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Restaurants cautiously reopen as COVID-19 pandemic stretches on

"I never thought in a million years, in my lifetime, we would go through something like this. It's sad for all of us restaurants and all businesses," said Apuzzo.

NEW ORLEANS — While Governor John Bel Edwards isn’t sure when the state will move into phase three, a number of restaurants aren’t waiting for the next phase to reopen. Some have been open since phase one. Others are looking to reopen this week, including the popular Commander’s Palace, where the tables are empty for now but soon things will look much different.

"Now the team is back,” said Ti Martin, who runs Commander's Palace with her cousin Lally Brennan. “We are training and we are going to open up Friday night. We started reservations today."

The phone lines opened up at 9 a.m Tuesday and the restaurant is pretty much booked for 50 percent capacity for Friday night. The restaurant had stayed afloat by offering pick up service and by shipping all over the country using a website called Goldbelly.

"The to-go food businesses, the Goldbelly and the wine pick up we moved it over next door into a little place we are running called Le Petit Blue," said Martin. "It's painted Commander's blue and white stripes," added Brennan. 

Restaurants across the nation put up closed signs as the pandemic went from bad to worse. It's an era chef Andrea Apuzzo of Andrea's in Metairie could have never even imagined. The restaurant is open and has been since phase one but with fewer customers Apuzzo had to let some employees go, some had been with him for three decades. 

"I never thought in a million years, in my lifetime, we would go through something like this. It's sad for all of us restaurants and all businesses," said Apuzzo.

The restaurant is getting by at limited capacity and they understand and have accepted the need for safety. At the same rate, they can't wait until they can again have a packed house.

"We hope that the vaccine comes early enough and quick enough that people can take it and people will go back to businesses and hopefully this virus goes away as quickly as possible," said Apuzzo. 

Back at Commanders, the menu board still says March 16th, the last night the restaurant welcomed guests inside. It’s now a sign that these restaurant owners are ready to rewrite as they reopen with new COVID-19 safety measures like masks, social distant tables and temperature checks. 

"We want to get Commanders going again and we are going to do it Friday night,” said Martin. “Very safe and very distant but we are just ready to celebrate so come on we are looking forward to seeing you."

Full service starts up again this Friday and begins with dinner and weekend Jazz brunch only. 

Commander's isn’t the only New Orleans restaurant reopening. Bayona will open up again on September 16th. Irene’s will open up on the 15th. 

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