When the state’s new rules governing their operation came down, many of the restaurants on Freret Street between Jefferson and Napoleon Avenues did what New Orleanians do best — they adjusted and adapted.
On Monday, Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards ordered the closing of all bars statewide and limited restaurants to carry-out, delivery, or drive-thru service only. The following day, the restaurants in the revitalized Freret Street corridor had already refined their operations to adjust to the new guidelines. Many of the restaurants are small, locally owned eateries so prevalent in the New Orleans dining landscape.
At lunchtime Tuesday, Mint Modern was offering its full menu for take-out from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Across the street chairs and tables were pushed to the walls at Liberty Cheese Steaks, and bags of food awaited pick-up on a pair of tables in the middle of the floor.
A few doors down, two cooks and a cashier worked at Good Bird which will be open daily offering its full menu for carry-out from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. while limiting the space to five customers at a time. Kolache Kitchen will continue to offer its full menu for take-out Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. and weekends from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. A sign in the window at City Greens said it will be open for take-out and delivery from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
There is good news for pizza aficionados: Blaze Pizza was open with a full menu for carry-out from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Farther down the street, a sign in the window at Midway Pizza said they will be open for take-out from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Ancora Pizzeria e Salumeria said in an Instagram post that they will also be offering take-out only from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily “until we can’t anymore. Shout-out to everyone doing their best in these crazy times!”
Just a few minutes after opening up at noon for to-go orders, the High Hat Café already had three phone-ins. A playpen belonging to the toddler of one of the chefs was set up on the floor behind a wall of tables as white to-go containers were ferried from the kitchen to the bar. They plan to continue to offer their full menu from noon until 7 p.m. daily.
Next door, manager Payson Van Orden of Acropolis on Freret said his restaurant will remain open for carry-out from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. daily. He added that patrons can also purchase to take home a bottle of over 30 kinds of wine. He admits it has been hard to see restaurants on the street struggling. Just yesterday, he said the chef from the closed Bar Frances across the street was cooking up seafood and delivering it to workers at neighboring restaurants because he didn’t want it to go to waste.
Sarita’s Grill was open for take-out of their full menu from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and hoped to begin deliveries on Wednesday. Company Burger had a table set-up to take orders right at the front door while patrons waited on the sidewalk outside. They are offering their full menu from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. but have suspended any specials for the time being.
As the restaurants continued to fill sporadic orders, a box truck of produce from Covey Rise Farms in Husser, Louisiana drove along Freret Street offering what senior sales representative Michael Postlewait describes as a “mobile farmer’s market.” While business was steady last week, he said “this week has been bad” in the aftermath of the new regulations. Scores of his regular local restaurant clients are simply not in need of his truck full of Brussels sprouts, strawberries, mushrooms and kale. But, he continued on, driving from restaurant to restaurant in the midday heat.
One of the common caveats heard when managers and owners talk about their hours of operation and available menus is “for the time being,” as supplies and the rapidly escalating coronavirus crisis cause “certainty” to be measured in days if not hours. Several businesses suggested that patrons follow them on social media for the latest updates on their hours and menus.
While most of the Freret Street restaurants strive to serve food under the new guidelines, some favorite spots have ceased operations altogether for the foreseeable future. The sushi restaurant Origami had a sign in the window saying it would be closed for the remainder of March.
Dat Dog announced on Instagram: “With deep sadness, we must shut down operations for ALL Dat Dog locations effective at 9PM tonight. We will reopen April 13th or until the government shutdown is lifted. During this time, we will not be available for take out or delivery.”
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Their popular neighbor down the street, Cure, shared their news on Instagram as well: “We have the best guests on the planet and these past 11 years serving you have been nothing short of incredible. Knowing all of this, it is with a heavy heart that we close our doors today but we know it is the best thing we can do for all of you, for our teams and for their families for the time being.”
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