Over the last few years, Southwest Louisiana has boomed. Billions in petrochemical investments poured into the region and put Lake Charles on an economic tear. And there were plenty of entrepreneurs to take advantage of the bonanza. With big ticket clientele around and plenty of work, prosperity in Lake Charles market was the envy of the state.

The pandemic put a halt to that. Just like it did the last decade of economic expansion in America, the longest on record.

Just when Lake Charles and the rest of Louisiana began to wake up again. It got walloped. Twice. First Hurricane Laura. Then Hurricane Delta.

Christiaan’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana have businesses  in Lake Charles that have managed to keep chugging despite the chain of disasters.

Lake Charles serial entrepreneur John Viator -

Lake Charles serial entrepreneur John Viator –

John Viator operates a pair of bicycle shops – Southern Bicycle Company in Lake Charles and Acadiana Bicycle Company in Lafayette. The industrial clientele in the Lake Charles area has made the shop there very successful. And John has catered to them. But he’s also diversified. He launched a golf cart operation, Southern Golf Cars, two years ago, is developing a running retail brand and now has eyes on the shoe market.

Lake Charles drone entrepreneur Cody Porche

Lake Charles drone entrepreneur Cody Porche

Cody Porche’s company, Porche Aerial Imagery, flies unmanned drones for aerial photography in the Lake Charles’ industrial sector. Drones are cheaper and safer to operate than helicopters and have begun to shoulder in on that market. As you can imagine, aerial photography is in pretty high demand after a disaster, and Cody says Laura has kept him very busy since it came ashore with devastating effect across Southwest Louisiana.

Lake Charles 2020

John Viator, Christiaan Mader, Cody Porche around the virtual lunch table

Photos by Jill Lafleur. Here’s some more lunchtime conversation about Lake Charles from BC (Before Covid).