COVID-19: Some of New Orleans most famous restaurants adapt to new normal

Restaurants learning to adapt to take-out only regulations

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some of New Orleans’ most famous chefs must adapt to a new normal. As Governor John Bel Edwards ordered bars and restaurants closed, those businesses now offer curbside pickup.

Famous New Orleans Chef Frank Brigsten of Brigsten’s Restaurant will tell you no one is more resilient than New Orleanians. He said Hurricane Katrina and this pandemic are comparable in one sense.

“That is, what do you do when your whole life is pulled out from underneath you? How do you handle that? Everything that you take for granted is maybe not there anymore. Unless you’ve been through something like that, you don’t get it,” said Brigsten.

Chefs and restaurant owners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski are feeling it too. They said they have had to make sizable layoffs. And, like Brigsten, to stay in business, they’re now offering curbside pickup at their restaurants including Herbsaint, Cochon, Butcher, Peche, Gianna, and La Boulangerie.

“We’re working on takeout everywhere, trying to adapt to the situation we’re in and just keep moving, doing everything we can to take care of the people that are hurting and take care of the people who are here working. It’s just tough, it’s just so overwhelming. I’ve been through Katrina, the oil spill, the recession and everything else, this is times a thousand, except it’s sunny,” said Link.

“The difference is we don’t know what the end point is, the hurricane ended, we started rebuilding, people knew that they were ready to come back, this is, we don’t have a definite end point, we’re doing what we can to try to come out of this and still have a business and get everybody back to work,” said Stryjewski, Chef and Owner of The Link Group.

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The iconic Commander’s Palace is also shifting from dine in to take out.

“The menu is going to be changing every single day, you can sit back and have grilled Blue Fin tuna, fresh, dry-aged smoked duck, we’ve got pecan crusted Gulf fish with champagne poached crab meat.We have a little of something, of everything, so you can sit down in your own house and at least, a little slice of normalcy,” said Commander’s Palace Executive Chef Tory McPhail.

The Link Restaurant Group says they’re planning for the worst for two months and they’re hoping it will be less. As for Brigsten, he says in his more than 30 years in business, he’s never seen anything like this.

“I’ve said this so many times lately, I want my life back, I want my normal life back, I don’t like this kind of adventure, I like boring normal, good days, where we go to work, make people happy and go home, that’s what I want and we’re going to get there,” said Brigsten.

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