Back to Phase 2 – how it will affect local restaurants and bars

A Southern Latte Café customer waits for her order.

Last week Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that he was moving the state back from Phase 3 into Phase 2 of coronavirus-handling measures, as the state experiences a surge in COVID-19 virus cases.

The move most notably changes the occupancy restrictions for many establishments, including bars and restaurants.

While the mandate states that all restaurants, coffee shops and cafes can operate up to 50% occupancy with social distancing and masks mandated, it is a more complicated scenario for bars.

For parishes with greater than a 5% test positivity rate for two consecutive weeks, the bars must close to indoor consumption but can allow outdoor seating up for up to 50 people. For parishes with a 5% or below test positivity rate for two consecutive weeks, indoor consumption up to 25% occupancy seated and spaced out is allowed.

Mariano’s Italian Eatery Owner Jacqueline Dufrene-Diaz Davis said her restaurant will remain open under the new guidelines, but that she is concerned that the servers at her restaurant may not make as much money since there will be less tables and possibly an increase in wait times.

“Business has been doing good, but on a busy night all the tables are full and people are already waiting to be seated,” she said. “So now that we’re decreasing to 50 percent, I don’t know if they’ll be willing to wait longer.”

Randy Muller, owner of Southern Latte Café, said he also intends to keep his dining room open with social distancing enforced and tables spaced out 6 feet apart.

“We are closely monitoring the cases per day and are in constant communication with our parish president,” he said. “I’m sure if we have to shut down our dining room it will impact our business substantially. Our community has already seen numerous businesses go out of business, so as of now we will follow regulations.”

Over at Taste of Tokyo, manager April Ball said the dining room will stay open with the 50% occupancy until it is no longer feasible to keep the dining room open.

“If that happens, then we would close the dining room and stay open strictly for take-out orders,” she said. “Adjustments will need to be made for Phase 2, but at this point everyone just needs to be able to go with the flow.”

Ball said while the business’ revenue at 75% occupancy wasn’t what it was before the pandemic, it was enough to sustain the restaurant.

Herbert DeLeon, manager at Coffee & Norco, agreed that the reduce capacity will greatly hurt his business.

“It will hurt us with the amount of customers we can hold, but the community has really rallied to support us during this time,” he said.

John Ehrlicher, who owns Boomerang’s Bar in Destrehan, said he’ll have to said he’s not quite sure what his plan will be if he’s forced to operate strictly outdoors.

The restrictions surrounding the move back to modified Phase 2 are set to expire on Dec. 23.


About Monique Roth 919 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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