It’s a good thing New Orleans prides itself on devotion to local restaurants. And it’s a good thing our restaurant people have proven so tough and adaptable. That’s about all we have left now to get the restaurants we love through the coronavirus fight.
Most restaurants believe they need help to survive the shutdowns, and what they fear will be a slow rebuilding. This industry needs support on a level fitting the disruption it has been made to shoulder in the name of public health. It hasn’t shown up yet.
Special loans from the Small Business Administration were supposed to be one lifeline. That loan program ran out of money last week, but not before some big restaurant chains sapped it for multi-million dollars payments that could have helped hundreds of truly small businesses hang on.
Restaurant advocates are now pushing for more funds and for a different format to make it more helpful for restaurants, which can’t possibly predict when they’ll resume anything like normal business.
In fact, just about the only certainty here is the tenacity of our local restaurant community, and the high value we as New Orleanians draw from them.
In hard times, we know local businesses are the first to step up and are the last to give up. That's because for restaurant people this is their calling and their lives. They pour themselves into it, which is why their creations are so gratifying to us.
As customers, we don’t just conduct transactions but complete the circuit of the relationships that make restaurants worth fighting for in the first place. We still can, even now.
Some help is just a meal away, since takeout keeps some kitchens working. Grassroots support efforts are growing and advocacy at the highest levels might just help get them the right government support.
It may be a long time before we can sit again in our favorite restaurants. But right now though, we can stand with them.