As more and more New Orleans restaurants are forced to cut staff, Mid City meat hub Blue Oak BBQ, acclaimed cocktail bar Cure, and a local seafood supplier have stepped up with initiatives to support laid off hospitality and service industry employees.
Just days after Louisiana closed bars and restaurant dining rooms, hundreds of New Orleans service industry employees from Parkway Bakery to Arnaud’s have been laid off, and more are sure to follow. And while there are various ways to support the city’s favorite restaurants — most of which are open for takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery — their former workers are also in need of immediate help.
CureCo, the company that runs Cure, Cane & Table, and the forthcoming Vals, has a created a relief fund for the group’s furloughed employees. Customers can choose from five batched cocktails ($45, serves six people) and two individually-bottled cocktails ($10) to be picked up from Cure, with all proceeds benefiting the fund. Additionally, the group is auctioning off some of Cure’s rare bottles from the back bar (think Pappy Van Winkle), with the winning bids also going to support the fund.
The beloved Blue Oak BBQ is taking a different route, partnering with Urban South Brewery to feed the hospitality industry. On Saturday, March 21 starting at noon, the crew will set up a drive-thru style pop-up at 3300 Gravier Street to serve a free “Bag and Beer” lunch of pork sandwiches, chips, and beer “to help alleviate the burden our community is facing right now.”
A former local service industry employee has also created a way to directly support your favorite servers and bartenders while they’re out of work — the NOLA Virtual Tip Jar is a public Google doc started by Kristen Monteleone. It lists the Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal usernames of New Orleans-area service industry workers so people can donate to workers directly.
Finally, longtime seafood supplier New Orleans Seafood Co. is partnering with six of New Orleans’s top spots — Bourbon House, GW Fins, La Petit Grocery, Luke, Peche Seafood Grill and Station 6 — to host a series of curbside fish fries for the next few Fridays. A press release says fish plates will be available at each restaurant for $15 from 4:30 to 7 p.m., with each kitchen coming up with its own menu.
A portion of proceeds will go to crisis grants for Louisiana hospitality workers, an initiative of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation.
Do you know of a local fund or initiative to support New Orleans’s service industry? Let us know.