As our city, state, and nation enter Phase Two of re-opening, I want to express the Downtown Development District’s gratitude to the DDD Clean Team and the Enhanced Public Safety Team. The Clean Team, Public Safety Rangers, Homeless Outreach Team, Private Patrol, and NOPD Detail continued to work throughout the Stay at Home order, assuring that Downtown public facilities received frequent disinfection and keeping our businesses and homes safe. They, along with our Frontline Workers and First Responders, are heroes to us all. Look for our modest but heartfelt thank you to them on the Downtown street banners soon.
I am encouraged that the DDD’s call for restaurants to have access to easy, cost-free outdoor seating is in motion. We know that restaurants are particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of COVID. We also know that restaurants are a critical element of Downtown’s economy and quality of life. When we asked Downtown residents, workers, and business owners what they look forward to most during reopening, “Downtown restaurants” topped the list.
You also have told us that you insist on feeling safe as you return to our restaurants and other businesses. This is why I am encouraged that the City of New Orleans is allowing restaurants — even those who previously did not have sidewalk cafes — to expand table service to the sidewalk with the regular City fees waived. Open air seating, interior seating at 50%, and takeout & delivery is a combination that can help Downtown restaurants weather the COVID storm until we get back to normal. It also helps keep everyone safe — diners and waitstaff alike.
Parklets are another way to increase viability and quality of life simultaneously. The DDD has long advocated for parklets, that is, using the parking lane in front of restaurants for additional café-style seating. We even worked with one of our local restaurant groups to build out a demonstration of how this can be done safely and attractively. We think now would be a perfect time to allow restaurants to make this move if they so desire.
Thanks to all of our What’s Up Downtown subscribers and our 58,000 social media followers who have engaged with us and supported our Downtown businesses during the Stay at Home. Our merchants have told us how grateful they are for the support. Let’s keep supporting our Downtown restaurants and shops! We will continue to update our How to Shop and How to Eat portals, accessible from the front page of Downtownnola.com. You won’t find an easier to use source for Downtown restaurants and shops.
The entire Downtown Development District (DDD) team continues to wish you good health as we make our way back to normal. As always, the DDD is working to preserve the thriving Downtown New Orleans that we have built together and preparing to propel Downtown to new heights on the other side of COVID-19.