It’s Friday night in Baton Rouge, and finding a table at one of the area’s growing number of popular eateries is tough. Peak hours see queues of patrons waiting to sample the latest grazing boards, craft cocktails or DIY desserts, eager to leave evidence of their evening out on social media.
These days, dining options in the Capital City are robust, even as restaurateurs navigate continued challenges from labor shortages and soaring commodity costs. New spots keep coming, part of a several-years trend in which the local culinary landscape, once set in its ways, is embracing new things.
From the early ‘80s to today, the local hospitality sector has expanded considerably, fueled by factors both local and national, restaurateurs say, including an explosion in consumer awareness about food trends, the use of social media and technology by both operators and diners, the local foods movement, the collective accomplishments of restaurant groups, and, most recently, the global pandemic.
“Baton Rouge has always been an eating out town with a large number of independent restaurants,” says Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and former general manager of Ruth’s Chris in Baton Rouge. “Now, it has really exciting variety.”
This story originally appeared in a Sept. 13 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.