Semolina, other local restaurants feel COVID-19 effects

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After a statewide decision, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the closures of dine in options at restaurants, due to the increase of coronavirus cases. This left restaurants to only operate to go orders. Semolina in Metairie is just one restaurant adjusting to the change. ANUM SIDDIQUI/Pack News

Anum Siddiqui, Pack News

Earlier this week, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the closure of dine-in options at restaurants, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, leaving restaurants only able to fulfill to-go orders. Semolina in Metairie is just one restaurant adjusting to the change.

“People were walking up through the parking lot, placing to-go orders as well, bring it out to the car, anything we could do to help,” said Semolina bartender, Eric Swiller. 

This change has many in the industry laid off or furloughed. For TasteBuds Management, they have around 500 employees on furlough.

“My first thing was ‘Oh my God, we have all these employees, what are we going to do?’” said Greg Reggio, founder of TasteBuds Management. “Everyone realizes this this going to be painful for everyone.”

The company is only keeping a few employees who are trained to take to go orders.

“It was rough. I did not think at the age of 22 I would be filing for unemployment or even furloughed,” said Semolina server Hannah Juneau. 

TasteBuds is concerned restaurants may shut down completely during this pandemic, but in the meantime they are ready to serve the city.

“If it gets too crowded, placing orders inside, we can take our parking lots and do curbside delivery,” said Reggio. 

While most of the take out orders are being placed outside, inside Semolina is taking their own safety precautions. The employees have to wash their hands every 30 minutes and change the sanitation water every hour.

Eric Swiller who’s been with the companys for 13 years, is happy to work even though things are a little different. 

“It’s just seems weird. It’s empty, the lights in the dining room are off, we only have lights on up here by the bar to make it a little welcoming” said Swiller. 

As of right now all restaurants don’t know how long take out only will last since the COVID-19 cases in New Orleans continue to rise.

For more COVID-19 updates, visit here.