After the pandemic losses, the businesses on Magazine Street relied on revenues from the carnival parade. Then the routes changed.
While most New Orleans residents are happy that parades return to the streets for the 2022 carnival season, the route changes will hurt many small businesses along Magazine Street.
The 2022 routes, announced Tuesday by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, eliminate the section of Magazine Street from Jefferson to Napoleon Avenue, where nine krewes begin their procession, and the longer section of Magazine from Henry Clay Avenue that the Krewe of Thoth commands. These parades will all line up on Napoleon and Prytania streets.
The owners of Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco at 5015 Magazine expected income from crowds watching the parade to help them recover from the pandemic.
“The Mardi Gras parades are a financial boost for us,” said Tito co-owner Tatiana Lock.
Other businesses on Magazine Street, she said, are also unhappy with the move. the restaurant industry.
And the expected crowds meant that Tito’s could recruit and increase employee hours. “We’re not going to fire anybody,” Lock said. “But the absence of parades means that we will not have the expected activity because customers will descend lower. So at the end of the day we will reduce staff hours, which means they will experience a loss of income. “
Le Bon Temps Roule, Magazine and Bordeaux Street’s iconic tavern, is a popular gathering place for parade-watchers, generating income that owners and employees alike rely on.
Joe Bikulege, partner of Bon Temps Roule, said he uses the extra income from the parades to pay property taxes and maintain an emergency fund. “You never know when something is going to go wrong with a building,” Bikulege said.
The money is especially needed now, he said, after losses from the pandemic. The bar and concert hall were closed for nine months and then operated at 25% capacity.
“Now is the third year that we have to suffer,” Bikulege said, adding that relief from the bars in the US bailout was of little help. “The bar and restaurant restoration fund ran out almost immediately – and no one seemed to care. ”
And like other business owners, Bikulege lamented that it would be the employees who would suffer. He thinks the city should have a plan to allow business owners to deduct sales taxes over the next five years to alleviate these tough times, times made more difficult for his business due to the shifting routes of the city. parade 2022.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Cantrell cited public safety as the reason for the parade’s shorter routes. The parades are straining the city’s police, fire, medical and other emergency services, which are already suffering from a severe shortage of personnel.
Cantrell says in a press release that the changes were made after extensive consultation with all relevant government agencies and Mardi Gras krewes.
The Reginelli Pizzeria on Magazine and State Street, near the traditional magazine route, gets a significant increase in income even when the parades do not pass by the restaurant. And it’s especially busy on the Sunday before Mardi Gras when the Krewe of Thoth rolls past its front door.
“We were disappointed, but not surprised, ”said Jay Smith, deputy general manager of Reginelli, when asked about the shortened Uptown parade route. Are they usually busy during the parades? “Oh yes!” Smith said. “It was going to be a great chance for us to earn some much needed extra money during the parades.”
Like Bikulege and Lock, he cited the adverse effects of the pandemic on restaurants and catering workers. When Reginelli’s magazine further down in the Garden District closed in In May 2020, the franchise owner cited the challenges of the pandemic as one of the reasons for the shutdown.
Reginelli’s on Magazine and State survives, Smith said, but that will mean fewer hours of work that will cost workers money.
“Thot and the Muses, and other parades, bring us a lot of money,” he said. “Running them on Magazine would give us some leeway and make a positive difference to our profit margin. “
Lock also said Thoth and the Muses were a boon to them, as well as Cleopatra the week before.
And they all said how much they all loved the Magazine Street parades. They make customers and staff happy.
On another note, Lock commented, “This will keep parade spectators more focused on the shorter route. How can that be good in the days of the virus?