Café du Monde has delayed the reopening of its famed French Quarter location in an attempt to be responsible during the global coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re very fortunate when people think of New Orleans, we’re one of the things that comes to their minds, we take that very serious,” Café du Monde president Jay Roman said. Roman himself, along with his family — and those of employees — are working behind the scenes to prepare the New Orleans institution for a safe start.
The pandemic has prompted many new safety concerns, and customer care is in the forefront of Roman’s mind. “You start figuring out the formulas to which doors to open first and how many hours, and how many people you can have and table placements, and the list just goes on and on,” Roman said.
There are financial hurdles, as well. Chief among them is ensuring the work pays enough to be worth abandoning the vital help the government has provided during the COVID-19 crisis. “We looked at ways to help people, but the CARES act did more than anyone could’ve imagined, so now our focus has changed to working with people so they can come back to work and still preserve that benefit that they’re getting,” Roman said.
Despite all of these concerns, there has been one significant upside: The downtime has allowed for work to be done that Roman said would otherwise be much more difficult. “When you’re open 24-hours, 7-days a week, you don’t get the chance to do some of the things we’re doing now,” he explained. “We’ve got 40 year old underground pipes that we’re digging up and replacing, we painted the kitchen, we changed our lighting fixtures from incandescent to LED for the future.”
The delay allows Café du Monde a little more time to finish all of these things. They still expect to open by the end of the week, even though it may be a while until customers are lined up down the street again. “I don’t see a line for a while, but at least, all I’m looking for is life,” Roman said. “After we get life, then we can worry about a line.”