Over the past few days, a number of notable New Orleans restaurants have announced that they will close their doors again, citing an ever-changing set of required operating procedures related to COVID-19 and an inability to establish a workable model during the city’s historically slow summer months.
Ian McNulty at NOLA.com reports that a handful of the city’s top restaurants — Gris-Gris, Carrollton Market, Irene’s Cuisine, Marjie’s Grill, and Piece of Meat — are taking summer hiatuses, in some cases for a month, the rest of summer, or for an as yet undetermined length of time. While it’s common for New Orleans restaurants to take a break for a week or two in July or August when there’s typically a drop in business, the spots listed all cite reasons directly related to the pandemic and its impact on restaurants.
Jason Goodenough, the chef and owner of Uptown fine-dining stalwart Carrollton Market, considered the drain that limited operations has already had on the restaurant’s finances with the prospect of an even slower July and August. “I think my money will be better spent in September or October when there’s at least a little chance,” he told NOLA.com. “Right now it feels like throwing it in the trash and lighting it on fire.” Piece of Meat, Mid City’s widely-acclaimed butcher shop and restaurant, has also closed with a plan to return in September. Co-owner Leighann Smith said that staff agreed that the stress of operating under current circumstances — including dealing with customers not wearing masks — was not worth the money coming in.
Marcus Jacobs of standout newcomer Marjie’s Grill, which is taking a summer break, said with spiking cases and subsequent restrictions, “every week you’re explaining a new set of operating procedures, trying to find a way forward; you get whiplash from doing that.” The newest change, that bar seating will be prohibited at restaurants and bars starting Saturday, prompted the owner of Irene’s in the French Quarter to announce via Facebook he would close down again until restrictions are further loosened.
Then there are the closures that follow workers testing positive for COVID-19. Restaurants in Louisiana are not required to close or provide information to the public when an employee tests positive, but it’s a show of transparency diners should appreciate. Some in New Orleans have closed for a deep cleaning and to ensure the negative status of other employees, like La Petite Grocery did last month and Willa Jean is doing right now.
Others, like Magazine Street bakery Levee Baking Co. and LGD dinner destination Gris-Gris, have announced that they will take a longer pause after receiving such information. When she learned a customer and acquaintance tested positive for the virus, Levee Baking Co. owner Christina Balzebre wrote in a Facebook post that she would close the bakery for July and August, and try “to shift my thinking to value my quality of life over my business.”
Eric Cook reopened the beloved Gris-Gris for dine-in service on July 1 — and only a week later announced that it would close indefinitely after a staff member tested positive for the virus. “As you know, we’ve been trying to fight the good fight for the last few months,” Cook wrote on Instagram while announcing the closure. “We don’t know what our future is. We are still waiting on clear communication from our leadership, both locally and on the national level.”
Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at email@example.com.
- Why are more New Orleans restaurants closing? Coronavirus spike, money, face mask fights [NOLA.COM]
- New Orleans Will Tighten Restrictions at Bars and Restaurants Starting Saturday [ENOLA]
- Governments Have an Obligation to Close Restaurants After Workers Test Positive for COVID-19 [EAT]
- Acclaimed La Petite Grocery Closes Temporarily After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 [ENOLA]