NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson announced Friday that the process to change the name of Dixie Brewing is now underway.
"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," Benson said.
A replacement name for the company was not immediately released.
The announcement comes one day after the country music group Dixie Chicks announced that they were dropping "Dixie" from their name after anti-racism demonstrations across the world, following the May 25 police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd.
“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," Benson said.
The franchise owner and wife to the late Tom Benson said the company will reflect on its role to make New Orleans, and the country, more united.
“We look forward to listening, learning and making sure that our brewery fulfills its promise of uniting, inspiring and leading all in our community," Benson said.
The Dixie Beer Brewery company, which left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, returned to New Orleans and had the official groundbreaking on its brewery in New Orleans East in January.
Tom and Gayle Benson bought the brand in 2017 and promised to return the beer home, after the post-Katrina exile.
Dixie opened on Oct. 31, 1907 in a massive plant on Tulane Avenue. The beer slowly grew out of favor and in 1975 suffered a near-fatal blow with a so-called “bad batch” that was tainted with chemical fumes from cleaning supplies.
The reopening of a New Orleans brewery, this time at the site of the former MacFrugal's warehouse in New Orleans East, was a move Benson said was deliberate to help revive the economy there.
"[It] 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," Benson said.
When planning the return and revival of Dixie Beer in New Orleans, Benson said the company did "extensive" market research about the name and found, at the time, consumers were for the old name.
"[There was] 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," Benson said.
That sentiment, however, has changed according to Benson, who said executives have had refreshed conversations about the brand in recent weeks.
Speaking on WBOK Friday morning, New Orleans actor Wendell Pierce applauded Benson's decision, saying the change with move the company "into the 21st Century."
Others on social media were quick to question and criticize the change, with some commenters on Facebook saying they would no longer purchase the beer.