Turk File

Turk File - March 2008

by Leslie Turk

Adrien’s expanding to Grand Marche center on Johnston

One of Lafayette’s favorite independent grocers is expanding with a second location on Johnston Street at Camellia Boulevard in the Grand Marche shopping center. Adrien’s Supermarket, which has a 22,000-square-foot store on Congress Street, is taking over the vacant shopping center spot that used to be a Piggly Wiggly — and before that, a location of Adrien’s.

The grocery store was founded in 1962 by Adrien Langlinais, and at one time also operated in Broussard. In 1999 Adrien’s was purchased by Patrick Palombo, who had worked for the store for almost three decades. In 2003, Palombo closed the Broussard location, devoting all of his efforts to building an even stronger customer base on Congress Street, a store locals favor for its cleanliness, convenience, service and impressive meat and specialty foods department. Outliving some chain grocers that have closed their doors in Lafayette in recent years and effectively competing with others, Adrien’s Supermarket is once again in an expansion mode.

Herb Palombo, Patrick’s brother and an Adrien’s manager on Congress Street, says while the two locations will be relatively close together, the Camellia Boulevard bridge has opened the new site up to a much broader customer base.

Tsunami, Lounge become one

Michele Ezell and her partners at Tsunami Sushi on Jefferson Street had what amounts to a couple of “aha” moments before and after this Valentine’s Day. Booked up and having already turned down a number of requests for reservations on Feb. 14, they decided to start offering dining at their upscale sister business, Lounge, located next door. Customers jumped at the offer. “We ended up having 10 total reservations,” says Ezell. “We seated about 45 people.”

In the days that followed, the customers who had celebrated Valentine’s Day at Lounge began inquiring into what opportunities might be offered to dine there again. “We got some complimentary calls, saying ‘hey, the next time y’all do that, let us know. We’d love to dine there again,’” Ezell recalls. That’s when another little light bulb went off. “We put our heads together and said why don’t we do that all the time. We do typically have a hefty wait on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, so we can always use the overflow room,” Ezell says. The decision was quickly made to marry the two concepts, and on Sunday, Feb. 24, an access door will be added to the side of Tsunami’s bar to accommodate both groups of diners. By the weekend of March 1 — possibly even before — customers will have a choice of where they’d like to eat their sushi. With very little reconfiguration, Lounge will add another 48 seats, including bar dining, to Tsunami’s 120-seat restaurant. Ezell expects the two crowds to be quite different.

“[Lounge will] cater more to the adult diner who does not want to come into in a busy, loud restaurant,” Ezell says. “Obviously, a lot of people do enjoy that, but I think there’s a niche of adult clientele who want to be able to enjoy our meal but want a nice, adult environment — one that’s quiet and intimate.”
Neuner chairing La. Public Defender Board**

Lafayette attorney Frank Neuner, who became concerned about the condition of Louisiana’s indigent defense system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — a time when he was also president of the Louisiana State Bar Association — is now in a position to better address the needs of this population. Neuner’s been tapped by Gov. Bobby Jindal to chair the Louisiana Public Defender Board, which was established by Act 307 of the 2007 Legislative session as an independent board under the governor’s office. Since 2006, Neuner has served as a board member of the PDB’s predecessor, the Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board, and was vice chair of the PDB before his recent appointment as chairman.

“I saw a huge need in New Orleans and statewide,” Neuner says, explaining that Hurricane Katrina did not necessarily exacerbate problems in the system but rather exposed some of its deficiencies. In part, that’s what led to the 2007 legislative action, which created the PDB and gave it more authority to regulate and control the delivery of indigent defense services throughout the state. Neuner will lead the board in implementing the numerous reforms mandated by the Legislature in Act 307. “Some of these reforms include increased juvenile services, accountability and statewide training and compliance officers,” he says. “Additionally, we have enlisted the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association to assist with board training and implementation of the Act.”

Neuner has practiced law for 32 years and is a founding partner of Laborde & Neuner, a local defense-based firm.

The Louisiana PDB’s mission is to improve the criminal justice system and the quality of criminal defense services provided to individuals through a community-based delivery system. It works to ensure equal justice for all residents, guarantee the respect for personal rights of individuals charged with criminal or delinquent acts, and aims to uphold the highest ethical standards of the legal profession.

Kleinpeter ice cream arrives in Lafayette

On Feb. 20 Kleinpeter Farms’ new line of ice cream, straight from its recently constructed Baton Rouge processing plant, hit the shelves of several local grocery stores, including Piggly Wiggly, Champagne’s, Earl’s Food Center, Adrien’s and Breaux’s Mart. The company has also contacted several chains, including Target, Winn Dixie and Albertsons, but no word yet on whether the creamy concoction will be available at those chains.
The Capital City company, which in December entered the Lafayette market (“Got Milk?” February 2008), debuted its “homemade” line of ice cream with two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, but has already added Ponchatoula Strawberry. Down the road it will introduce Buttered Pecan, using pecans from Bergeron’s Pecans in New Roads, and Pralines and Cream, made with pralines from Aunt Sally’s Pralines in New Orleans. At this time, the ice cream is only available in half gallons and retails for about $5.70.

“It is selling off the shelves like crazy,” says company President Jeff Kleinpeter. “All of our flavors are made with Louisiana cane sugar. People are very loyal to locally produced products that utilize locally grown ingredients these days.”

Kleinpeter’s next stop for ice cream is the Houma-Thibodaux market, then on to New Orleans.

Mike Strain, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, says this Kleinpeter expansion is about much more than ice cream, crediting the company for helping offset tremendous losses in the state’s dairy farming business. “Over the past decade we’ve lost more than 320 dairies in Louisiana,” Strain says. “The only way we can put an end to this downward trend is for more businesses to follow Kleinpeter’s lead and commit to using fresh, Louisiana-grown or Louisiana made ingredients in their products.”