Jefferson Parish restaurant owners eager for Phase One, despite limitations

Restaurants, bars serving food eager for Phase One reopening.
Restaurants, bars serving food eager for Phase One reopening.(WVUE)
Updated: May. 12, 2020 at 5:48 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Many restaurants and their customers are eager for Phase one to begin. Though strict rules and guidelines will be in place, many tell us it's another step towards normal.

"We can't wait for this place to really re-open," said Swamp Room bartender Victoria Exsterstein.

If Jefferson parish heeds the governor's planned phase one approach, it can reopen as soon as Friday but with limitations.

"These businesses will operate with maximum occupancy of 25% and must practice social distancing. That 25% is so we know they can practice social distancing when they open," Governor John Bel Edwards explained.

Governor Edwards says that 25-percent includes both customers and employees. He says there should be enough square footage in the establishment so people can maintain six feet of distance and tables of different household can be spaced 10 feet apart. He says the square footage does not include patios or outdoor seating, though social distancing is still required. The governor also noted standing, even in bars or breweries that serve food, won't be allowed.

Restaurant owners like Vincent Catalanotto don't mind the restrictions.

"That's fine with me. I have two private rooms and can seat a lot of people in there with distancing and we'll still have to keep the to-go orders coming because some people still won't want to come out," said Catalanotto.

Yet, Catalanotto is doing fine as it is. Since the shut-down, he says 5,000 people have picked up Vincent's to-go meals.

He even recently gave his employees bonuses.

"(Sunday), it was nonstop from one to six," Catalanotto said.

Fox 8 spoke to several other restaurant owners and managers. Drago’s and Acme Oyster House are waiting for further clarification but are both excited for the prospect. Los Jefes’ manager says they’re going to wait a few more weeks until the have a solid plan and know everything’s safe.

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