What’s Up?

Will voters go all-in for Pinnacle’s casino plan?

On Feb. 9 East Baton Rouge Parish voters will decide whether to allow Pinnacle Gaming to establish a riverboat casino in Southeast Baton Rouge. Here’s what all the fuss is about:

The project

Pinnacle, a growing casino company that did more than $900 million in sales in 2006, proposes a $250 million riverboat casino and resort hotel south of LSU.

Why care?

If approved, it could become a major player in local gambling, while putting more traffic on South Baton Rouge roads and cutting into revenue at Baton Rouge’s other two riverboat casinos.

Who supports it?

Metro Council members Wayne “Spider” Carter, Charles Kelly, Mike Walker, Darrell Ourso and Byron Sharper.

Who opposes it?

Metro Council members Pat Culbertson, Ulysses “Bones” Addison, Mickey Skyring, competing riverboat casinos, and The Advocate newspaper.

Read why LSU architecture professor David Cronrath says the Pinnacle debate misses the point here.

Espresso yourself

Brian and Shari LeBlanc were CC’s and Starbucks regulars until four years ago when they decided to brew their own coffee at home in Gonzales. When that became too time-consuming, Shari had an idea: Why not make a lot at once and freeze it? So they poured coffee into several ice trays and stuck them in the freezer.

Surprised by the results, they launched JazzyBird Café and partnered with Slidell roaster Ken Watson of Reliable Coffee to produce Frozen Espresso Shots. Drinkers on the go place the espresso shot in a microwave-safe coffee mug, add a half cup of milk and zap it for two minutes. Eight-packs are available for $7.95 at Matherne?s Supermarkets and soon at other Associated Grocers stores.

“We’re just getting started commercially, but we’re proud of it,” Brian LeBlanc says. “We’ve been making these at home for a long time.” —JEFF ROEDEL

Check, please

Eating out will cost more in 2008, says Jim Urdiales of Mestizo Louisiana-Mexican restaurant.

The primary culprit: Gasoline prices are driving up the cost of everything from linens to liquor. Also to blame: enviro-friendly ethanol, a biofuel whose producers have snapped up so much corn they sent cattle feed prices skyward, which jacked up dairy prices.

Urdiales says restaurant owners face either cheaper ingredients to hold down prices or bumping up prices to maintain quality.

“I’ve decided to go up a straight dollar amount on certain items,” Urdiales says. “It’s hard when practically everything you serve comes with cheese.” —SARAH YOUNG

Prices moo-ving up

(Wholesale prices invoiced to Mestizo)

Land O’ Lakes extra melt American cheese (used in Mestizo’s heavenly quesos)

January 2007: $61.73/case

December 2007: $82.92/case

Heavy whipping cream

January 2007: $2.50/pint

December 2007: $3.60/pint

Milk

January 2007: $3.37/gallon

December 2007: $4.52/gallon

Sundays to get good again

Mark your April calendar and get your lazy Sundays in now because the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and 225 are bringing back downtown’s free outdoor concert series. On April 6, local Southern rock favorite the Benjy Davis Project kicks off the first of four Sunday in the Park noon concerts. Lafayette’s next generation of Cajun and folk musicians, Feufollet, performs April 13. New Orleans R&B legend Walter “Wolfman” Washington will funk things up April 20, and wrapping up the spring season is Sonny Boy Williamson acolyte James “Superharp” Cotton, who brings the best of the blues harmonica on April 27. Check upcoming issues of 225 for more details.

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