The LRA will remain closed today, October 29, 2020, as widespread power outages are being addressed by power crews throughout the Southeast Louisiana region. As soon as power has been restored, we plan to resume normal operations.
October 28, 2020
As of Wednesday a.m., Hurricane Zeta has been upgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane expected to make landfall this afternoon. The LRA will close today so that our staff may be safe at home as the storm comes through. It is projected to move through Southeast Louisiana beginning early afternoon and exit by this evening. Please stay tuned to your local weather for up to the minute news regarding Hurricane Zeta.
Dear Greater New Orleans Members,
As I work with many of you as clients and associates, or know you personally as a friend, we have labored and strategized through what I believe everyone thought would be a 60 to 90 day problem. Now, we know differently. This international pandemic will go down in history like many times we have lived through, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Events like these change our lives forever, but don’t have to take us down.
As a CPA, I work with, coach and consult businesses through challenges to grow and financially succeed. Through devastating times, and even to the point of bankruptcy or closure, I’ve been there with clients and friends. I’ve also been there when many have dug in and overcome the difficulties and succeeded, even in the face of financial troubles. My passion is to assist my clients prosper in every aspect of their business is the fuel that motivates me every day.
For the last 25 years practicing as a public accountant, there have been ups and downs and trying situations for myself and my clients. The last seven months though has made those look easy in comparison. On my CPA firm side, to think that 12 staff could work remotely and just four work in the office each day on a rotating schedule is crazy. We did it and did it well. The team showed, in spite of the adversity, their focus remained on our clients and counseling them during the pains of the shut down and accompanying financial distress.
I’m also a restaurateur. With my restaurant partner Scot Craig and general manager Jimmy Capella with Bienvenue on Hickory, the conversations were early on and often. We, like every restaurateur, had to make decisions about staff, operations and marketing to adapt to the COVID-19 world. Between us, we have over 70 years in the business, and among us said things like, “Well, I have never had to not serve customers in the dining room,” “Wearing masks to serve guests?” and “How can every restaurant be forced to close? Isn’t this the United States of America?”
The world was much different the last time there was a pandemic of this magnitude. At the time of the 1918 Pandemic referred to as the Spanish Flu, the average American ate roughly equivalent amounts of lard and chicken – 11.5 pounds and 14 pounds, respectively, per year. A century later, the ratio had thankfully widened and so had Americans’ livelihoods, lifestyles and ability to rely on a restaurant industry one million locations strong with a 15.3 million person workforce to support their mealtimes.
It’s a blessing that in current times, we have resources like technology, and whether good or bad, a 24-hour news cycle to gather information quickly to adapt earlier one. The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) has been in league with major news outlets in my experience and strictly focused to help restaurateurs learn, adapt and now, begin to recover—albeit seemingly slow and hopefully steady. The value of the LRA has never been more important, relevant and clearly committed to each of its members and the industry at large than during this time. The LRA team remains plugged it at every level – federal, state and local—and all in service of you and me. Please take the time to schedule a consultation with a LRA staff member to learn more about the benefits you can be taking advantage of in your pursuit to be a greater operator.
Born and raised in South Louisiana and married to a “French Quarter girl,” I know that we are a resilient people. We’ve been dealt more consistent and consecutive blows to our state than most others. Often I share my feelings with sayings like, “Every day’s a holiday, we are living the dream,” and “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Those have never been so real than in the last seven months. With my faith in God and witnessing incremental improvements in our daily lives as we learn to live with COVID, I’m secure in my belief that there are better times and a brighter future ahead.
Patrick J Gros, CPA APAC
Bienvenue on Hickory
2020 LRA GNO Chapter President
An update to the Restaurant Reopening Guidance has just been released – now called the COVID-19 Safe Operating Guidance.
The updated document continues to offer direction and provide a framework of best practices for restaurants operating under new COVID-19 rules and regulations. As with the previous two versions, It is meant to be used in conjunction with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code requirements, and all guidance required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, and state and local health officials for operations during the pandemic.
The Guidance continues to focus on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, and social distancing. Each section includes a list of actionable items an operation should consider as it evaluates its safety procedures.
Among the updates are:
You can download a copy of the new Guidance document HERE.
Dear Northshore Chapter Members,
I hope this communication finds you well. Time has flown, and it’s been over six months since we’ve been able to meet with one another in person as a group. I, for one, am desperately missing simple social interactions and imagine the feeling is mutual. It was a welcome treat to catch up with Jake Palmer of Acme – someone outside of my Covid circle - on a recent grocery run to Rouses’s. Until the social side of life returns to normal, I encourage you to find and indulge in a creature comfort to get you through the day. For me, it’s as simple as relaxing and drinking a cup of coffee (or two, maybe three). Even mundane moments of once daily routines can now feel like a luxury.
Unfortunately, the pandemic’s effect on our businesses and livelihoods is a different story. On our café side (PJ’s), we were fortunate enough to maintain some level of operation throughout each reopening phase. On the wholesale end, on premise consumption is at significantly reduced levels due to restaurant capacity restrictions. For us, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ve seen positive growth on our CPG (grocery) side as many are likely continuing to work from home and conveniently drink more coffee.
I know we are all looking forward to the day when we can reconvene as a group and interact with our peers and colleagues face to face. Until then, please remember there are still countless resources at your disposal - the LRA is there to support you with online resources, webinars, virtual events and even podcasts.
If anyone needs to get in touch, my contact info is below.
Thanks, and Happy Halloween!
Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that the City of New Orleans will continue its phased reopening plan by moving into Phase 3.2 at 6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, which will further ease restrictions on audience size, bars and breweries, and live entertainment.
"We are encouraged by our residents' response to our guidelines in continuing the gradual reopening of the City, the low numbers of case rates and hospitalizations, and the strengthening of our local economy as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to move from Phase 3.2 to Phase 3.3 in the same time frame, but to do that we have to adhere to the mandatory wearing of face coverings and practicing the social distancing needed now more than ever with the easement of these restrictions. New Orleans is coming back strong, and we can't go back or go back and forth," said Mayor Cantrell.
"Today, we continue to meet all of our public health milestones, including case numbers, positivity rates, testing, and hospital capacity, since we initiated Phase 3 two weeks ago,” said New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. "That indicates slow COVID-19 disease growth in Orleans Parish and allows us to continue to ease restrictions for activities that are have been shown locally to have relatively low risk of outbreak or community spread, activities that are outdoors, and timed and seated events. We've also given special consideration to bringing back jobs for residents with the least impact on public health, and to ensuring that policies do not worsen inequities."
All activities during the stages of Phase 3 must still include the crucial tenets of disease control, including the following:
For more information, visit ready.nola.gov/reopening. You can also read the guidelines here.
Councilmember Palmer to Introduce a resolution Authorizing NOLA Bars to Reopen with Guidelines from the City's Health Department
Resolution (R-20-356) by District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer notifies Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards that New Orleans is opting into on-site alcohol and food consumption at local bars. The resolution formally authorizes the reopening of bars under the New Orleans Health Department Phase 3 guidelines and Governor Edwards's September 11 proclamation.
In the Louisiana Department of Health's most recent data, New Orleans bars are located in a parish with less than 5% of positive COVID-19 cases for two consecutive weeks. This also satisfies a requirement in the Governor's Phase 3 reopening guidelines.
The resolution will not allow bars to reopen and operate with on-site consumption until Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the New Orleans Health Department establish proper rules and guidelines along with plans for enforcing and penalties for bad actors. Additional restrictions are provided in the Governor's September 11 proclamation, including that bars will be closed for on-site consumption should the parish exceed 10% COVID-19 positivity rates for two consecutive weeks.
"Based on the latest data from the State's Department of Health and the Governor, our city has met the milestones to reopen with on-site alcohol sales safely, but this does not mean the pandemic is over. The Council expects all bars, restaurants, and establishments and their patrons to follow safety measures and guidelines to reduce the virus's spread. I have spoken with numerous bar owners across my district who have been planning for months to have appropriate measures in place to operate safely. They have suffered economically more than most and yet have made it clear that they understand their responsibility to the community's public health. Any establishment that doesn't respect the rules should not be allowed to operate. They should not be allowed to undo the work that so many others across this city have done." said Councilmember Palmer.
To view the full meeting agenda, click here.
Thursday, October 15, 2020, at 10 AM
The meeting may be accessed using the following methods:
Feeling like 2020 cannot end soon enough? Shut-downs, phases, and the long list of new rules for businesses to follow have taken a toll. The reality of long-term closures, even with the current modifications, has gripped the industry with a relentless hold. According to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association, nearly 1 in 6 restaurants (representing nearly 100,000 restaurants) is closed either permanently or long-term; nearly 3 million employees are still out of work; and the industry is on track to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of the year. (restaurant.org) With the restaurant industry at the forefront of the pandemic’s economic demise, recovery is expected to take years, possibly decades. What does the industry look like post COVID? As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, many have questioned the future of the businesses they have worked and sacrificed their lives for. Years of nights, weekends and holidays invested in an industry built on community support gone almost overnight.
Is there a silver lining in the gravity of complete and utter devastation caused by a world crisis? Embracing change and pivoting to new business models proved to be a theme for 2020. Many chose to dig in and grind at a pace more labor intensive than ever before. Innovation and new ideas surfaced and moved a nation to create, rebuild and lend a hand to help others in need. Families spent more time together and found themselves in the kitchen working on meals while forced to dine at home. Usual routines filled with work, ball games and outings were all but scrapped. The country was forced to find ways to entertain rambunctious children, feed hungry housemates and survive without the usual access to provisions.
So, when asked if there is a silver lining for me as I shifted from fully booked months of catering and a staffed kitchen to government halted events and skeleton crews for daily operations, my answer was, remarkably, yes. My silver lining through all this was embracing and putting to use the many teachings from my late grandparents. The story of losing and yet getting back in the game is very evident in the stories they passed on to me. Both my grandparents were hard-working entrepreneurs. They both survived the Great Depression and raised 4 children while my grandfather was enlisted in World War II. My grandfather’s own mother died of the Spanish Flu when he was only 4. They were no stranger to being dealt a bad hand and moving on with life regardless. From summers spent with them growing and harvesting a vegetable garden, making toys and games from natural materials, and appreciating the quiet with daydreaming or napping, I learned simple life lessons which came in handy during the pandemic.
The summer of 2020 was a circus of sorts. I compare it to walking the tight rope with no net while juggling my family, my business and my sanity. There were also many positives from this unprecedented time. Engaging the family in the kitchen at work and home seemed to keep them occupied with tasks that doubled as learning. We also planted a wild-flower garden which ended up being harvested as beautiful flowers added to a few plates for dinner parties and photo shoots. Most of all, we sat together at the dinner table, turned off the television, put the cell phones on silent, and talked to each other. The reward was the seemingly endless hours of conversation spent over empty plates and full bellies. I learned so much about my “tribe” and what makes us all tick – and what areas we need to work on as a family to enhance our daily living. We are all still living in this crazy world, just in a different way.
As for the industry I chose as a career and have given 25 years of my life to, I am optimistic our industry will rally and return stronger than before. What drives me to return each day is my love for community and service to each customer who supports my business. I deeply appreciate the interactions with industry peers, customers, vendors, and the long list of each business associated with the restaurant industry. It is a family of friends and competitors. It is my family aside from my family at home and I want us all to prosper.
God bless us all and cheers to a new year with a fresh start!
The Gilded Artichoke
GBR Chapter President 2020
Louisiana will stay in Phase 3, keeping its strong COVID-19 mitigation measures, including a continued statewide mask mandate, in place for another 28 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced.
The Governor moved Louisiana to Phase 3 in September, following declines in new cases and hospitalizations. Case numbers have spiked already twice in Louisiana – once in April and again in July.
“Today, I’m announcing that Louisiana will stay in Phase 3 until at least November 6, as we continue to implement the mitigation measures developed for the state by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and supported by health experts that are having a positive impact on our battle against this public health emergency,” Gov. Edwards said. “All of the data shows improvement in Louisiana’s COVID situation because of the strong mitigation measures we have in place and because of the hard work of the people of Louisiana. These measures, which are supported by science, are allowing us to keep our case count and hospitalizations down, even as most of Louisiana’s businesses have expanded their operations and more people are moving about.
“We know that as schools return to in person learning, restaurants and bars open even more widely and more events begin, there is more risk to spreading COVID. I also remain incredibly concerned about how Hurricane Delta will impact our ability to operate community testing and also displace people in ways that may lead to spread.”
On Monday, Gov. Edwards announced that alcohol could be sold at sporting events in parishes that qualified and had opted in to re-open bars for on-site alcohol consumption, which is the only major change in the Governor’s Phase 3 order.
In addition, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal will issue guidance for fairs and festivals, which will allow event producers to submit a plan for approval. No outdoor fair or festival shall have more than 500 people.