Mad Men actor Bryan Batt is a man with a plan. Known for his role as Salvatore Romano, an art director on AMC hit show, Business Insider recently caught up with Batt to talk about his backup plan, a New Orleans shop called Hazelnut.
The forty-eight year old explained that when one of his roles didn’t pan out he decided to take the plunge into the world of design, an interest that was previously something he did for fun. “I always wanted to be an actor, but I always loved design, and growing up in New Orleans there was such great style, great architecture. I would decorate my little apartment in New York over and over again, because it only had a couple of rooms. And I did it for friends and family on the side just for fun.”
After “the funding fell through on a show that I was supposed to do in New York,” Batt explained, he decided to branch out after putting all of his eggs in one basket. He is now the owner of Hazelnut with his partner Tom Cianfichi. A home accessories and gift shop, the actor spends a lot of time there when he’s not in Los Angeles and New York. “Tom and I had always talked about opening up a home furnishings design store in New Orleans. When that [job fell through], I said ‘Now. The window is open. Let’s jump out and do it.’” “It was the scariest thing, because all I had done was acting, and yet I think when you have a passion for something you have to try it,” Batt shared. “Life is an ‘and’ proposition, not an ‘or’ proposition. I realized there was an entire world outside of show business.” But things look to be working out for the performer as he pursues both his business and acting. “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 laughs. “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. I come and go, so it’s hard to balance an acting career and the business.” When he isn’t on set he’s working at his business giving fans a thrill, and a look at how normal he is. “[‘Mad Men’ fans] can’t believe I’m there. I’m walking out with the garbage and they’re like, ‘Really? He’s taking out the trash!’”
As for his role on Mad Men, Batt isn’t sure what the future holds, or if his character will return to Sterling Copper Draper Pryce. “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.”