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Monday, March 23, 2020

SHOW SOME LOVE!

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Some 14,300 people work in the hospitality and service industry in Shreveport-Bossier City. They need our help.

No one needs to tell you that Covid-19 has had an impact on almost all aspects of our lives in the past month. The ArkLaTex is once again getting a taste of the shortages, rationing and sacrifice of the war years last century, but there are ways to cope our ancestors would have loved to have. Like curbside delivery.

Restaurants have not just rolled over during the situation. We’re hearing reports that many are closing their dining rooms, yes, but adapting to the situation by opening their kitchens to strictly take-out. That’s a tall order for some dining establishments, but we’re a creative nation. Call your favorite place; don’t assume it’s closed. They can tell you what they can do and how you can get that special dish you’ve been craving while binge-watching “The Andy Griffith Show.” The home delivery services that have emerged in the recent past are still available. Smaller food service outlets are asking that you call them first before a delivery service so their employees can earn some money during the current state of affairs.

This situation is so new that things are changing quickly, so remember to call before you go.

Another thing to remember is that restaurants are businesses that can only survive on a steady flow of customers. They are open specific hours and sell a product that has a short shelf life. Some will not survive one or two months of closure without some way of paying their bills. Closures and restrictions are very hard on the industry, but we’re seeing examples of local establishments taking steps to adapt. A recent forbes. com article suggested purchasing gift cards to help tide small businesses over.

If you have a favorite restaurant and you want to make sure they survive the virus, call and see how they are coping with the new normal.

Blake Jackson is a local restaurateur who took his concerns to Baton Rouge in a letter he shared on Facebook. He pointed out that restaurants were given 12 hours to close their dining rooms in the interest of public health. “Within 48 hours, it was quick unemployment for the majority of our employees,” he wrote. He went on to state that many larger establishments are equipped to offer drive-thru or take out, but smaller businesses are ill-equipped to make those changes. He met with other local restaurant owners and came up with suggestions on how government could help small local businesses by easing some regulatory and financial burdens for them in the short term. By considering their suggestions, Jackson said, “we can weather this storm and emerge on the other side with a renewed commitment to our communities.”

Herby K’s has been a local fixture run by the same family in the same location since 1936. Their Facebook request is that local patrons not forget them during the virus. Like other food servers, they’re being forced to provide to-go orders only, but they’re facing the challenge. “This change has been a big adjustment, but Herby K’s is ready to become the best damn to-go place in the ArkLaTex!” Bella Fresca posted the following, along with a menu: “We are officially open for to-go business! Call 865- 6307 to place your order from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. We also offer a great selection of wine by the bottle at special pricing. Thank you for your support! Looking forward to serving you!” Many restaurants are offering special family meals specials, including Fat Calf Brasserie and Sauvage. Also, new take-out menus are being offered.

Some restaurants can now deliver beer and wine. Check their social media pages or websites. Giuseppe’s Pastacaffe is offering half-price bottles of wine with delivery.

Amanda Davis Felan at Fat Calf Brasserie sent this out to her Facebook followers: “We appreciate the concern our community has shown for us over the last few days.”

“We are doing our best to stay positive and adapt. It’s not feasible for us to keep a full menu available for to-go orders right now, but we do have our Family Take and Heat Meals, and we are adding another item for you this week and will be doing curbside pickup at the restaurant.”

Many small food service owners have had to make some emotionally difficult decisions based on new mandates about their businesses. Fumbles Bar and Grill in Shreveport posted a poignant message: “How do you tell the people that you see every day, that you care about, that you consider family – that they don’t have a job for at the least the next 30 days? We have lost 90% of our business overnight, and I’m honestly just scared, but I’m ready and willing to fight!” East Bank Mafia posted a similar sentiment: “I had to inform nearly 100 people that they were out of work today. The hardest thing I’ve ever done … God has given us a resolve through our faith in Him, and tomorrow the East Bank will transform into the greatest takeout and delivery service the world has ever known. With your support we know where to find 100 drivers, and you are going to be the hand of God.”

Starbucks has closed its dining area but keeps its to-go service as usual, as do most fast food establishments. Drivethru-capable outlets obviously have a distinct advantage, but those who don’t aren’t taking things lying down. Going to the Internet to research restaurant policy during Covid-19, there are hundreds of stories about how the foodservice industry is adapting. In Fordyce, Ark., for example, Sonic® has created a drive-thru for big rigs.

Food service is not alone. The entire entertainment sector is reeling from the sudden and restrictive new environment. Emmett Hook Center was forced to close its second weekend of “Little Women” performances because of the virus. Shreveport Little Theatre has announced that it will hold auditions for its summer musical, “Nine to Five,” by accepting video submissions only from actors, according to managing and artistic director Robert Darrow, Ph.D. They also had to postpone “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and cancel a fundraiser. You can find more information on their websites.

There is plenty of pain and inconvenience to go around as the world confronts this virus, but the wretched little bug has a tough fight on its hands when it faces the determination and never-giveup attitude that young and old, small business and large, are bringing to the fight.

What can you do? Remember to call ahead. Inquire as to whether you need cash or if credit and debit are OK. Call the restaurant first: Many are doing their own delivery, and it helps keep their regular staff employed. Share your food faves on social media – make us all want some!


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