Baton Rouge restaurant faces sales decline following historic flooding

Baton Rouge restaurant faces sales decline following historic flooding
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some restaurant owners are trying to cope as the flood recovery has them dealing with something that could have a ripple effect.

Eating out right now is not priority for many people. That is why Y'Zell Williamson, the manager at Capital City Grill, said the domino effect is coming back to the restaurant, especially at a time when summer is winding down and the lunch and dinner crowds return.

Williamson was working double duty Wednesday, in the kitchen and as a manager. That's because he said they have had to cut back on hourly staff.

"Our lunch room right now is pretty thin and it's 12:10 p.m.," Williamson said.

Usually, he said the dining room is full and there's a line to get a table, but after the flooding, sales have been cut in half.

"They don't have the extra income to expend anymore right now for something like eating out. Eating out is considered somewhat of a luxury now. It's not part of the everyday routine like it has been," Williamson said.

"It's a luxury now to come after what all I've been through in the last couple of weeks," said Courtney Mitchell, who was taking a lunch break at Capital City Grill.

Like thousands of people in Louisiana, Mitchell flooded out, leaving his home in Central when water started creeping in.

"It came up to my waist right and around the corner from my home, it was to the roof. I managed to catch two boats out. They were taking boats out," Mitchell said.

Now, he's gutting and rebuilding a home and does not have the disposable income to spend on eating out as often as he used to.

Because the dining room at Capital City Grill is rather empty, waiters are taking a major hit since they work mainly on tips. They normally get between $50 to $60 a day, but are now down to getting $20 to $30.

Williamson said the restaurant and staff stand ready when people want to step aside from gutting and rebuilding to celebrate special days. On a daily basis though, he said they're doing their part in providing some sense of normalcy to people like Mitchell.

"It is nice to be out, nice to be at a place like this. I'm just enjoying the moment right now," Mitchell said.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner.

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