NEW ORLEANS - Restaurants have spent months fighting to stay open amid the pandemic. Some were given a helping hand thanks to a city-wide partnership. However, funds are set to stop at the end of the month, which has some owners trying to figure out what to do next.
Welty's Deli and Catering has been a local treat since Katrina. When the pandemic hit, co-owner Tina Welty, did what she could to survive.
"For a few months we just were in shock," she remembers. "And I said we need to do something and we literally sold food out of my front yard. When we finally opened, we thought, okay, things will get back to normal and it's going to take time but if we work hard we can do this and it just never happened."
A lifeline came in July. Chefs Brigade and Revolution Foods started a feeding program, and with an $18 million FEMA grant, about 80 restaurants have made meals to those in need.
"It brings me so much joy to help my community, to give back to them, to keep my employees working, to keep my restaurant alive," said Welty. "If it wasn't for this program, I literally would've had to close my doors.
That joy though has gone back to fear.
"It's ending at the end of December, so here I am again crying in the corner, said Welty. "But I said, okay you need to figure this out."
Welty recently partnered with The Profit, Marcus Lemonis, who gave her $20,000 to fund a meal delivery program to several local organizations. She's now working to grow it, with the help of customer donations.
"I've learned there are people out there who really care, and really just want to help others and do what's right in this world," she said. "And they pull together and as awful as COVID is, there's been good out of it."
So far, it's been good, but she's hoping more donations will come. And even though each day is still a struggle, knowing she's able to help others, makes the hardships of this pandemic a bit more bearable.
100% of donations will be delivered to Bridge House/Grace House, 2nd Harvest, New Orleans Musicians Clinic, as well as others. If you'd like to buy a meal for someone in need, you can find out information at weltysdeli.com.