Tchefuncte Restaurant facing COVID Phase 2 challenges

Tchefuncte River restaurants

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - This is not the best of times to try and operate a restaurant but it’s full steam ahead on the Tchefuncte River. Two new restaurants are moving in on a prime spot In spite of COVID challenges.

With a commanding view over The Tchefuncte river momentum builds inside of Tchefuncte’s restaurant.

“We’re really excited to show the public what we’ve been doing over the past year and a half,” said culinary director Mike Gottlieb.

The restaurant, on the former site of ‘Friends’, has an expansive view of the Tchefuncte and will employ 60 people who are now being trained, with COVID protection masks part of the new uniforms.

“Everyone is just concerned about it and we are taking all the precautions necessary,” said hostess Jenna Schmidt.

Restaurant profit margins are often slim and are now even slimmer since the governor extended phase 2, operators can only serve at 50 percent capacity.

“It is a fact of life that we have to deal with and we will accept whatever the mandate is and be happy to comply,” Gottlieb said.

They have already had a little practice. For six weeks a more casual second restaurant, called ‘The Anchor’ has operated downstairs.

Tchefuncte’s, the more formal restaurant upstairs opens in a week and a half.

“The restaurant itself is American regional with worldly influence and a nod to Louisiana,” Gottlieb said.

This restaurant offers something few others can claim, a new drive-up dock space for any of the dozens of boats that ply the river on any given day.

“The dock was extended about 80 feet into the river and we have 25 to 30 boat slips depending on the size of the boat,” Gottlieb said.

Restaurant operators have been able to fill most positions but there are challenges.

“Certain positions like waitstaff because of the stipends were harder to get than cooks,” Gottlieb said.

But most of the staff is now in place.

Under Phase 2 restrictions patrons will have to wear their masks when moving around in a restaurant but may take them off when seated.

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