NEW ORLEANS — When Adina DeFelice heard bars must close during Mardi Gras weekend, the calls started coming in.
“Everybody has been blowing up my phone all morning long,” said DeFelice.
DeFelice is a manager and bartender at The Starlight, right off Bourbon Street. Like every other bar across the city, it will have to close on February 12 through Mardi Gras Day as part of the city’s new COVID rules. That includes bars currently operating as restaurants with conditional permits.
“It’s disheartening but also at the same time you want everybody to be safe,” said DeFelice.
As a bartender, DeFelice relies on the money the long weekend brings in.
"I can pay off debt, I can pay off credit cards with Mardi Gras money. Without this it’s going to drain me, a lot,” said DeFelice.
“The days they’re closed are the biggest days in the bar business,” said Willie Mackie, general partner at The Page which sits right on the edge of the French Quarter.
Mackie said not having Mardi Gras business can be devastating to many bars already struggling.
“Anybody that’s been in or run a bar knows that you get stuck sometimes and Mardi Gras will take you straight through,” said Mackie.
While these closures are certainly disheartening for business owners and employees, they’ve been here before. The last year has essentially been a roller coaster for them. The difference here is, there’s at least an end date.
That’s exactly what DeFelice is trying to find hope in.
“Next week or the week after we’ll see if maybe we can pick up some of that pace again,” said DeFelice. “Maybe people will be tired of sitting inside and come out and see us."
In the meantime, letting the good times roll will be put on hold.
“You’ve got to look at the fact that this is going to keep us safe and you’ve got to understand that,” said Mackie.