Coolinary Month sparks business as restaurants continue to struggle from impacts of pandemic, inflation and labor shortage

Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 11:28 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans restaurant owners say they’re still recovering from impacts of the pandemic, but events like Coolinary Month will help businesses by encouraging locals to dine out during the slow summer months.

Atchafalaya Restaurant uptown is excited to welcome in diners look for a deal.

“Honestly, it’s not only a benefit for Atchafalaya but it’s a benefit for the New Orleans you know, residential people,” said general manager Jeremy Gulledge.

He said the summer months are typically pretty slow for the restaurant. It’s hot and people tend to stay indoors or not travel to New Orleans in the summer. Coolinary Month helps bring people to the table, by offering custom menus for lunch and dinner offering multiple courses at a special price.

“Keeping the lights on is definitely a number one priority for us so we appreciate that too,” said Gulledge.

It hasn’t been easy. Owner Rachel Jaffe Tocco said they’re still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on top of supply chain issues and labor shortage.

“We’ll put out an ad, we’ll get a number of people interested, we’ll call them in for an interview and maybe they don’t show,” she said. “Or they do show, they come in for an interview multiple times and then they don’t show for the first shift. It’s crazy.”

Coolinary hopes more locals will take advantage of the restaurant deals.

“It’s really been a tough time for our restaurants, so Coolinary is an opportunity for us to just give extra promotion to the restaurants,” said Kelly Schulz with New Orleans & Co.

Deanie’s Seafood uptown is also in recovery mode, coming off the height of the pandemic and a year after Hurricane Ida.

“This post COVID world is a completely whole different animal,” said owner Chandra Chifici.

On top of being short-staffed, she’s also dealing with inflation and supply issues which is preventing her from staying open seven days a week.

“The biggest issue since Ida and it still continues is oysters. That is the biggest obstacle in the state. The price is skyrocketed and it has not really transitioned back down,” said Chifici. “It’s been really nice, I mean it’s a good little spark to the month of August because usually everybody is going back to school around here, so it gives people an incentive to go out.”

Coolinary Month offers dining deals until August 31 at more than 86 restaurants around the city.

Click here for a list of participating restaurants.

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