NEW ORLEANS — Running a business in New Orleans recently has come with its fair share of roadblocks.
“The last two years have been pretty grim, just because we’ve been closed,” said Michael Foyder, the General Manager of HI New Orleans hostel.
But Foyder and the hostel, which sits on Canal Street across from the former Hard Rock Hotel collapse site, have one less roadblock to worry about.
“And now we’re opening the street!” he said jovially, gesturing to the newly-opened stretch of South Rampart Street at Canal.
Friday, the city removed the barricades blocking South Rampart Street for the first time since the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed at the intersection two years ago.
“That was one of the crazier days I’ve had in my life,” said Foyder.
The collapse killed three men and eventually, almost every business on the block. HI New Orleans Hostel had just opened in July 2019 but was forced to close for two months due to safety issues.
Then, in April of 2020, they were faced with more empty beds as COVID shut them down again. They were set to open up again for the first time since the pandemic began when Hurricane Ida set her sights on New Orleans.
Foyder said, “We were like, hey we’re gonna open up September 1st, And then pow – hurricane, you know?”
But now that the skies and the lot are cleared, there’s room for something new.
On Rampart Street, Besame has opened its doors.
“I thought it was the perfect location, the perfect timing,” said Nanyo Dominiguez, owner of Besame. He signed the lease at 110 S. Rampart two months ago, and had been fixing up and designing the space in anticipation of a grand opening.
Now, his Latin food is seeing foot traffic and car traffic.
“I’m super happy to see people walk through my doors,” he said.
Without those roadblocks, Canal and Rampart is full speed ahead.
Rampart Street may be closed again periodically over the next year to fix the road and underground utilities. For now, there’s one lane open leading into the French Quarter and two lanes open leading toward the Central Business District.