New Orleans bar owners respond after city shuts them down citing COVID violations
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A day after the City of New Orleans shut down four bars for not complying with COVID regulations, some bar owners say the city does not have the full picture.
Facing an already challenging situation and having to stay closed through Mardi Gras, one business owner says he will have no option but to move forward safely.
A popular spot among college kids and young people, the Red Eye Grill found themselves in the city’s crosshairs Friday night when code enforcers were out.
“After that, it was like nothing you can say that point,” said owner Albert Bowes.
Bowes admits the pictures look bad but says it’s yet another example of how the pandemic has forced their hand. He says that was an abnormally busy night. Bowes said when the city shut down The District minutes before, those bar patrons flooded the Red Eye, overwhelming his otherwise idling staff.
“I was like huh, that’s interesting, and within 10 minutes suddenly there’s a big rush of people and I was like where did this come from… we were only in business for maybe 15 minutes at most and the cops were almost there like one and one. That’s not a normal night. I mean once I was already overwhelmed it was like what am I going to do now. At the end of the day they were already there so it was like it is what it is,” said Bowes.
He says by that time city workers were already shutting them down.
“They came in, were actually pretty cool about everything and talked to me and said I had to cease operations,” said Bowes.
The city warned they planned to take this kind of action in a press conference announcing stricter Mardi Gras restrictions.
“We see your social media accounts luring college students into your death traps. Your selfishness continues to threaten the delicate ecosystem that is our hospitality industry. You are directly responsible for the deaths of New Orleanians,” said deputy CAO Peter Bowen.
“The problem right now during COVID, if anyone finds out anyone is open - the power of social media, they communicate. It just takes one person to send a text message and you have a flood of people,” said Bowes.
Bowes says they don’t have to “lure” college students into the bar; that’s already their clientele.
He says the pandemic has put the business in dire straits, much less trying to police surprise crowds on an already stretched-thin staff.
“There’s no end in sight and you’re putting restaurant bar workers back against the wall and it comes down to you gotta do what you gotta do at some point it’s not justified but you can understand why people are making the decisions they’re making,” said Bowes.
Bowes said they will submit a plan to the city to reopen, but likely will not do so until they’re allowed at 50 percent capacity.
In a statement, the owner of the Cadi Corner also responded to the city’s shut down of their bar:
“Since the inception of Cadi Corner Sports Lounge, we have been a constant target of harassment from our neighbor directly adjacent to the bar. We have consistently attempted to foster positive relationships with all of our neighbors and consistently been in compliance with both our city and state regulations as it pertains to COVID-19 and it restrictions. The bar was fully closed for approximately three months and at that time we still received calls from the neighbor regarding vehicles being parked and trash on the streets, which was completely out of our control, as we were closed to all patrons. It is extremely disheartening because regardless of what phase the city was in or how much we follow the guidelines ‘To a T’, we still are being harassed because of one individual. In response to the incident on last night, there was a total of six individuals present and two were employees of the establishment. We intend to move past this situation and continue to provide our customers a safe and wonderful environment.”
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