NEW ORLEANS — It's the musical and colorful calm before the storm as balconies and businesses along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter get ready to welcome big crowds Mardi Gras day. Inside Mambo's restaurant, the grill is fired up, with public safety on the menu.
"We don't want any issues and make sure everything is the way it's supposed to be," said General Manager Derrin Eugene.
Eugene's restaurant is just one of the places deputies from the Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office inspected Tuesday as they made a sweep down Bourbon Street, checking everything from sprinklers and alarms to doors and exits.
"We want to make sure all those things have been inspected. They're up to date. They're working, so they can handle the excess crowds that will be in these businesses," said Public Affairs Director, Ashley Rodrigue.
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For the most part, major issues are rare because not being in compliance is bad for business.
"Businesses down here understand this is their bread and butter time of the year," said Rodrigue.
Once inspections are done, those deputies aren't finished. They'll be around through Mardi Gras Day to make sure businesses aren't putting profit over people. As crowds filter in, Eugene says it's constant monitoring, to make sure capacity numbers aren't exceeded.
"Pretty much, you've got to keep your head on a swivel and make sure everybody is taken care of," said Eugene.
In making sure all the compliance details are in place, Eugene says working relationships with deputies make all the difference, to ensure the party doesn't miss a beat.
"The more they enjoy themselves, the better we feel," said Eugene.
Businesses found to be out of compliance are given a week to fix any issues before a follow-up inspection.