Association predicts 20-30% of restaurants gone
The Louisiana Restaurant Association anticipates that 20 percent to 30 percent of restaurants in the state will close permanently as a result of the coronavirus restrictions.
That estimate is even higher — 40 percent to 50 percent — in New Orleans, where restaurants are more heavily reliant on tourism than the rest of the state.
“You just don’t have any demand generators right now,” said Stan Harris, president of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “Right now, even when restaurants are at 50% capacity, that capacity is not being absorbed on Monday through Thursday.”
That means that insurance rates, rent or mortgage, property tax and other expenses don’t drop when revenue drops. The cost of labor, consumables and other supplies might drop, but not enough to make a substantial difference to a restaurant that might be seeing a 50 percent drop in revenue with the capacity restrictions currently in place.
“Everybody’s mentality right now is just to survive,” said Randy Daniel, president of the Acadiana chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “Everybody’s goal is just to hit the minimum number of sales possible to stay open. And fortunately, I think that’s happening for most of us, but it does put a lot of stress on restaurant owners.”
It’s been five months since Louisiana’s coronavirus restrictions began. Although many restaurants have seen an uptick in business in recent weeks as the state moved into Phase 2 of the reopening plan, others have yet to welcome customers back inside.
There’s no single source for restaurant closings, so it’s difficult to get a pulse on how Acadiana’s restaurants are faring.
Some have announced permanent closures via social media or by posting signs on their doors.
Others have left the scene in a quieter way, their signs dark with “closed” statuses on websites such as Yelp and delivery apps such as Waitr.