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Parade route businesses working to adapt to Carnival 2022 changes

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s obvious this year’s Carnival season is going to be very different, but a lot of businesses along the parade route are trying to figure out just how different.

From one end of St. Charles to another, the story is the same.

“When you take a year off, you forget how much work goes into being a bar-restaurant on the parade route,” Eileen Matuszewski with The Avenue Pub said.

“To not have done it last year, it makes it even harder because you’re kind of looking back at the books that you’ve done in 2020,” John Michael Rowland with Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar said.

It’s a mad dash to do twice, if not three times, the Carnival preparation work.

“Not only with COVID but also supply chain issues, things like that, so it’s it’s almost like doing Mardi Gras for the first time,” Matuszewski said.

Matuszewski is working to figure out how to keep her staff safe expecting an influx of foot traffic based on the larger than normal crowds at Krewe of Boo back in October.

“You’ll see a lot of Plexiglass up, we’ll probably make some changes to where we move the bathroom lines, things like that,” Matuszewski said. “We’re still kind of hashing out the details, working out the logistics.”

Not only that, she’s on the phone every day with distributors. Shortages in things like Irish Whiskey are affecting her orders.

“Some of the stuff that we would normally wait until a week before parades to order, they’re saying you might want to order it now because we don’t know if it’s going to be back in,” Matuszewski said. “So, it’s just adjusting your game plan and doing that on a very tight budget because, again, COVID.”

At Superior Seafood, it’s been the same hustle and bustle for Rowland.

“I’ve spent probably about eight to 10 hours a day, email, phone calls, making sure permitting is lined up, making sure we have the staffing that we need,” Rowland said.

He says the route changes have their balconies booked up and 90% of their window tables full.

“Some of those guests who may have been watching the parade on Magazine Street or further down Napoleon are now calling us because we’re the closest outlet for them and saying, ‘Hey, do you have any spots?’” Rowland said.

With such a large shift in the expected turnout, Rowland wants to make sure COVID protocols are followed.

“We have had to add staff, about three people for each shift, we’re going to have to add in order to kind of help with that control to make it an efficient process,” Rowland said.

Like Matuszewski at The Avenue, he says every aspect of the restaurant is impacted by supply chain issues.

“I just got word that about 35,000 cups that I ordered are still delayed I ordered in three months ago,” Rowland said. “You know, hopefully, they get it in time. Fingers crossed.”

Despite these challenges both The Avenue and Superior say they will be able to handle whatever comes their way and have no doubts they and their fellow businesses along the routes will be ready to deliver a safe parade season.

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