A picture of Senator David Vitter
David V.
Republican LA

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    by Senator David Vitter

    Posted on 2015-02-05

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    VITTER. Mr. President, small businesses across the country have the unique opportunity to put their special stamp on the traditions that mark their communities. In honor of Black History Month, I would like to recognize Loretta Harrison, owner and operator of a successful New Orleans-based praline company. Through the hardships of starting a business to persevering and even expanding through one of the most tragic natural disasters to hit the United States, this small business has gone above and beyond the past 35 years to carry the tradition of this special treat to the people of New Orleans. It is my pleasure to recognize Loretta's Authentic Pralines as this week's Small Business of the Week.

    Before she felt the calling to bring her family's special praline recipe to her community, Loretta--who serves as president and CEO-- worked as a medical librarian at Louisiana State University. Pralines are a common Louisiana dessert, with roots that go all the way back to the original French settlers. They are made of ingredients that are plentiful to the region, which include an intricate mix of sugar, butter, cream, and pecans. Through Loretta's hard work and determination, what started as a praline stand at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has now grown into a storefront in both the Marigny and the French Market. Not only does Loretta's Pralines serve a wide variety of signature pralines, but it has expanded the menu to include other delicious desserts, such as king cakes, coconut macaroons, fudge, and oatmeal raisin cookies. The store in the Marigny also doubles as a cafe for breakfast and lunch, serving sweet and savory favorites like sweet potato pancakes and shrimp and grits.

    Apart from the legacy of being some of the best pralines in New Orleans, which is no easy feat, Loretta's Pralines is known for its strength and support during the rebuilding of the city after Hurricane Katrina. With the blessing of minimal damage to her store, Loretta recognized that there was an important void in her community that she immediately stepped in to fill. By temporarily changing the business model from a sweet shop to a restaurant, Loretta was able to feed the volunteers, workers, and reporters who were helping to rebuild the city she knew and loved. Loretta's Pralines also became a sort of haven for those whose lives had changed dramatically, a familiar meeting place as part of a larger community during the recovery. This act of benevolence in the midst of the hardship cemented Loretta's Pralines as a New Orleans institution.

    Small business owners like Loretta Harrison are what make our State truly unique--indeed, we would not be the same without their examples of courage and kindness. I am honored to recognize a small business that has shown compassion during the devastating times, as well as ingenuity and success in expanding their business across the city. Congratulations again to Loretta's Authentic Pralines. I wish you all the best and more in the future. ____________________

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