Each week, there’s news of more well known New Orleans restaurants reopening, from Dooky Chase’s to Commander’s Palace. And each time you can practically hear New Orleans food lovers cheering them on. It’s natural. We root for our own, and we support them through the slow summers here and rally for them when some calamity strikes.
But as the drumbeat of reopenings continue and the dangers of the coronavirus crisis stretch on, we have to remember how different this struggle is from all the others, and what’s at stake.
In this crisis, restaurants are up against unknowns that reach from the daily public health risks of the virus to the financial peril of reopening in an economy missing its major drivers.
This week marked six months since restaurants were first closed in New Orleans as part of the coronavirus fight. The path since then has been marked by dips and spikes in case numbers, changing rules and restrictions, changing advice and advisories, dire projections and constant, vexing questions about the future.
The restaurant sector is not getting the help it needs nationally. There are proposals out there before Congress for industry-specific support. They’re prospects are clear as mud right now.
About all our restaurant people can count on is their own ingenuity and perseverance, and the networks of support that have always stitched this town together and that are being recast in new ways today.
Restaurants nationwide are in trouble. In New Orleans the catastrophe is threatening a sector ingrained as part of the city’s identity, from bucket list dining destinations to neighborhood po-boy shops.
That means when we see our favorite restaurants reopening now it does not signal some kind of victory. It simply means they’re climbing back in the ring for another round. But at least there’s this: New Orleans people are in their corner.