History of Natco
Our story began in 1925 when Nicholas Lalla, an immigrant from Sicily, Italy, arrived in New Orleans. As with any new immigrant to America, Nicholas searched for a job so he could provide for his family. While venturing through the French Quarter one day, he came upon a butcher whose carriage was servicing the many residents of the area. Seeing his opportunity to provide a unique combination of quality meats and outstanding service, Nicholas began his career as a butcher.
Nicholas’ carriage eventually evolved into a grocery store known as National Meat located on Magazine Street. It was here that he was able to showcase his meats alongside the everyday groceries that the neighborhood demanded. Over time, Nicholas’ dedication to quality products and service made him the favorite choice of not only the residents of the area, but of local chefs as well. Chefs from fine dining establishments all over town came in daily to hand select their cuts with Nicholas.
Nicholas’ son Leonard started helping his father at National Meat at an early age. Leonard’s passion for the business was unmistakable. Seeing his son’s desire to continue the family business, Nicholas handed over the reigns of National Meat to Leonard in 1968. Building upon the quality and service that his father started National Meat with, Leonard continued to grow the family business. By 1978, National’s restaurant client list had grown so large that Leonard was faced with a dilemma - either continue to try and service the public and the ever growing list of chefs or begin a new era as a commercial food service distributor.
Similar to the passion he developed for his father’s craft, so did Leonard’s children. As teenagers, Leonard’s 12 children helped their father first with National as a grocery and through its transition to commercial food service distributor. Four of his children took on a special fondness for the business - John, Anne, Earline, and Thomas. Over time, Leonard brought his 4 children more and more into the business. In the early 1990s he began transitioning away from the day to day operations of National and in 1994, Leonard officially turned over the reigns to his four children, leaving the family business in great hands. John, Anne, Earline, and Thomas continued the family legacy and have grown National - also known as Natco - from its local foundation to a regional institution.
Having outgrown its Magazine Street location, the 4 siblings began searching in early 2005 for a larger facility. Unbeknownst to them, Mother Nature would help speed this process up. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina demolished an enormous amount of the infrastructure all along the gulf coast, including Natco’s Magazine Street location. Determined to not only survive but also give back to the community that had been so great to them over the years, Natco immediately moved into a facility they had been eyeballing earlier that year. Initially working with 18-wheelers as their cold storage facilities, Natco’s perseverance helped ship out their first order in October 2005, a mere month after Hurricane Katrina. Continuing their commitment, Natco built out their state of the art facility within 6 months, and have now surpassed their pre-Katrina service area and volume.