Amanda Elfer been asked the question many times since Hurricane Ida: “Are you guys coming back?”
The truth is, for Elfer and her family, that was never a question at all. St. Rose Tavern was never going to be down long, and on Monday, it opened its doors once again after months of hiatus and many post-Ida repairs.
“Never … never,” said Elfer, whose grandmother established the tavern in the 1950s. “It’s not any time for quitting. You’ve got to get back to it.”
To walk into its doors, one would never know the business has spent the last several weeks on the sidelines, with a healthy number of patrons making an eager return to enjoy their favorite tavern meals.
But it indeed took some time to get the doors opened once more. Elfer estimated 45 percent of the building was damaged by Ida. Most of the restrooms were demolished, the roof caved in upon them. The floors are redone and the paint freshened up.
“Some stuff to make it look new,” Elfer said.
Beyond making the essential business repairs, the family had to deal with home damage, which Elfer said was more extensive than the tavern’s. That naturally divided their attention.
“We were finally able to set a date and stick with it to reopen,” Elfer said. “It all only makes you want to work harder to get back to what you used to do. My family, we don’t know anything but this. We were always coming back … we’re back in our element now, in the kitchen, getting things going.”
Elfer’s mother Pat took the helm of the business in the 1980s, and these days, Elfer and her sister run the day-to-day operations, with Mom still guiding things from a distance. The sisters comprise the third generation to manage the family business.
There were some challenges to reopening. After nearly six months away, the family resumed matters only to find much has changed: costs have gone up, and some items have been difficult to get a hold of, including some of the tavern’s traditional appetizer items.
“Some things are off the menu for the time being, until we find a different avenue of getting those,” Elfer said. “You’re kind of getting thrown back into everything after six months away, so getting back into the routine and adapting to some changes have been the hardest part.”
The only real restaurant activity during that long break came just after Ida, when the business sold low-priced plate lunches that became a welcome treat, at a time very little was open and options were sparse.
“We’d start around 10:30 and be sold out by 11,” Elfer said. “It was just our way of getting our community fed like we normally do, but in a way affordable for everyone to handle.”
She’s very happy to be back to feeding her community once more.
“It’s a family business, but our family really includes our customers. And we needed to get them back in here to keep creating those memories,” Elfer said.