Restaurants counting on Mother’s Day for much needed shot in the arm

Restaurants hope for big Mother's Day while operating safely

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WAFB) - Mother’s Day is widely recognized as the busiest day of the year for restaurants, but those restaurants are still restricted, even with patio dining now an option.

“We’re just coming out here to hang out on the patio, get out the house, and eat us some good food,” said Becky Walker.

It was the first time since the stay-at-home orders were issued that Walker and her husband got to eat out, even if that meant just sitting on the patio with their to-go orders.

“It does feel more normal, especially to be able to have a conversation with my husband that is not on the couch or at the table or inside always, but yes, this is more normalcy than we enjoy,” said Walker.

It has been a busy week since restaurants have been able to open their patios, along with their ongoing restricted delivery, carryout and drive-thru services. Restaurant owners in Denham Springs say this one week alone has made a noticeable difference.

“It has only been about 20% of our normal sales, so this at least has allowed us to increase our sales since they allowed us to open up outside,” said Scott Carlton, owner of Sarita’s Grill & Cantina.

“Well now, it’s one of our forms of income. Government is allowing us to be outside and people sit down and eat,” said owner of Duke’s Seafood & Steakhouse, Duke Landry

Landry says business is down 60% since the onset of the stay-at-home orders. Plus, he says nearly 50 employees are out of a job while the two Duke’s locations are operating with limited services. It’s why they’re doing everything required to stay open, such as measuring and moving tables so they’re 10 feet apart and cleaning and sanitizing hourly.

At Sarita’s, Carlton’s entire dining room has pretty much been moved into the parking lot. Both owners are hoping this weekend will still provide what has historically been a big day in terms of sales.

“That is the busiest day of the year, Mother’s Day,” said Landry.

“Mother’s Day could make or break whether we are able to pay our rent for June and July,” said Carlton.

Carlton says the federal Paycheck Protection Program helped pay the past few months’ rent, but he and Landry say they need this shot in the arm this weekend, even if they are limited to only 25% capacity and patio seating.

In fact, just seeing people fill the patio makes it hard for Landry to hold back tears.

“The whole restaurant business is a whole other animal than it used to be. People used to go out now and then to eat, maybe meet up with someone or something, but now it is a way of life. It’s a social outing,” said Landry.

“They [the people] are why we do it, it really is,” said Landry.

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