ICYMI: 225’s most-read stories of January 2024, from Blue Store Chicken to Mardi Gras to Best of 225

The first month of the year has been anything but a slow start for Baton Rouge.

We skipped right past the post-holiday hangover and sprang into a season of parades, king cakes and several new openings. Plus, 225 kicked off award season with the opening of the annual Best of 225 Awards Nominations.

Let’s get into it—here’s a look at this month’s most-read stories at 225batonrouge.com.

1. Best of 225 Awards Nominations

The annual July reveal of the Best of 225 Awards winners always inspires a lot of discourse on the state of food, drinks, shopping, arts and culture in Baton Rouge. But the conversation should really start in January, when we open the call for nominations. Any 225 area resident can submit fill-in-the-blank, write-in nominations for their favorite local restaurants, bars, coffee shops, influencers, boutiques, artists and so much more. Your nominations today determine what ends up the ballot later this spring. So make sure to have your voice heard before the nominations close next week.

Hue Tran, one of our 2024 People to Watch in the Capital Region. Photo by Collin Richie

2. How Triplet’s Blue Store went from a local hidden gem to a growing chicken empire

New locations of Blue Store Chicken have been “popping up like hot oil,” writes 225 contributor Cynthea Corfah in our 2024 People to Watch profile of Hue Tran. Tran and her siblings are growing their family business, which began as a convenience store in 1993. Now, they’re planning locations in areas like Gonzales, Prairieville and Central and are even exploring franchising options in cities like New Orleans and Houston. How did they build the hype? Tran tells 225 the backstory.

Photo courtesy CounterspaceBR

3. It’s time for king cakes: Flavors to try around Baton Rouge this season

Calzones, cake balls, macarons and martinis—is there a drink or dish that can’t be Carnival-flavored? Contributing writer Gabrielle Korein rounded up some interesting riffs on the king cake to try around town this season, from the King Cake Pop-Tart at CounterspaceBR to the King Cake Burger at Mason’s Grill.

Origin Hotel. Photo by Ariana Allison

4. First Look: Origin Hotel brings rooftop views, an all-day restaurant and Louisiana design elements to downtown

A model tiger, a pink Smeg fridge and shelves full of Sweet Baton Rouge T-shirts greet guests in the lobby of the Origin Hotel. (Sounds dreamy, right?) Nearly two years in the making, downtown’s newest boutique hotel debuted this month in the spot once occupied by Holiday Inn Express. Its stylish, art deco rooms are pet-friendly, and it also has a restaurant, coffee shop and rooftop bar. Take a tour with 225 features writer Maggie Heyn Richardson and contributing photographer Ariana Allison.

Clothes and accessories from Baton Rouge boutiques. Images courtesy the boutiques

5. What to wear to stand out at Baton Rouge’s Mardi Gras balls

Before their parades roll, local krewes get dressed up for Mardi Gras balls. In true Carnival fashion, the dress codes are all over the place—some balls require formal tuxes and floor-length gowns, while others encourage attendees to show up in costume. Dressing the part takes planning. 225 digital staff writer Olivia Deffes curated a list of what to wear based on this year’s themes, from long dresses and cufflinks to vintage pieces and costume accessories.