New Orleans is a city whose foundation is based on its culinary and cocktail scenes. But in the past 10+ months since COVID hit, these industries have taken a severe beating resulting in unprecedented business closures. And even though we have increasingly made strides in bouncing back, it has been quite the uphill battle.
How are the city and several LGBT+ businesses finding ways to survive this unprecedented situation? A new outdoor dining concept has been created called the Parklet and it is popping up all over the city to help businesses stay afloat and bring outdoor dining to restaurants and bars that do not have this amenity. Two LGBT+ businesses have taken advantage of this unique trend that has been born out of necessity.
The first is Betty’s Bar and Bistro located at 700 Burgundy Street. General Manager Michael Musa said the process for the application took a little over a month from start to approval. He explained it was a relatively easy process and the city has given Betty’s the temporary barricades for the four tables they now have. It is a great add-on to this popular venue that continues to have limited indoor dining as well. Currently the parklets are temporary, but the city is pushing to make them a permanent fixture by beautifying them with decks, aesthetically pleasing barricades and lighting.
The second business to take advantage of this new parquet system is The Phoenix located at 941 Elysian Fields Avenue. They now have five outdoor tables socially distanced for your drinking enjoyment. This neighborhood favorite has also revamped their patio for open air seating. Both venues have created a safe environment for patrons and employees, while giving people an opportunity to go back to a small sense of normalcy. As of this article, a few of the other gay bars have turned in applications for Parklets and are waiting approval, so we may be seeing more of these outdoor spaces in the very near future.
Another LGBT-owned restaurant, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen (615 South Carrollton Ave.) created its own “Gazebeaux” dining which has been expanded since COVID came along to take up the front half of their parking lot. Accented with planter boxes filled with vibrantly colored foliage and florals, LPK’s owners have created quite the relaxing atmosphere.
Other restaurants have followed suit with the Parklets such as The Pythian Market on Loyola Avenue, Juan’s Flying Burrito on Baronne Street, Meril on Girod Street, Lucy’s Retired Surfer Club on Tchoupitoulas Street, and Carmo on Julia Street. But in NOLA you cannot keep a good bar down, especially a gay one. The Crossing, The Golden Lantern, The Pub, Lafitte’s in Exile, Rawhide, GrandPre’s, and Good Friends all offer outdoor sidewalk seating and to-go drinks. GrandPre’s has the added benefit of a wonderful courtyard for cocktailing.
As a person who loves to sit and people watch, I have always enjoyed drinking outside and watching the world pass by, so this type of situation is ideal for me. If you like a perch from above, Lafitte’s in Exile and Good Friends have ideal balcony seating. For information on Parklets and how you would go about applying for a permit, go to https://www.nola.gov/onestop/business/food/food-alcohol/parklet-curbside-dining-pilot/.