New Orleans restaurants adjusting to restrictions, others closing

Sign posted outside of Irene's in the French Quarter.
Sign posted outside of Irene's in the French Quarter.(wvue)
Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The owners of Barrow’s Catfish say before coronavirus, take-out made-up 60 percent of their business. So, adapting to a new business model became easy.

"Our customers are used to coming and picking up food," said Deirdre Barrow Johnson.

Barrow Johnson and her husband Kenneth Johnson say they have no plans to reopen the dining area.

“We’re making sure we’re moving very carefully,” Kenneth Johnson said. “The dining area now has become more of a production facility for us.”

While Barrow’s continues on, other restaurants close. Just three weeks after reopening, the owners of Irene’s post on Facebook they will close the restaurant until August.

With today's announcement of tightened restrictions and a heavy heart... Irene's will be closing down the restaurant...

Posted by Irene's on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Across the street, Ed’s Seafood is boarded up with St. Patrick Day decorations outside. The owners note, their other restaurants across the metro area are open.

Meantime on Magazine Street, Gris-Gris owner and Chef Eric Cook says the restaurant will close it’s doors again after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Cook says he’s on an emotional roller coaster and shared his journey on social media.

As of now, Cook says he is focusing on his family and keeping his employees safe. Although he says federal programs are not truly helping businesses like his.

“The support that was coming for hospitality was all in lieu of you opening,” Cook said. “There was no loans for you to go, ‘hey here’s a bunch of money don’t open, take care of your family and make sure you’re safe.’”

He’s criticizing leaders at all levels.

“Leadership is about making hard decisions,” he said. “If we have to lockdown then let’s lockdown and let’s get it done sooner than later because people’s lives are at stake.”

The chef says he doesn’t know if the state should return to phase one or lockdown but he says a decision needs to be made one way or another.

“We want to work. We want to get back to work. It’s what we do,” Cook said. But emphasizes safety is his priority.

"I am not going to sacrifice my family's lives to just have to fight to be open. I won't and no one should have to," Cook said.

He is determined to make sure his employees are safe and when asked about reopening, he’s not sure. “I’m emotional. I’m exhausted. I need to regroup.”

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