Some businesses struggle to stay afloat as pandemic continues

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:34 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some business owners worry they won't be able to hold on for much longer.

Coronella Porche says her cafe on Baronne Street stayed open throughout the pandemic, but business hasn't pick back up to how it was before the pandemic.

"Gradually, I'd get one more customer, or on a Friday, I'd have maybe five customers, but it never got to the point where it was 10, 15, 20 customers," Porche said.

She says most of her customers come from out of town.

"When we went into the shutdown, that took away all of the tourists, or tourism in this area. All the travelers. Do no one's staying in the Airbnbs, it's affecting my business terribly," Porche said.

Porche says she took out PPP loans, which only lasted her two weeks.

"You're trying to get your people back, but they're afraid of the virus. They're afraid to come back to work. I was only able to get one of my employees to come back," Porche said.

While Porche says her business is struggling, GNO Inc. President Michael Hecht says the majority of restaurants in New Orleans aren't shuttering.

"You are seeing a lot of restaurants that have been able to pivot to doing more curbside delivery, more take out, more outdoor seating that they're managing to make it through. They're not necessarily thriving, but they're managing to get some cash flowing," Hecht said.

However, as COVID-19 cases surge, he says businesses aren't out of the woods yet.

"Most businesses are taking every week at a time trying to figure out the balance between how much they wnt to invest in reopening versus preserving their cash, but there's no doubt we're going to have more weeks and probably some more months of some challenging times," Hecht said.

Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission President Jerry Bologna also says most businesses are holding up so far.

"We've been lucky thus far, we have not seen any sort of large scale closures. I think our businesses are doing what they do best, they're innovating and they're trying to operate leaner and meaner at this time," Bologna said.

He says businesses face increased costs with cleaning and sanitizing, amongst other obstacles.

"There are supply chain issues, and then when you add on top of that the capacity, it has made it extremely difficult for a number of businesses," Bologna said.

Porche says she's only averaging two customers a day, and isn't sure what the future holds.

"I can't continue to pay the insurance, I can't continue to pay the taxes, and the expenses just go on and on," Porche said.

The State Treasury Department will launch a grant program in mid-July, where businesses that haven’t gotten funding can receive up to 15,000 dollars.

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