Robért LeBlanc, founder and creative director of New Orleans-based hospitality group LeBLANC+SMITH, has been named Restaurateur of the Year for 2019 by the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA). LeBlanc is heavily involved with the Louisiana Restaurant Association and served as keynote speaker at this year’s LRA Education Foundation’s ProStart Invitational, inspiring area high schoolers to pursue their dreams of a career in the culinary arts. LeBlanc was recognized at the association’s final Board Dinner of the year, which took place on Tuesday, October 29 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles, LA.
“Robert is one of those guys who embodies what the Restaurateur of the Year is for the LRA,” says Paul Rotner, 2019 Louisiana Restaurant Association Chair and CEO of Acme Management Group. “A lot of folks talk about how wonderful they are. Robért talks about how wonderful their team is, how they develop concepts, and how they execute at a really high level,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO of Louisiana Restaurant Association.
LeBLANC+SMITH is a boutique hospitality group comprised of five restaurants and bars in New Orleans, including the French Quarter restaurants Sylvain, Longway Tavern, and Meauxbar, the Uptown restaurant Cavan, and the Lower Garden District bar Barrel Proof. LeBlanc’s latest project is redeveloping a historic Uptown mansion to become Hotel Chloe, a 14-room luxury F&B-driven hotel, in early 2020. The brand is focused on creating culturally relevant 21st-century hospitality experiences through superlative food and beverage programs, timeless design, and a prevailing sense of Southern hospitality.
“I am deeply grateful and honored to be named Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 2019 Restaurateur of the Year,” says Robért LeBlanc, LeBLANC+SMITH Founder and Creative Director. “But I am also really clear that this is a team award. The people with whom I work at LeBLANC+SMITH are the heart and soul of this company. This recognition is a direct result of the boundless dedication, fierce loyalty and undeniable talent they bring to the table each and every day,” he continued.
The LeBlanc family roots date back to mid-18th century New Orleans, and Robért spent much of his childhood in the city before attending Loyola University to play basketball and study economics and finance. While attending the university, he started a record label and produced three underground hip-hop albums, learning the importance of aesthetics, design, branding, and programming in the process. With his music promotions experience, Robért successfully led guerilla marketing and branding campaigns for clothing and entertainment clients while also planning and promoting concerts and special events at music venues and private spaces throughout New Orleans, eventually leading to the development and operation of two hotel bars. The close ties between the music and hospitality industries and the desire to cultivate a community of diversity around the two sectors led Robért to the creation of LeBLANC+SMITH in 2014.
To this day, the idea and design for each of his spaces begin with asking the question, “What type of music should be playing in this room?” Collectively, Robért’s portfolio of bars and restaurants is considered the most stylish and regularly frequented in New Orleans, approaching $12 million per year in gross revenues.