Frenchmen Street businesses share economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions

Frenchmen Street economic impacts from pandemic

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The pandemic has impacted the local music scene in New Orleans but what about the businesses who rely on the music to bring in customers?

On Frenchmen Street, a street known for its live music and lively crowd, it’s anything but on Wednesday night. It’s quiet.

David Zalkind is the owner of Frenchmen Art and Books. It’s something he calls an “accidental book store” among the music venues that reign on Frenchmen street.

And his business has taken a hit from the pandemic with losing more than half of business he’d normally see on this street.

“Each month gets a little bit better. If you asked me earlier if this is sustainable, no. I’m working through loans and you know, believing that it’s going to get better,” Zalkind said.

For Royal Sushi and Bar, just a block off Frenchmen Street, Owner Michael Chen is singing a similar song.

“Basically at night, it’s just like that.. very quiet. Usually, it’s packed with people walking around,” Chen said. “Right now, we just making minimum, and but we do have a lot of locals supporting us. They do take out.”

Both businesses, who rely on the foot traffic Frenchmen usually brings during normal times, are now seeing more locals exploring the neighborhood.

“People are breaking through... they’re finding ways to make it happen. So it’s very quiet during the week Monday through Thursday. It’s just a ghost town,” Zalkind said.

A ghost town of businesses just finding ways to adapt and supporting one another.

“Everybody is digging deep into their pockets just to keep it going and hoping that it’s going to get better,” Zalkind said.

For now, they’ll try to keep the doors open and wait for the music to help bring back the business.

And when it comes to supporting the arts, businesses are getting creative by bringing local singers and musicians to the balconies, so folks can come out with lawn chairs here on the street to enjoy the music.

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