August 16, 2022

Jefferson Parish bars back in business, could New Orleans be next?

An announcement from New Orleans could come next week on whether bars like Bullet’s will be able to open.

METAIRIE, La. — It’s not back to normal, but much closer to it at Whitey’s Pool Hall in Metairie.

“Oh, we’re tickled to death,” said 47-year owner Adrian Hamann.

In their second official day of being able to operate as a neighborhood bar again, Hamann says it’s a welcomed return.

“The customers are loving it. They’re glad to be back. They feel like they’re back home again,” Hamann said.

It’s a different story next door in Orleans Parish where bar business isn’t adding up. Rollin Garcia’s neighborhood bar in the Seventh Ward is still empty, six months after shutting down.

“I really didn’t think it would be this long,” Garcia said.

Garcia has owned Bullet’s for about 24 years and has been cutting costs where he can.

“We went from five TVs to one,” he said.

Thanks to savings over the years, he’s still able to pay the bills for now.

“You’ve got to save. I don’t know what you were taught, but they told me if you make $20, put $5 on the side and that’s basically what’s keeping me going,” Garcia said.

Under state restrictions, parishes can opt in to allow bars to reopen if the parish has two consecutive weeks of a less than five percent positivity rate. Both Jefferson and Orleans parishes meet that benchmark, but Orleans Parish has not opted in like Jefferson Parish.

Garcia says he respects the decision, but every week with no business becomes more of a struggle to stay in business.

“This bar is no different than you going to a restaurant and eat,” Garcia said. “You’re going to take your mask off, you’re going to eat, you’re going to be allowed to drink whatever you want to drink while you’re eating and then you’re going to get up and go.”

For bars that are open, there are some restrictions. Masks, social distancing and capacity requirements are in place and bars must close at 11 p.m. Hamann says he doesn’t mind any of that, he’s just glad to get back to business.

“We’ll just have to live with that until we get past this COVID virus,” Hamann said.

An announcement from New Orleans could come next week on whether bars like Bullet’s will be able to open. If positivity rates start climbing again, bars that are open in Jefferson Parish could once again close.

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