100 episodes

OUT TO LUNCH finds economist and Tulane finance professor Peter Ricchiuti conducting business New Orleans style: over lunch at Commander’s Palace restaurant. In his 9th year in the host seat, Ricchiuti’s learned but uniquely NOLA informal perspective has established Out to Lunch as the voice of Crescent City business. You can also hear the show on WWNO 89.9FM.

It's New Orleans: Out to Lunch itsneworleans.com

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    • 4.8 • 21 Ratings

OUT TO LUNCH finds economist and Tulane finance professor Peter Ricchiuti conducting business New Orleans style: over lunch at Commander’s Palace restaurant. In his 9th year in the host seat, Ricchiuti’s learned but uniquely NOLA informal perspective has established Out to Lunch as the voice of Crescent City business. You can also hear the show on WWNO 89.9FM.

    From New Orleans to Mars

    From New Orleans to Mars

    Sometimes living in New Orleans can make you want to tear your hair out.

    You can barely drive around the city for more than 10 minutes without hitting at least one suspension-threatening pothole. It only has to rain hard for 30 minutes and streets are flooding. At least once a year we’re hit with a “Boil Water Advisory.” And the power goes out with alarming frequency because our electrical grid is apparently in a constant state of precariousness.

    If your observations of our engineering abilities stopped there, you’d be justified in concluding we’re a bunch of inept losers. But, if you look just a little harder, and a little further east, you’re going to get a different impression. A very different impression.

    Heading east on the I-10, after you pass the remnants of another piece of failed engineering, the long-abandoned Six Flags theme park, you pass an innocuous looking highway sign that says “NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.” If you took that exit, you’d find yourself at one of the largest manufacturing plants on Earth. There are over 43 acres of manufacturing space under one roof. You’ll find 3,200 people working there. 1,200 of these people are directly involved in building a rocket.

    That rocket is called the Space Launch System. It’s a part of a NASA program, called Artemis. When it’s finished, this will be the most powerful rocket ever built. It’s going to take astronauts to Mars. We can’t fix the streets or keep the power on in New Orleans, but we can build a rocket to take astronauts to Mars.

    The current Director of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility is Lonnie Dutreix III. 

    If you raise your gaze off the potholed streets of New Orleans, you don’t have to look as high as deep space to see some other impressive engineering, and  architectural, achievements. For example, the new Higgins Hotel and Conference Center that’s part of the impressive World War 2 Museum. Or, the Carondelet Street hospitality corridor, including the Ace Hotel. And then there’s the St Vincent Hotel, and the 100,000 square foot co-working space at the CAC.

    All of these, and many other notable examples of new and renovated construction in New Orleans, are the projects of a construction company called Palmisano. Palmisano started out in construction in 1950, and it’s been in business continuously since.

    Oh, and by the way, when you drive on a smooth section of New Orleans roadway and say “Thank God they fixed this street,” that’s possibly the work of Palmisano’s civil engineering division.

    The Market Leader at Palmisano is Nick Moldaner. 

    It’s not unusual for people who live in small towns to believe they’re the center of the universe. You don’t have to go very far to find the self-described “Strawberry Capital of the World” - Ponchatoula. Or the even more quaintly delusional, “Rice Capital of the World” – Crowley Louisiana.

    In New Orleans, we don’t have a grandiose slogan to market ourselves with. If there’s anything like it, it’s “Laissez le bon temps roulez.” While it’s an attractive part of our DNA not to take ourselves too seriously, it’s also worthwhile celebrating the enormous achievements in business, engineering, and science in New Orleans.

    The folks at NASA Michoud in New Orleans East are taking us to another planet. And Palmisano is well into the third generation of building the city itself. It’s worth noting once in a while that we have more to be proud of in New Orleans than our food and music.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. For more lunchtime business and construction conversation, check out Wes Palmisano's visit to Out to Lunch. 

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    Real World Tech

    Real World Tech

    For the last 20 or so years we’ve been living through a technology revolution.

    When we talk about the pioneers behind this revolution, we usually refer to the creators of phones, software, e-commerce, or a combination of all three. For example, an app that summons a car to pick you up. Or an app that creates a playlist of your favorite music.

    Some of these tech advances are so integrated into our daily lives, we say we “couldn’t live without them.” In reality, though, we could. If Uber, Pandora, or even Amazon disappeared tomorrow, it might take a little adjustment, but our lives, for the most part, would go on just fine.

    But, there are advances in technology that have an extraordinary impact on the quality of life for people whose lives do, literally, depend on them. Here in New Orleans, since 2012, an organization called Team Gleason has delivered more than $15m worth of life-changing technology to 20,000 people living with ALS, a neuro-degenerative disorder, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    Inspired and guided by Saints football legend and ALS patient Steve Gleason, the technology that Team Gleason is most involved with is a sophisticated interface that allows someone with ALS who no longer has the ability of speech, or other motor functions, to use miniscule motions of their eyes to trigger a device that talks – in the person’s own voice – and performs other commands, like operating a motorized wheelchair, or changing channels on a TV.

    As you might imagine, this extraordinary technology is expensive. Team Gleason has been instrumental in every step of its production and implementation. They’ve gotten these high-tech devices funded, designed, and developed. And they’ve spearheaded the political lobbying that has resulted in this assistive equipment being covered by Medicare.

    Blair Casey is Team Gleason’s Chief Impact Officer. Among other responsibilities, Blair heads up the division of the organization that finds the people and the money to fund and build this technology.

    There’s another kind of real-world tech I want to tell you about. This one takes the Virtual Reality most of us associate with gaming, and turns it into a product with a profound  application. The product is called Stratus. It’s developed and built by a Virtual Reality company here in New Orleans, called Kinemagic.

    I’m far from an expert on any of this, but broadly, this kind of Virtual Reality is built by creating what’s called a “Digital Twin” – an exact, detailed digital re-creation of a 3D space, say, the room you’re in right now. If you think about writing computer code that represents every single tiny facet of that space, viewed from every imaginable angle, you can understand why this process takes an enormous amount of computing power, time, and human input.

    What Kinemagic’s product, Stratus, does, is create a Virtual Reality digital twin in a matter of minutes. And it’s done by one person. This is revolutionary. Which is why Stratus, which was only unveiled in 2019, is already being used by companies like Chevron, Shell, Exxon Mobil, and many others.

    The creator of Stratus and the CEO and founder of Kinemagic is Brian Lozes. 

    Most of us take our business, our career, or our job seriously. But, mostly, we manage to keep things in perspective by reminding ourselves that, at the end of the day it’s just a job. We’re not changing the course of human history.

    And then there are people like Blair Casey and Brian Lozes. The work they’re doing is allowing people with neuro-degenerative disease to regain the power of speech. And revolutionizing Virtual Reality. When they’re having a tough day, they don’t have the benefit of shrugging it off by telling themselves what they’re doing isn’t all that consequential, because, simply, it is.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our

    • 30 min
    That's Your Business

    That's Your Business

    When successful people talk about how they got to be in the position they’re in, a good number of them credit luck or circumstances. These folks typically mention a series of fortuitous events that conspired to push them in one direction or another.

    Then there are the other, more rare, stories. The ones where a person has a definite vision of what they want to accomplish. And the determination to make it happen. Some of the more notable among these laser-focused legends are the empires of Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton.

    Although they haven’t reached the same world-domination-status, yet, these kinds of dream-driven business biographies are also the stories of two local entrepreneurs.

    Amina Dearman had a successful career in sales. She was Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at jewelry design company, Mignon Faget. It was a great position and she’d spent a work-life building toward it.

    But in 2019 Amina walked away from security and success, to do what she really wanted. She started a company called Perspectives, a boutique travel consultancy. Evidently, it was a good move. A year later, in 2020, Amina was named by prestigious Travel + Leisure magazine as a member of “The A List of the World’s Top Travel Advisors.”

    When Beth Nettles had her first child, she quickly discovered that getting a ride with Uber or Lyft wasn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Not because she had a baby and a diaper bag to juggle – well, that too - but mainly because the Uber and Lyft cars didn’t have a baby seat. To solve this problem, Beth did something pretty radical. She started her own rideshare company.

    Krewe Car is the only ride-sharing car service that offers car seats for their customers. 

    There are a number of other differences between Uber, Lyft, and Krewe Car too. Krewe Car has fixed prices only – there’s no surge pricing. Krewe Car pays its drivers more than Uber and Lyft. Krewe Car has a membership model for customers. But perhaps the biggest difference, in a business sense, is this: in their startup years Uber and Lyft both lost billions of dollars. Krewe Car is already profitable.

    Sometimes you have to just go for it. You have to believe in yourself and do what you really want, no matter how crazy it might seem. If at any time you need to be reminded of the benefits that can come from following your dreams or, proverbially, jumping off a cliff, you don’t need to look any further than Amina Dearmon and Beth Nettles. Amina's and Beth's stories are inspirational. But they’re also grounded in smart business practices, and a lot of hard work.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over Lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation with local New Orleanians with world-beating ideas.


    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 29 min
    Can You Hear This?

    Can You Hear This?

    In a free-market economy, the role of government is often debated. On the one hand, business generally prefers to be left alone by government, interpreting the word “free” in free-market as free from regulation. On the other hand, there are any number of business organizations whose principal functions are to extract as many regulatory and tax advantages as possible for their particular industry. 

    In response to this lobbying, the Louisiana State government, like any good investor, does its best to diversify. The state has instituted economic development initiatives to attract and grow a wide range of businesses, from film to aerospace.

    You might remember a few years ago, starting with the re-development period after Hurricane Katrina, there was a big push to create what was called New Orleans’ Biomedical District. That economic development has, as of today, reportedly created 34,000 new jobs and had an economic impact of some $3.3 billion.

    The Biomedical District includes the Veterans Administration Hospital, the University Medical Center, the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. 

    The New Orleans BioInnovation Center provides office space, laboratories, business support, and even financial investment for biotech startups. They have a 66,000 square-foot building on Canal Street that opened in 2011, and cost $47m to build.

    This size investment in a “build it and they will come” strategy takes some serious financial and science skill to navigate. Similar state-funded bio innovation initiatives in Baton Rouge and Shreveport failed. To keep the New Orleans enterprise afloat, in 2021 Kris Khalil was named Executive Director of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.

    In one type of best-case scenario, the object of biomedical innovation is to come up with a medical device that becomes an everyday piece of equipment that sells in the millions. For example, the FitBit and Apple Watch have turned the decidedly un-sexy concept of a heart monitor into a fashion item.

    In the same way, eyeglasses are technically a medical device. But somehow, Warby Parker and others have turned assisted vision into what is now a fashion accessory. What’s next? Which otherwise pedestrian item that we use for medical-assisted-living could become hip and ubiquitous?

    With the growing number of people walking around with ear-buds blasting sound directly into their ears, could the next medical fashion item become the hearing aid? If you’ll excuse the pun, that might not be as crazy as it sounds. Federal legislation called “The Over The Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” finally went into effect in early 2021.

    This legislation allows hearing aids to be sold in stores or online, without any consultation, prescription, or referral. As a result, some trend-spotters are predicting major growth in the hearing aid industry.

    Dina Zeevi is President of the Louisiana Society of Hearing Aid Specialists, and a Board Member and Administrative Secretary of the Louisiana Board of Hearing Aid Dealers. She’s also a Hearing Instrument Specialist and the owner of a hearing aid store on the Westbank, called Hear Now.

    Out to Lunch is recorded over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. 


    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 32 min
    CBD Chefs

    CBD Chefs

    There are people who leave high school with their whole lives mapped out in front of them. They have a career plan, and they set about executing it.

    Then there’s the rest of us. Today, more than ever, many of us regularly find ourselves embarking on new jobs, and, in some cases, whole new careers.

    Take Shane Mutter for example. Shane is a member of the 4th generation of New Orleans family owned business, Doerr Furniture.

    Things went much as planned for Shane and Doerr Furniture. Shane went to work in the family business, learned all aspects of it, and took over as President of the company in 2014. Then, in February 2019, things took an unforeseen turn. Shane left Doerr Furniture to go work with his dad and his dad’s best friend in their second careers. As hemp farmers.

    That’s the short version of how Shane Mutter gets to be National Sales and Marketing Director of Seed2System. It’s a farm-to-consumer operation that grows hemp, processes it, and sells their own brand of what is being hailed as the wonder drug of the 21st Century, CBD

    Barrie Schwartz never intended the dinner parties she threw at her house to lead to one of the most unique careers in catering. But that’s what’s happened.

    Barrie started out calling her home-based dinner events, My House Social. Today, My House Social has evolved into My House Events and bridges the gap between large groups who need to be fed, like conventions, and high-end creative chefs.

    Normally these two things never come together. Large groups typically get fed by institutional chefs who, because of the demands of feeding a lot of people at the same time, don’t turn out the finest cuisine. But folks who come to New Orleans for an event expect the food to be great. After all, that’s what New Orleans is famous for.

    So, what Barrie’s company does, is provide everything creative chefs need to cook for a large group, without these chefs having to make institutional cooking their full-time gig. This is essentially an inspired catering interpretation of the very simplest business  principle: supply and demand.

    This edition of Out to Lunch was recorded live over lunch at Commander's Palace. You can find more conversation about CBD and food over lunch here.

    Photos by Jill Lafleur.

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    • 28 min
    Your Kids and Your Bank Balance

    Your Kids and Your Bank Balance

    If you’re like most people, when you do your taxes once a year you’re genuinely surprised at the numbers staring up at you. You can’t believe how much you spent on various items. Maybe it’s car repair. School supplies. Travel. Eating out. Shoes. Or even groceries. You’re so surprised at how much you spent, compared to how much you earned, that you tell yourself you won’t do that again next year. Then, of course, next year rolls around and you see you’ve repeated the same pattern.

    Your Bank Balance

    If you’re 12 times more determined than most people to exercise financial control, you go through this exercise once a month, when you look at your bank statement or credit card bill.

    Splendor Financial Wellness (which changed its name from Budget Bee Financial Wellness since we recorded this conversation) is a service that sets out to break this pattern of retroactive remorse. Splendor FW turns you into a person who looks forward instead of backward, so, like a business, you know your expenses ahead of time, and you end up making a profit at the end of the month.

    The founder and owner of Splendor Financial Wellness is Molly Richard.

    Your Kids

    If you have small children, you inevitably find yourself buying toys. If you’re trying to exercise some financial discipline and you’re looking at your monthly budget, do you put toys in the “essential” column? Or the “extravagance” column?

    The answer to that question is, Not all toys are created equal.

    If you go to a big-box store or look online, there are a lot of toys of dubious quality, and with little or no educational or enriching value. That’s the reason Melissa Beese founded her company, Little Pnuts. 

    Melissa started Little Pnuts as a toy subscription service. You sign up and Melissa sends you a monthly box of toys curated from around the world that are high quality and, depending on the child’s age, enhance developmental progress in areas like motor skills, focus, and concentration.

    Melissa also makes a special Travel Box for 3 - 6 year olds that fits on a plane’s tray table. Little Pnuts also has a physical storefront, on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview and they've expanded to also include their "Party Boutique" division.

    There’s an old saying about the two things that are inevitable in life: death and taxes. But they might equally be debt and childhood. Molly and Melissa are both working in fields where there are huge markets, and seemingly unlimited opportunity. And they're both growing businesses that have sprung out of their own experiences and your own passions.

    This edition of Out to Lunch was recorded over lunch at Commander's Palace. You can see photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And if you're looking for more lunchtable conversation about how your kids and your budget can make the world a better place, check out this conversation about Miles for Migrants and the Youth empowerment Project.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Thurnis Rollie ,

Great way to learn about the city

Always entertaining and interesting guests that cover all aspects of business.

DouglasRyan ,

Always Entertaining

Peter Ricchiuti is a popular business professor at Tulane University who founded the Burkenroad Report. More importantly for podcast listeners, he is always entertaining, no matter the subject matter. Each week he entertains successful entrepreneurs over lunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. He is witty, creative and informative and his podcast rarely disappoints. New Orleans is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and startups, and Peter’s podcast shines a light on all the good things going on there.

EnzoNola ,

changing face of new orleans

hard to believe this show comes out of NO. Reminds me of the kind of entrepreneur tales from years ago in NYC or SiliconV. but with total New Orleans treatment - irreverent and fun with tons of personality tho manages to be NPR quality. it's actually on WWNO the NPR station in NO

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