Coronavirus impact felt in restaurant industry


With restrictions being placed on New Orleans area businesses to slow the spread of Covid-19, restaurants have had to adjust their business models.

Because of this, classic New Orleans establishments like Commander's Palace are now offering take out and delivery service as they aren't allowed to serve customers in their buildings in order to comply with social distancing practices.

"What we do is food and hospitality and for us not to have an outlet to do that in is very difficult for us," said Lally Brennan, co-proprietor of Commander's Palace. "So we said 'well we gotta do something!' So we said let's try it. Let's try food to go. It's something that we never said we would do at Commander's but we said well why not."

The virus has infected hundreds in the New Orleans area and claimed lives. It's also had a devastating effect on the restaurant industry as many have had to layoff employees.

These adjustments with the goal of surviving the economic effects of the coronavirus, many in the industry say. 

"Like a lot of other restaurants in the city, we did have to make some substantial staff layoffs," Peter Gordon, general manager of Sofia, said. "One of the things that we are really focused on doing is trying to protect the business as a whole so that we can make it through this time and hopefully get everybody’s jobs back as soon as possible." 

Stephen Stryjewski, chef and co-owner of the Link Restaurant Group which features Cochon, Cochon Butcher and Pêche Seafood Grill among its brands said  the groups establishments have had to do layoffs as well in order to keep the businesses running.

He said in addition to adjusting the business model, the restaurants have been looking for ways to aid the employees that have been let go.

"We're currently trying to figure out how we can continue to feed these people and provide for them while we wait to get them back to work," he said.

Sofia has also been looking to aid members of the service industry and is offering a family meal for $4 a person from 4-to-6 p.m. daily.

Local restauranteurs are hoping to get these employees back quickly and help them survive this period.  

"Much like a hurricane, once the hurricane passes and we're able to put the pieces back together, we need our employees," Commander's Palace executive chef Tory McPhail said. "We need those great cooks. We need those captains to help us reopen our hospitality functions all across the city. 

Take a look at a list of restaurants operating HERE.