Guide to the IFA: How to navigate New Orleans
Guide to the IFA: How to navigate New Orleans

The International Franchising Association’s national convention celebrates franchising and showcases the outlook for the New Year.

This year, IFA will be hosting their convention in New Orleans, a city with a rising economy and eclectic personality. New Orleans is home to big brass bands and insp.....

The International Franchising Association's national convention celebrates franchising and showcases the outlook for the New Year.

This year, IFA will be hosting their convention in New Orleans, a city with a rising economy and eclectic personality. New Orleans is home to big brass bands and inspired food that draws from a spectrum of sources.

IFA will host many who are not from the area and who would like to explore the city. With live music on every street and a culture that has so much history, there is never a dull minute "The Big Easy.”

To help our readers get the most from their New Orleans experience, 1851 went to local franchising experts, Paul Ballard, Owner of PJ’s Coffee, and Richard Leveille, Executive Vice President of Franchise Development and Real Estate for Smoothie King. Each is a New Orleans natives whose brands are based in the Crescent City. With their help, it is our hope IFA conventioneers squeeze the most out of their upcoming visit to New Orleans.

New Orleans also is a place that this reporter fell in love with during a recent trip, so, I couldn’t help but chip in a few thoughts of my own.

Hotel breakfasts can become boring, and rarely showcase the cuisine of the home city. Where are some great places to grab some breakfast before the convention?

Ballard: The best place for breakfast is the award-winning original City Diner on Baronne Street, which serves traditional offerings, giant pancakes and, for the more adventurous foodie, breakfast Louisiana style.

Leveille: Katie’s Restaurant & Bar is great for Sunday brunch. There is also Stanley and of course Café Du Monde.

Powills: If you are interested in doing a little exploring, visit Surrey’s Café & Juice Bar. Surrey’s offered some great variations of juices and adds a New Orleans twist to their breakfast dishes.

Where is the best place to find authentic New Orleans food?

Ballard: For me, authentic New Orleans-style food needs to start with Commander’s Palace. But, there are many new restaurants that are doing some great things like Borgne and Tableau by Dickie Brennan. Deuce McAlister's Ole Saint is another exciting restaurant I am personally involved with featuring coastal Louisiana cuisine inspired by Chef Jared Tees.

Leveille: I suggest that guests get their New Orleans food fix from Mother’s on Poydras St. Other restaurant suggestions include Clancy’s or Mr. B’s Bistro.

Powills: While visiting, I asked one of the hotel managers where I could find a great, local dive-spot. I wanted to have the authentic New Orleans experience in a place that pulled me away from the tourist pack, but kept me in the French Quarter. He introduced me to Coop’s Place, which offered amazing and quirky local-inspired food at a great price. Just a heads-up, the place has video gaming, so the crowd is all 21 or older. Sorry, no kids.

Where are some great places to see and hear live music in New Orleans?

Ballard: Great New Orleans live music for me starts with Irving Mayfield. For great music venues that play New Orleans music and host national bands, you can't go wrong with Tipitinas or the House of Blues. The newly restored Civic Theatre is also a personal favorite.

Leveille: Frenchman Street has a lot of great local music. You can find artists like local music celebrity, Glen David Andrews. The atmosphere is great and the music is even better. Plus, it was nice to get away from Bourbon Street.

Powills: Preservation Hall is a tiny space, and the schedule is unpredictable, but this place was founded for the sole purpose of preserving New Orleans jazz culture. If you can wedge your way into the door, you’ll have a great time.

Where are some fun places to go if children will be traveling with during the IFA Conference?

Ballard: Children should start out at the world-famous Audubon Zoo. The Aquarium and Insectariums are also must see stops. Mardi Gras World has a great tour showcasing some of the best floats from Mardi Gras. It’s pretty cool to see these works of art under construction; it's truly local artistry at its finest!

Leveille: Great attractions for children include the zoo, the aquarium, the insectarium, and the children’s museum.

Powills: Kids aren’t my specialty, but the National WWII Museum also provides some historical family fun.

Where would be a great place to go to learn about New Orleans history and culture?

Ballard:The Cabildo in the heart of the French Quarter is a great stop for some local history. The Louisiana Purchase ceremonies were actually held within the building. It is located next to another historical landmark – the St. Louis Cathedral – which is oldest cathedral in the United States.

Leveille: To learn about New Orleans culture, visitors are going to want to check out The Cabildo along Jackson Square. Guests can learn about the great history of New Orleans.

Powills: If you are feeling somewhat adventurous and want to experience something unique, give the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Tremé section of the city a try.

Where are some great places to shop?

Ballard: Shopping at Canal Place is convenient to the downtown area and hosts mostly high-end national and regional retailers. Another great shopping area is Magazine Street featuring locally owned boutiques, cafés and antique stores.

Leveille: Magazine Street or Canal Place provides guests some great shopping options.

Powills: There is no shortage of shops and stores in the French Quarter to quench your thirst for a trinket or some memento of your New Orleans stay. Haggling is part of the deal with the street vendors that will be out and about around St. Louis Cathedral. Expect the unexpected, and you’ll probably find something fun to take home. 

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