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Port of Call is open in the French Quarter

The iconic restaurant reopened a second time after being caught up in a to-go drink ban after only a day of operation.

NEW ORLEANS — There was a long line forming at the door when Port of Call reopened at noon in the French Quarter on Friday. 

“I’m...trying to support them,” customer Carlton Smith said. “I love good food. That’s why I came over here.” 

“I’m here today, on the real thing day, yeah,” said another customer, Polly Rither.

Port of Call tried to open back up two weeks ago with limited hours and takeout-only for food and drinks. 

It shut down the very next day when the city banned bars and restaurants from serving drinks to go. 

A state order had already prohibited inside drinking. 

“We’ve been stressed out lately with all of the rules and regulations and everything, but we’re ready, ready to do it again and I think it’s going to be successful,” longtime Port of Call General manager Mike Mollere said. 

Mollere said he and his staff quickly regrouped and came up with a plan based in the new state and local coronavirus guidelines. 

They put 5 new tables, six feet apart on the sidewalk along Esplanade Avenue outside the restaurant where customers can order food and drinks.  

The restaurant is also offering takeout service for food only. 

Like many other New Orleans eateries, Mollere admits his is fighting for survival. 

“Why stay closed any longer when the customers want to come and I think they’re going to come,” Mollere said. 

What they come for is the world-famous Port of Call burger. 

“Delicious, delicious, that’s what I’m talking about,” customer Timothy Sparrow told WWL-TV as he bit into a big burger stacked high with cheese. “Still here. It was worth the wait.” 

For now Port of Call will open Friday through Sunday noon to 8 p.m., but Mollere told us he’s hoping to eventually expand the hours and days depending on the response he gets in the first three days. 

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