NEW ORLEANS— Chef Donald Link of the Link Restaurant Group talked to WGNO about the state of his restaurants.
According to Link,”We still at half our labor force. 30% of the business, half the labor for. We started out as super skeleton crews and we’ve grown that, now that we’ve seen that there is some hope and there is some progress.”
And while it’s good to look forward to better days, the fact is our hospitality industry has a long way to go.
Mark Romig of New Orleans & Company, “The restaurants that are still closed and the ones that are limping by, as well as the hoteliers that even though recently got a shot in the arm by helping out the evacuees from the western part of our state. It’s going to be several years to get out of this and that’s being as straight as I can be.”
The institutions that are barely getting by employ people, and the people that are out of work would also like to see some attention paid to them as well.
“The bottom line is that we make a lot of money for all these establishments that make New Orleans what it is. We feel that we’re owed a lot greater than that. We feel like the working class in New Orleans has been heavily undeserved throughout this whole thing,” according to Kenneth Maque of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance.
There are some efforts afoot helping hospitality workers like the new fund established by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Fund and others, but we can all help by showing up at our favorite spots.
Chef Susan Spicer of Rosedale/Bayona suggested,”The best way that locals can help is just to coming out, coming out to eat, doing the stay-cation thing. I guess maybe getting a hotel room.”
Most of the restaurant folks we talked to have seen the support, but that support will be critical in the coming months according to Romig,”It’s going to be very helpful as we get into the fall because we don’t have the group business. Obviously the meetings and conventions are not occurring, so we’re going to have to rely on not only the locals in what we call the micro-market, people in the Greater New Orleans area to take advantage of our restaurants, attractions, and hotels but also our drive markets.”