Prominent New Orleans businesses give notice they will have to extend furloughs to hundreds of employees

Restaurant and hotel lay offs amid COVID-19

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -7 prominent New Orleans businesses have notified the State they plan to permanently let go or extend temporary furloughs to hundreds of employees. That notification is required by law and is called a "WARN Notice." The move will impact close to 1500 workers.

That includes more than 600 at the Hilton Riverside, 240 at Commander’s Palace, 124 at the Roosevelt Hotel, 250 permanent positions for the American Queen Steamboat, 30 workers at the Hyatt Regency, more than 2 dozen employees at the Wyndham Avenue Plaza on St. Charles Avenue, and 150 at Arnaud’s Restaurant.

"It is unfortunate because I have talked to so many of the General Managers and owners and operators of these restaurants and hotels, and, I know that they are devastated to have to share this news. They had all hoped they would be able to bring back their workers that had been furloughed and I think they continue to hope that will happen in the not so distant future," said Walt Leger with New Orleans & Company.

The Owner of Arnaud’s, Archie Casbarian, points out many of the furloughs happened when the pandemic started in March. And, the most recent notice to the State is that those furloughs will have to be extended past 6 months. But, he says the restaurant hopes to hire them back once they resume normal operations.

"Arnaud's will be back and we along with other restaurants and hotels and businesses in New Orleans are working very hard to get back open and get back to life just like all the citizens of the city, but, this is basically just notice, just to make sure, in an abundance of caution, just in case it takes us a little bit longer to do, so that we are following the letter of the law, but our intention is to bring all of our folks back as soon as possible," said Casbarian.

In a statement, Ti Martin, the co-proprietor of Commander’s Palace,said: “The WARN act requires us by law to inform our employees that we do not anticipate re-hiring them 6 months after their lay off this past March. In the present situation we cannot guarantee when we will be open, therefore because of the law, we needed to communicate that to our past employees. We are continuously finding creative ways to keep as many of our team members working, including our Family Meal and Street Food to-go menu, our nationwide shipping through Goldbelly, and our weekly wine and cheese “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” parties that continue to bring the community together for a rollicking good time. And in the meantime, we look so forward to our favorite thing to do - serve you.”

The American Queen Steamboat Company said:”The coronavirus has had an incredible impact on the travel industry at large, including our operations at American Queen Steamboat Company. While navigating any layoff process is incredibly difficult, it is our intention to rebound from this crisis stronger and ultimately position our business and our world class team to excel when we begin to resume our operations once again.”

A Hilton Spokesperson said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel, The Roosevelt and Hilton New Orleans Riverside have had to extend the furlough of their Team Members.”

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