It’s been nearly four months since Hurricane Ida ravaged St. Charles Parish and surrounding South Louisiana communities. And while life is still far from normal for many residents, many local businesses owners are reporting that they are once again finding their stride in operational matters.
Jody Dantin, owner of Luling’s Best Life Nutrition, said her shop reopened on Sept. 20 after being closed for the hurricane.
“The community has been truly so supportive since we’ve reopened, despite so many having hardships of their own,” she said. “Our business was very fortunate to have no damage, but our heart goes out to each and every one who did. We have been very blessed to resume to our normal business, unlike so many.”
Dantin said reopening, however, was not without challenges.
“Getting our product was our biggest challenge after Hurricane Ida,” she said. “The nutrition shops around the local area pulled together and one of our club owners traveled out of state on several occasions to pick up products for everyone so we would be able to stay open. So many customers, lineman and workers in the area were so appreciative that we were open. During this trying time so many needed this energy to get them through the long days of doing demolition and working long hours, and it was our pleasure to be here to serve our community.”
Santos owner Buddy Boe said his restaurant was closed for four weeks following the storm, and that business has been slowly improving as the community improves.
“Our nights are busier than lunch shift, but we expect as more things return to normal, lunch will pick up,” he said.
As far as challenges related to the storm go, Boe said there is one particular thing that stands out.
“The cost of food has gotten insane after the storm on top of the already increasing prices associated with the global supply chain issues,” he said.
April Ball, who manages Taste of Tokyo in Destrehan, said her restaurant was able to reopen a few days after power was restored.
“Business since the storm has been amazing,” she said. “We reopened with a boom and it hasn’t stopped. We are tremendously grateful to the community for their unfailing support of our business when times seem to be the toughest. Some of the biggest challenges when we first reopened was being able to receive supplies and the inconsistency of adequate power and internet, but that quickly resolved itself and everything, for us, had been business as usual … or maybe I should say better than usual.”
Robin Lewis, owner of PJ’S Coffee in Destrehan, said the first few weeks of her shop being reopened after the storm were very slow – an issue she partially attributes to reduced open hours.
“We only recently started opening from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., which still isn’t our normal hours, but we are getting there,” she said. “Our biggest challenge is like every other business … we need help. This is one of the main reasons why we have not been able to open our regular hours.”
And while established businesses are regaining ground after the storm, there are at least two new parish businesses that have opened since Hurricane Ida.
Katelyn Montalbano recently opened The Bump & Bompany LLC – a store that she says has been four years in the making.
“I grew up here … I’m a resident of Destrehan,” she said. “When I first found out I was pregnant my mom put me in the car and said, ‘Let’s go shopping.’”
That trip to Destination Maternity in Metairie ended up being a memorable occasion, Montalbano said, and fueled her desire to eventually open a local shop for mothers.
The shop carries everything from candles and hats to children’s clothes and items for pregnant mothers, Montalbano said, adding that there is something for everyone in the shop – which is located at 1974 Ormond Blvd. Suite F.
“St. Charles Parish is my hometown and it’s the best community,” she said. “It’s a small town and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here. I’m getting so much support.”
Lynn Adams said her new business – The Table Café – is also getting an overload of community support.
The shop, located at 50 Wade Street in Luling, opened after Hurricane Ida.
“We are so busy,” Adams said. “It’s amazing how much the community has supported us. Our minds are blown on how well we’ve one. We never expected to be this welcomed and received.”