Local Restaurants Surviving Covid

After being nine months into the pandemic, local restaurants are still struggling to stay afloat.

Brealauna Leassear, Pack News

Food, culture, and nightlife are some of the things that draw people to New Orleans, however, they are among the hardest-hit industries affected by the coronavirus. 

Through many setbacks, the restaurant and tourism industries are determined to make the best of their situation. 

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry, more than any other industry in the nation, has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. And according to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s “State of the Tourism Industry Quarterly Report,” the restaurant and tourism lost almost $3.2 billion.  

Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar, known for their popular oyster happy hour menu, have faced troubles in the past. Back in 2019, the restaurant was forced to pay over $230,000 in overtime back pay and damages to over 200 employees.

The restaurant remained in hot water as they were forced to fire full-time employees due to the lack of funds caused by the closure of the restaurant at the start of the pandemic. 

“When the time came that unemployment ran lower and the full-time workers wanted to come back, a lot of them were fired,” This was because of either hesitation in working as a service industry employee during a pandemic for health reasons, or job cuts that the restaurant couldn’t afford with limited capacity,” said Emma Carsella a server at Superior Seafood for more than two years.

Once the restaurant was able to reopen, employees were required to work longer hours to make up for the missing staff.

“It was hard in the beginning,” said Carsella.

Carsella described working in a restaurant during a pandemic as more stressful since full-time employees work more hours.

“When we were shut down for strictly carry out orders many of the full-time workers worked hard and long hours during those couple months,” said Carsella. “And once dine-in service came to limited capacity, full-time employees often took advantage of the amount of income with no work.”

On Friday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters in a press conference that the state will begin to move into phase three. However, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell also told reporters that even though the state will move into phase three New Orleans will remain in phase two. 

With this new order in place, restaurants are now allowed to increase capacity to 75%. 

“Since restaurants can increase their capacity, this is going to give us a lot more business now. I mean yeah we have been busy lately since more people are coming back to New Orleans and we can have happy hour again,” Carsella said. “But we’ll be able to make a lot more money as a whole.”