The actor says the shop also found a perfect niche in the historic uptown district, where unique, individually owned businesses with a well-defined identity continue to fare well. “Magazine Street in New Orleans is a big bastion of that,” he says. “It's a five-mile strip that's predominantly individually owned shops.”
Hazelnut’s particular charms have also been bolstered by Batt’s increasingly high public profile, and business has thrived for nearly a decade, giving him the financial security to continue to pursue his other passions. “When we opened the store I had a very vibrant Broadway career,” he says. “Part of the deal was I would help open the shop and then, whenever I wanted to go off and do a show that was fine. So we've done that and it's worked out perfectly so far.” The shop employs two full-time and three part-time employees.
“We're not rolling in it, but it's doing quite well,” he chuckles. “It looks like we're going to open up another location, about 30 miles outside of the city. We're working on that right now.”
While his three-season stint on “Mad Men” — along with projects like “Ugly Betty,” the upcoming indie crime drama “Brawler,” and stage performances of “Love Letters” with longtime friend Patricia Clarkson — keep him on Hollywood’s radar, Batt says he spends a considerable amount of time working in the store, splitting his time equally between New Orleans, Los Angeles and New York as acting opportunities beckon.
“I come and go, so it's hard to balance an acting career and the business,” he says. “Tom's the businessman. I'm more concept, and I help go on all the buying trips. When I'm in New Orleans, I’m in the shop.”
And getting a lot of attention. “[‘Mad Men’ fans] can't believe I'm there,” he chuckles. “I'm walking out with the garbage and they're like, 'Really? He's taking out the trash!'"
For “Mad Men” devotees still yearning for Sal Romano’s return to the world of Sterling Copper Draper Pryce, Batt is sorry that he can’t offer any concrete news. “I wish I could say yes or no, but all I've been told is that they don't kill the characters off,” he says. “They said, 'You're not dead,' so that's really all I know.”
Good thing he has a backup plan.