If you went to the grocery store during the earlier days of the pandemic, you’ll remember there were long shelves of empty space.

The first thing that went was toilet paper. I’m not sure if any economist, sociologist, or psychologist has fully explained that. Then it was flour, and yeast. Because, for some unaccountable reason, everybody stuck at home started baking bread. Then, more logical staples started flying off the shelves. Staples that last, so you didn’t have to go to the store so often. Like pasta. And beans.

Bean

Then, and now, if you buy beans in New Orleans, there’s a good chance they’re Camellia. Camellia Beans have been around since 1923. Today, 95% of all packaged, dry beans sold in New Orleans are Camellia.

The Camellia brand has been owned by the Hayward family since its founding. And that predates the pandemic by quite some time. Sawyer Hayward founded the company when he moved to New Orleans from Bermuda. In 1850.

Vince Hayward, current keeper of the kingdom of Camellia Beans

Vince Hayward, current keeper of the kingdom of Camellia Beans

The current CEO of L.H.Hayward Company LLC, Vince Hayward, is Peter’s guest on this edition of Out to Lunch. The current king of the NOLA bean empire us clearly enjoying his reign, and selling more beans than ever.

Burrito

Not all beans end up on a plate of red beans and rice. If you prefer beans that are refried, or you like black beans, with caramelized pork and guacamole – or a whole bunch of other authentic Mexican dishes – you could head to one of the 9 locations of Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria.

If you’re in New Orleans you might be thinking, “I know Felipe’s has a few locations but I didn’t know they have 9.” And you’re right. There are 3 Felipe’s in New Orleans. Another 4 in Florida. One in Maryland, outside of Baltimore, and one in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pike Howard - growing Felipe's Mexican Taqueria chain from home base in New Orleans

Pike Howard – growing Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria chain from home base in New Orleans

Felipe’s is a New Orleans company. It was founded here in 2006. The person largely responsible for its impressive growth, is its Director of Finance and Development, Pike Howard. If you’re wondering how a Mexican Taqueria is spreading across the country from its unlikely home in New Orleans, well, that’s a real New Orleans story.

Peter Ricchiuti, watched over by the angels of Bean Burrito

Peter Ricchiuti, watched over by the angels of Bean Burrito

Photos by Jill Lafleur . Check out more about the first family of beans on this way pre-pandemic Out to Lunch.

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