NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -The roar of tens of thousands of Who Dats will be noticeably absent from the Superdome for the Saints season opener, but that will not silence fans’ spirit any less.
“I’ve been a Saints fan ever since the brown paper bag era,” said Roy Southerland.
Any other visit to New Orleans, Southerland said he would try his best to get a seat in the Dome, but he is here after evacuating from Lake Charles and Hurricane Laura’s devastation. Southerland says now he is just grateful to be in Saints territory.
“I hope we all come together watch the game. I wish I could be there and physically watch it, but I’ll be happy to watch it from the hotel room,” said Southerland.
Knowing fans will be looking for a place to watch the game, restaurants are also preparing for an unconventional game day.
“This year is going to be really different. We’re trying to keep everyone as safe as possible, so we’re changing up everything,” said Cooter Brown’s owner-manager, Jeff O’Bryon.
COVID-19 forced Cooter Brown’s to turn their tavern into a restaurant. O’Bryon says they make their money for the year on Saints season, and with only 50% capacity allowed fans will need to make a deposit for a reservation.
“I’m calling it a reservation fee essentially you’re buying a gift card and with that gift card you can spend that day or not spend it at all and do whatever you want,” said O’Bryon.
“We’ll be turning the entire restaurant at 3:15 and hopefully seating a whole new restaurant at 3:25 for the Saints kick off, so I’m not quite sure how that’s gonna work out logistically ... it’s the only way I can figure out for us to have a chance this year because we have to make some money for Saints this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Walk-On’s in Jefferson Parish is starting out on a first-come, first-served approach.
“There will be no one entering the building until we’re ready to see you just to make sure there’s no one floating around or breaking the social distancing rules, so will be doing our greeting and hosting outside people won’t walk in until it’s time to sit down,” said General Manager Marshall Hahn.
Hahn’s advice to fans: come early, be patient, and tip big regardless of a win or lose.
“As long as people are here and making purchases we’re happy to have them,” said Hahn.
Both businesses say this first game day will be an experiment, and their respective systems could change in the future.
“I’m anxious I’m excited I’m a Saints fan so I’m excited for that, but this is going to be different for us,” said Hahn.
The game day experience will be different, no doubt. But as long as the Saints pull out a win, Southerland says they will be greatful.
“Just keep your head up and everything will be all right. At the end of the day we’re still in Louisiana, we’re still close to home, the Saints play on Sunday and I get to watch my team play and hopefully they pull out a win,” said Southerland.
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