – the people are in love with it! It’s fun to do something that’s New Orleans themed because everyone gets passionate about it. If you meet someone not from here and you tell them “I have a business in New Orleans” or “I’m from New Orleans” it’s rare that you don’t hear, “I’ve always wanted to go there” or “that’s my favorite place!”
Who are your customers?
We have a lot of loyal local customers as well as tourists who show up with newspaper snippets from The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal saying “I’ve been holding onto this for three years waiting to visit New Orleans and Hazelnut!” It’s fun being out there – I liken it to being a bartender in a way – you stand there, wrap a package, and hear their story!
If your shop was a cocktail, what would it be?
Definitely something with Bourbon!
Describe your business in a few words.
Up the ante!
What’s your favorite local biz on Magazine Street?
Scriptura – I look up to them as far as their business decisions and they have a beautiful aesthetic – it’s a lovely local store.
Will you share your secret lunch or dinner spot?
My newest one is Cowbell on Oak! Everything is great! Their specials are modern and new. They’ve reinvented old standards.
What advice would you give a budding business owner?
Take the risk! When they say to you, “No, it’s always been done this way.” Go to the next person until you hear, “Ok, we’ll try it your way.”
The Shopkeeper Stories are brought to you by StayLocal, the Greater New Orleans independent business alliance, in partnership with Uptown Messenger. This new series runs every first and third Tuesday of the month. StayLocal is devoted to raising the visibility and viability of locally-owned businesses across New Orleans through marketing, advocacy, and education. Learn about their work or become a member at www.staylocal.org or email email@example.com.