Can you believe we are already in August? It’s crazy! Southern Decadence is next month and then we roll right into the holidays. Time flies when you take a year off for a global pandemic. As we start to make our way back out, if the unvaccinated don’t shut us down, to enjoy cocktails again, my bartender for the month of August is the fabulous Lawrence Edward at Betty’s Bar & Bistro.
Located at 700 Burgundy Street, Betty’s is a locally-owned [Ed. Note: Betty’s is owned by the owner of Ambush.], drinking and dining establishment. It’s open daily and has both indoor and outdoor eating, a wonderfully scrumptious menu, and delightful bartenders. The venue’s relaxed and comfortable atmosphere is reflective of the staff that works there. Lawrence is a shining star on the team and a personable mixologist.
Originally from Indiana, this Hoosier has now spent 21 years in our magical city and loves it. “Growing up I lived vicariously through my grandfather’s annual Mardi Gras pilgrimages, so I always knew eventually I had to make New Orleans my home,” he explains.
Lawrence is the ultimate professional whose 29-year bartending career started in Indiana at a disco called NYC. When he moved to our city, he first worked at Wood Enterprises bars, then spent 11 years at The Bourbon Pub and five at The 700 Club until it closed; he’s been working at Betty’s since she opened. Also, during this time, he managed to spend five summers in Provincetown working at The Boatslip.
This very impressive resume has helped shape him into a powerhouse behind the bar. His bartending skills are amazing, especially his ability to get drinks quickly to his patrons. One of his best traits behind the bar is his winning personality. “I like being able to connect to people and make their day better with a funny story or make a recommendation that excites them. My drinks are consistent and honestly that’s a great skill. Probably the most important thing is that I care about my job and it shows in my guests’ faces.”
As a business owner, finding an employee who cares for his job is gold in the hospitality industry. You cannot teach people how to be hospitable; that is something that comes from within and these people make the best bartenders. Lawrence can make any liquid creation behind the bar, but when he goes out, he mostly sticks with vodkas and loves to do special shots with his favorite bartenders around town.
I believe being a bartender in New Orleans (or any tourist destination) is unique. He credits his love for bartending in our city because he works with a good mix of tourists and locals. “For me, what I love about Betty’s is that it has great food and drinks, and locals recommend us which helps bring in a better crowd. The bar has a nice atmosphere and there’s always something going on there. You can watch sports or music videos or play video poker or just chat with your friends or the bartender,” he continues.
As we start making a headway outside this pandemic (albeit slowly; have I said it enough times to get vaccinated?!), I have wanted to know how my interviewees dealt with things and what they see for the future of the industry. I loved Lawrence’s sincere and genuine response. “Outside of that whole ‘Gosh, I’m probably going to get COVID and die’ thing, the original shutdown was pleasant for me. The plants in my garden kept me very busy and I stayed connected to a small core group. Seeing how New Orleans came together (mostly) to protect each other was very helpful to me personally. Financially it was ruinous but family and friends (and understanding landlords) helped keep me afloat. Our industry has to step up as a whole. Employees deserve safe working conditions and the pandemic has highlighted that like never before.”
You can check out Lawrence at Betty’s Thursday through Sunday, daytimes on the weekend and on the mid-day shift on Thursdays.