Week in Review, Feb. 28-March 4: Carnival Visitors Return; City Lifts Mask Mandate

Aptopix Mardi Gras
A person makes faces as they march in the Societe de Sainte Anne parade during Mardi Gras on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans hospitality industry celebrated the return of parades and visitors for the 2022 Carnival season. New Orleans & Co. reported that the city’s 26,000 downtown hotel rooms were 85% full on Saturday, which is only 15% less than the same day in 2020. On Ash Wednesday, meanwhile, city health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno announced that New Orleans was lifting its indoor mask mandate. She said the requirement to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for entry into bars, restaurants or other venues will end March 21 barring a spike in COVID-related hospitalizations.

Here are more of the week’s top business stories:

N.O. Restaurants in Running for James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists in advance of the returning James Beard Awards presented by Capital One.  Brennan’s is competing in the category of Outstanding Restaurant, which honors establishments that demonstrate “consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to the broader community.” Haitian restaurant Fritai, located on Basin Street, and Lengua Madre, a Constance Street spot that serves “reimagined” Mexican fare, are both up for Best New Restaurant honors. And Avenue Pub is in the running in the category of Outstanding Bar Program. Several New Orleans chefs have been singled out for honors as well. The Emerging Chef category includes Serigne Mbaye of Dakar Nola, and the Best Chef: South category includes six local culinary creatives: Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith of Saint-Germain; Hao Gong, LUVI Restaurant; Melissa M. Martin, Mosquito Supper Club; Michael Nelson, GW Fins; Allison Richard, High Hat Cafe; and Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery.


Spencer Maxwell Shilstone, son of New Orleans fitness icon Mackie Shilstone, has launched health, wellness and nutritional supplement company MaxWell Nutrition in a 500-square-foot location at the Rink on Prytania (2727 Prytania Street). Customers can also shop online, where Shilstone offers articles and videos, including his father’s “Workout Wednesday” web series. “I knew I could offer a better alternative; one driven by science-based, research-driven nutritional products,” said Shilstone in a press release. The younger Shilstone is a 2014 marketing and business management graduate from the University of Mississippi. He’s been certified as a nutrition coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He said the idea for this new venture came into focus after he was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, which provides education, capital, and business support services to entrepreneurs. But Shilstone has been around the industry from a young age. …

EJ Urgent Care in Kenner has partnered with LCMC Health and has been rebranded as LCMC Health Urgent Care. “LCMC Health is excited to welcome LCMC Health Urgent Care to our family of hospitals,” said Greg Feirn, the health system’s CEO. “We take pride in supporting our communities and we look forward to offering individuals and families the high level of compassionate care they deserve.” LCMC Health Urgent Care will treat patients three months and older for a variety of minor illnesses and injuries. Other services include rapid COVID-19 testing and occupational health services for workplace injuries, DOT/Non-DOT physicals, blood analysis, return-to-work exams, and drug testing. …

STEM Library Lab has scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its new STEM Ecosystem Hub headquarters in Metairie. STEM Library Lab is a local nonprofit that fosters high-quality active learning by providing teachers and students with access to equipment and support to help drive academic success. The public grand opening celebration is set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at 3011 N. I-10 Service Rd E. The new Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown STEM Education Center is a 12,000 square-foot building funded by the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation. The equipment lending co-op at the new facility offers teachers access to over $120,000 in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classroom equipment and materials, which run the gamut of the imagination. “With this generous contribution from the Brown Foundation, as well as contributions from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, Booth Bricker Foundation, and other charitable contributions to conduct capital repairs, we are able to expand our vision of making sure every child has the opportunity to discover a passion for STEM through access to resources and support for teachers,” said STEM Library Lab Executive Director Todd Wackerman. …

On March 3, Gov. John Bel Edwards was joined by Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory and other leaders to celebrate the completion of the Bottle Art Lofts, a multi-phase adaptive re-use development with a leasing preference for artists on the site of the formerly distressed Four Corners neighborhood. Josh Collen, president of HRI Communities, served as emcee for the event after overseeing the development of the project from conception.  “This complex has breathed new life into what used to be an underutilized neighborhood and will now serve as a catalyst for other public and private reinvestment initiatives in this area and beyond,” said Edwards. “One of the most important aspects of this project is the safety and resilience that are built into it. As storms become more frequent and more intense, it’s critical that we create affordable housing that can provide a safe home for our most vulnerable residents. If we’re going to lead the country in disaster impacts, we’d better lead the country in how we prepare for and adapt to disasters. This development is a big step in that direction, demonstrating new techniques that can make all our housing more resilient in the future.”

Categories: A Week In Review, Mardi Gras, Today’s Business News