Statement from Gayle Benson
NEW ORLEANS, La. – One of the most important responsibilities, and greatest opportunities, our teams have had over the years is to unite, inspire and lead our community- particularly in difficult times. Following Hurricane Katrina, my late husband Tom and I decided we would focus on finding New Orleans businesses who were at risk of failing or being sold to companies outside of our region.
We felt strongly that local ownership of businesses is critical to a healthy and sustainable economic environment and thought it was our responsibility to step up at a time few were interested in investing in New Orleans. When presented the opportunity to purchase the majority of Dixie Beer and return the iconic brand to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina we felt this would be a unique opportunity to restore something that has been the true neighborhood beer for generations of New Orleanians.
Prior to making the purchase, however, we wanted to be sure that all members of our community felt the brand was one that represented everyone and they would be proud to welcome back. To ensure this, we engaged in extensive third party market research to ask the people of New Orleans and our region how they felt about the brand and, more specifically, the Dixie Beer name. We also initiated a number of conversations with a diverse group of local cultural, government and educational leaders to gauge their feelings about the brewery and the name. The results of this market research and subsequent conversations resulted in a near universal consensus that restoring Dixie Beer to New Orleans would be a sign of our city’s rebirth and a powerful testament to the resilience of our people. Based on this deliberate and inclusive exploration of what the brand meant, and could mean moving forward, to New Orleans we agreed to purchase the majority of the brewery and embarked on building our state-of-the-art brewery in New Orleans East. This location was selected to create jobs in an area of New Orleans that desperately needs investment and to serve as a catalyst for economic growth in New Orleans East. We have been actively recruiting other businesses to our campus and working on plans to expand our business in New Orleans East.
Since opening, the brewery has been extraordinarily successful in attracting thousands of people to visit New Orleans East and enjoy good food, great beer and good company in a beautiful setting. We have been gratified to see the diversity of our customers who visit from all corners of New Orleans, our region and from around the country.
We recognize, however, that our nation and community are currently engaged in critical conversations about racism and systemic social issues that have caused immeasurable pain and oppression of our black and brown communities. As New Orleans, and our country, continue to evolve we find it necessary to reflect on the role our brewery can play in making our home more united, strong and resilient for future generations.
As a result, we and our partners are committed to once again engaging in conversations with our neighbors, leaders and others to ensure that our brewery continues to be a business and brand our entire community feels represents them well and that they are proud to have as part of our culture.
With inclusive input from all of our community stakeholders, we are preparing to change the name of our brewery and products that carry the Dixie brand and these conversations will determine what brand will best represent our culture and community.
We look forward to listening, learning and making sure that our brewery fulfills its promise of uniting, inspiring and leading all in our community.