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Where Y’Eat: After Epic Restaurant K-Paul’s Closes, What Can Save Others?

Ian McNulty
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, founded by chef Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans.

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen made enormous contributions to the restaurant world. Perhaps now, even after it has served it last blackened fish, it can add one more to the list.

Maybe the closing of this epic restaurant will finally extinguish any doubts about the stakes at hand in the coronavirus crisis and our own roles in the fight against it.

The longer the crisis lasts, the greater the toll it will take. Of course that starts with lives lost to the deadly disease. It also reaches into the economy and the culture, the intersection where our restaurants sit.

These are confusing times. Restaurants are back open, cooking delicious food again and rolling out the hospitality.

Yet business as usual remains a distant fantasy. Restaurants face the financial peril of a devastated economy and the health risks of simply being open in the pandemic.

Some restaurants that made it through the first few months of the pandemic are closing now as cases rise and the prospect of a finish line recedes further into some drifting future.

Restaurants need support on a high level, with funding to remain viable tomorrow if they need to temporarily close today. And they need support for us, every day, not just as customers but as a community helping to slow the virus spread.

Restaurants need people to mask up. Even if you aren’t visiting restaurants right now, this tactic diminishes virus spread and hastens the time businesses can return. The same goes with schools, sports and anything else we’re yearning to bring back.

If we pretend that gradual economic reopening means we’re back to normal, if we cling to some notion that face masks are controversial, then we are taking things we should value in this community for granted.

The end of K-Paul’s should send a message as loud as butter hitting a hot skillet. Anything we take for granted in this fight is lost.


Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.

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