Local bar owners respond to tighter restrictions, curbside service

Updated: Jul. 12, 2020 at 9:52 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Governor’s executive order goes into effect at 12:01 am, Monday morning, requiring bars to solely offer curbside service, whether they serve food or not. This comes in addition to the statewide mask mandate.

But not all bar owners believe they can pull off limited service and they are worried about their employees.

“This is a kick in the stomach,” said Ken Grandpre, owner of GrandPre’s.

Once he locks up Sunday night, Grandpre doesn’t know when he’ll open again.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but even a day is going to hurt a lot for everybody,” Grandpre said.

Grandpre owns a bar by the same name on Rampart. He says his place is more of a neighborhood hangout.

To-go service doesn’t make sense, but to Grandpre, neither does the new mandate requiring it.

Governor John Bel Edwards admits not all bars are responsible for the spread of COVID-19, but says there’s nothing about the environment conducive to slowing it.

“You’re not wearing a mask. And when you drink you lose your inhibitions and when you’re listening to music, you have to speak louder to be heard. And you have to move closer to other people to hear them,” Governor Edwards said.

While Grandpre still disagrees, other French Quarter bars are taking the mandate in stride.

Like Grandpre, bar owner Ed Diaz says he and his team adapted every step of the way, ensuring social distance, moving to table service when the mayor made it a requirement, even enforced face coverings.

Those will soon be required, statewide, for those doing business or interacting with others outside, with few exceptions.

“We’ve kicked out a lot of people for not wearing masks. So, we did our part. It’s never been about making money during this pandemic, it’s been about keeping my employees employed,” Diaz said.

And Diaz will continue to give his workers shifts when he makes the switch to curbside.

It’s an option for many, but not all. Those unable to keep their doors open, worry most about what will happen to their employees once the extra CARES Act unemployment money runs out.

“The sad thing is they were willing to come back to work and now they’re going to be out of work again,” Grandpre said.

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