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    Drago’s set for February opening will feature nightly entertainment

    Tommy Cvitanovich, the owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, has been in the restaurant business almost as long as he’s been alive.

    “I’m 60 years old and I have a 50-year career in the restaurant business,” said Cvitanovich. “I’m basically a restaurant brat.”

    His first job was when he was 10 years old at the Metairie location. He remembers it well, peeling shrimp while standing on top of a case of #10 cans with an apron that went down to his ankles.

    “Before that, I grew up working with my dad at Drago’s on Harrison Avenue which was owned by my aunt and uncle.”

    And he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

    He’s getting ready to open his fifth restaurant at its newest location in Baton Rouge off of Interstate 10 and College Drive. The $7 million, 13,600 square feet facility is set to open in early February.

    It will have 180 employees and accommodate nearly 500 customers. The bar area alone will seat about 90 people. Cvitanovich said the bar area will feature live music almost nightly which is something new to his restaurants.

    “There’s literally 1,000 hotel rooms within a five-minute walk of the restaurant so people who stay in hotels generally look for good restaurants, but they also look for entertainment as well,” Cvitanovich said.

    The restaurant is named after his dad, Drago. His parents, Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, opened their first restaurant in Metairie in 1969. Since that time, the business has expanded to locations in New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; and Lafayette. The business generates about $30 million in sales and employs about 450 people (not counting the newest location.)

    He says his mom who is 80 years old still works every day at the Metairie location and signs his paycheck.

    “The key to our longevity is good quality food at a reasonable price served in a friendly atmosphere,” he said.  ‘The motto of this restaurant is that everything is about and for the customer and I don’t let anything get in the way of that.”

    The married father of four said he’s been looking for an opportunity to expand in Baton Rouge for a few years, but it never seemed to work out. He’s excited about coming to the Bayou City.

    “This isn’t a version of Dragos,” he said. “This is a Dragos restaurant. We’re very much looking forward to serving our charbroiled oysters to the good people of Baton Rouge.”

    The restaurant bills itself as the home of the original charbroiled oysters. The owner said they serve more than three million oysters a year. Customers can expect oysters as well as the full Drago’s seafood menu.

    The restaurant will be owned by him and his brother. It will feature three private dining rooms that can accommodate 40, 60 and 100 people or 200 people at a time. The private dining areas include a Governor’s room that will be decorated with pictures of all of Louisiana’s governors and have a separate private entrance for dignitaries and Mike’s Den named after LSU’s mascot Mike the Tiger.

    The former president of the New Orleans Restaurant Association isn’t moving to town as he still resides in Metairie, but you can expect to see him here often. In fact, he oversees the management of all of the restaurants so he travels quite frequently.

    “My car is less than a year old and I already have 33,000 miles on it,” he said. “I’m very hands-on.”

    That’s because working in the restaurant is not just a family business. It’s his passion. He served as the chairman of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and spent 11 years on the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors. He also spent seven years on the Canadian Restaurant Association Board of Directors as an exchange director.

    “I’m the type of person that I can’t wait to go to bed at night so I can hurry up and work and start over tomorrow. I love what I do.”

    It’s a love story that’s lasted some 50 years and is still going strong.

    Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
    4580 Constitution Avenue
    Baton Rouge
    Opening date early February
    No reservations

    By Michelle McCalope
    Contributing Writer

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    Twins’ superhero party at Knock Knock museum gives lessons, toys to others

    Diamond Sherrod and husband, Dr. Rome Sherrod hosted a birthday party with a cause for their 5-year-old twin sons, Rome and Paten.

    Diamond Sherrod rented the Knock Knock Children’s Museum Saturday, Sept. 28, and invited 50 of their friends, but the boys did not receive gifts. All of the gifts that their party guests brought were given to homeless children at St. Vincent de Paul.

    “I want to foster a spirit of empathy, gratitude and giving back in my kids and others, while bringing awareness to the difference between the socio-economic experience of their lives and the lives of kids who are homeless. (We) want to raise good human beings,” said the mother.

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    “I also want to encourage other parents to do the same,” she said. “Some of our kids are growing up with a sense of entitlement and even though they are young, it’s important to instill in them the value of practicing gratitude.”

    Sherrod said she and other parents are guilty of what she calls “perfectionist parenting.”

    “We’re worried about getting them into the best schools and getting the best grades or what they will be instead of being concerned with how they will be. This party experience (was) about changing the narrative of their lives to center around empathy, gratitude and giving back. We’re helping to create their story now.”

    During the Superheroes-themed party, she explained her goal and told the young guests that they are Superheroes of Louisiana for helping those in need.

    “True superheroes are giving, caring, courageous, kind, vulnerable, and empathetic,” Sherrod said.
    In addition to enjoying activities at the museum, the children made capes, had their faces painted, and took pictures with superheroes.

    Each child received a Superhero cape and a certificate. The twins also received Superhero of Louisiana certificates signed by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    Sherrod asked parents to join her in donating to an organization that hosts birthday parties for kids at homeless shelters. She’s raised more than $1,400–surpassing her goal of $1,000.

    Event planner Qunitina Ricks, of Flare Event Design, said more than 250 gifts were collected for homeless kids in Baton Rouge, and more than 150 guests attended Rome and Paten’s Royal Avengers Birthday Party.

    By Michelle McCalope
    The Drum Contributing Writer
    @thedrumnews

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    No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit

    Baton Rouge Police Chief plans to release footage, complete officers’ hearing by Friday

    Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday following a 10-month investigation that his office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in the Alton Sterling shooting.

    Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was shot six times by a white Baton Rouge Police officer on July 5, 2016, in front of a Triple S convenience store. The officers, Howie Lake II and Blaine Salamoni were responding to a call about a man with a gun who was assaulting someone. Sterling had been selling CDs in front of the store with permission from the owner.

    Officials said Salamoni shot Sterling while his partner Howard Lake looked on.

    “After careful thought and review of the evidence, the Louisiana Department of Justice will not proceed with prosecution of Officers Lake or Salamoni,” Landry said. “This decision was not taken lightly.”

    Landry said his office thoroughly investigated the case, even re-interviewing witnesses in the case.  He said the evidence just didn’t warrant pursuing criminal charges.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    “We must analyze the evidence and draw a conclusion, but we’re always mindful of the family,” Landry said. “I know the Sterling family is hurting.”

    The Attorney General’s office received the case in May 2017. This after the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana determined during its own investigation that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges or civil rights violations.

    Family members, community leaders, and the Sterling family’s attorneys say they weren’t surprised by the latest findings.

    “We didn’t get any justice,’ said Quinyetta McMilon, the mother of Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron.  “The system failed us. We’re all out of tears. We all knew what it was going to be. We may not get justice down on this earth, but when God comes…As a family, we just got to stay strong.”

    “It was total B.S.,” said community activist Gary Chambers.

    “To put Blane Salamoni back on the street, you’re putting a murderer back on the street,” said Sterling’s Aunt Sandra Sterling who has had two strokes since the incident.  “Shame on you Blane Salamoni. You took an oath to protect and serve not protect and kill.”

    Sterling’s attorneys are filing a civil suit and have called for the firing of both officers who have remained on paid leave since the incident. Together, the officers have been paid more than $130,000 in salary while on leave.

    Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    “We’re putting the City of Baton Rouge, the Mayor and the Metro Council on notice,” said attorney Michael Adams.  “We’re disappointed, but this fight is not over. We have filed a civil suit and justice will be served. The officers will have to talk to us and explain their actions. Baton Rouge will have to hear the truth about what happened. We plan to put it all out there in the light of day.”

    Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for the officers this week so police can determine if any policies or procedures were violated.

    The officers will have a chance to tell their side of the story to the chief and his three deputies. The hearing will not be open to the public.

    “We’re asking the community for a little more patience and to keep our community in your prayers so we can begin the healing process,” Paul said.

    Once the hearing is completed, Paul said the department will announce what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the officers. Paul also said all videos, audio, and 911 calls regarding the incident will be released at that time.

    Broome, who has already said publicly that she wants the officers fired, said she still feels that way.

    “Our focus for our community, city and parish is to have justice and equity not just for some, but for everyone,” Broome said.

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

    Gov. Edwards, ACLU, 100 Black Men, community leaders release statements on Alton Sterling decision

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    ‘Voices from the Bayou’ pulls powerful, emotional writing from BRCC students

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
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    Good Job workshop to teach how to get the job you really want

    Workshop will teach how to set goals and reach them this year 

    It’s a New Year and you’re still doing the same old thing. But it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

    The “Good Job workshop: How to get the job you really want in 2018” will teach you how to set your goals and reach them this year.  The workshop will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon at the EpiCenter, business and event center, 6220 Florida Blvd. Suite B, in Baton Rouge. The cost is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. (Register online)

    As part of the workshop, participants will learn effective goal-setting techniques, how to develop a plan and work it and valuable tips and strategies for pursuing their passions and following their dreams.

    The seminar is sponsored by Michelle McCalope, president of On Assignment Media, and the EpiCenter, a business and event center. The former award-winning journalist, author, and entrepreneur has 30 years of experience in the media and business industry.

    The seminar is based on McCalope’s motivational books, Good Job: A Guide to Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams  and That Good Job: Strategies for Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams. She shares the lessons she’s learned along the way to help inspire others to follow their dreams and not just settle for a job that pays the bills.

    Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email onassignmentmedia@gmail.com

    ONLINE:  www.goodjobworkshop18.eventbrite.com

    Read more »
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