Local businesses are proving to be light on their feet when responding to rapid-fire changes.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
New Orleans restaurants and bars – and their customers - had less than a day to respond to new guidelines limiting their services before the mayor’s office issued a proclamation closing them altogether to public dining/drinking. Movie theaters, malls, health clubs and gyms were also shut down.
Here are the basics (you can read the entire proclamation on the city’s website):
Some places had contingency plans ready to go and spun on a dime. Manolito (509 Dumain Street) is just around the corner from our office and se stopped by while running errands this afternoon. The diminutive cafe has a mammoth reputation - they've been named one of Esquire’s favorite bars in the country for two years running. Manager Joesphine Romo says Manolito will be opening tomorrow (March 17) starting at 4pm, for customer pick-up of food and cocktails. They’ll also be offering delivery.
On Decatur Street, Central Grocery had their dining room roped off, although a small cluster of folks watched an address about the national COVID situation. With only a few customers, there was no wait for a muffaletta, a gotta-have classic in time of crisis. The folks at the counter assured us the muffaletas would keep coming. Central will be open their regular hours for pickup and for delivery through DoorDash.
A few doors away, Sidney’s Wine Cellar wasn’t crowded, but the former newsstand was handling a steady stream of customers. J’Von has worked the counter there for two years. When we asked if business was slacking off as the tourist traffic dried up, he laughed. “Hey, we’re a liquor store,” he said. “And it’s end times.”
The Dutch Alley Artists’ Co-op is located in French Market building that line one side of Decatur. Three artists work sales most days. Today I found printmaker Kiernan Dunn, letterpress printer John Fitzgerald and metal sculptor Stefano Velaska. They shared the news that the lower end of the French Market where the produce and flea market are found had been closed until further notice. They said they’re still getting a fair amount of international travelers in.
The trio said they're not sure how long the gallery will stay open, but the gallery's cutting back to two artists working sales instead of three. The artists themselves are split on whether to close or stay open during the coming weeks.
“We’re all having a meeting to talk about it,” said Stephano.
“No, we’re not,” corrected Kiernan.
“That’s right,” agreed Stephano, “We’re just going to do one of those virtual things instead.”
On the way back to the apartment, I round the corner on Dumaine and spot a parking patroller giving a ticket. She didn’t respond when I asked her if they’re planning to carry on as usual. But on my way to pick up laundry, I spot other tickets on windshields.
In a weird way, I’m almost comforted that some things don’t seem to be subject to change.
Support this project.
Like what you're reading?
Give a one-time amount or subscribe below to help support our writers and our publication.