“As the generations continue to change, the praline goodness stays the same.” – Loretta S. Harrison
Loretta Harrison founded Loretta’s Authentic Pralines in the 1980s, and it quickly became known as an iconic New Orleans treat. Back then, she faced challenges as the first African American woman in New Orleans to own and operate a praline company. Today, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines is a thriving business with two locations: one in the French Market and one in a corner store on North Rampart Street.
Meet Loretta Harrison
Pralines have been a fixture in Loretta Harrison’s family as long as she can remember: she began making the candies on Sundays with her mother at age 8. They would serve their pralines to family and friends, accompanied by homemade vanilla ice cream. Her family was very close and deeply religious, something Harrison has carried with her as she started her own family and raised her three sons.
As a young woman with a new college degree, Harrison began selling pralines for extra money to supplement her job at the LSU Medical Library. She sold pralines to students at work on campus.
Harrison’s big opportunity came when a New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival praline vendor dropped out, and she was asked to step in. Loretta’s Authentic Pralines has been selling pralines at Jazz Fest ever since, and typically sells between 7,000 and 10,000 per day!
In addition to supporting herself and her three sons, Harrison has won awards for her contributions to the New Orleans economy and her service to the community. She has appeared on local radio and TV shows representing her business and the city.
North Rampart Street Café
Loretta’s French Market location may be the best known, so we’re going to focus on the North Rampart Street Café, which offers breakfast and lunch in addition to sweets. The cute, unassuming corner store location is in walking distance from the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street. But it’s nestled in a quiet off-the-beaten-path neighborhood, which makes any guest feel comfortable and at home.
Not only does the café serve some of the best traditional pralines and beignets in New Orleans, it combines the two into praline beignets, a delicious creation with praline filling and icing drizzle. If you’re not a sweets person, no worries. Loretta also offers some savory beignet options: a crab beignet stuffed with sauteed lump crab meat, a burger beignet where the beignet replaces the bun, and a breakfast beignet with bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese. The menu also includes items like fried catfish and shrimp po-boys.