ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. — A month after Hurricane Ida slammed the river and bayou parishes, pieces of everyday life are starting to open back up. In hard hit communities, a return to places like restaurants can be a much-needed sign and taste of progress.
The stove fires are back on inside the kitchen at Santos in Luling.
The St. Charles Parish restaurant was only open for two weeks when Hurricane Ida shut it down for a month. Monday was the first day back in business and for Buddy Boe, an ingredient of optimism for his community.
“For us, it was about having a place people could go and just sit down and be served,” Boe said.
With a month of none of that, Boe and Executive Chef Natasha Clement cooked up a plan. They wanted to serve people a sense of comfort, one spoonful at a time.
“The emotional, physical, and mental defeat of a hurricane takes a toll on anybody whether they’re 4-years-old or 70-years-old and I think the goal for opening was to give everybody hope,” Clement said.
Thankfully, the restaurant wasn’t heavily damaged and power came back last week. For Clement, it’s a home away from home, especially since hers was destroyed again.
“We lost most of our stuff in Isaac and had to rebuild. This time was much, much worse,” Clement said.
Clement believes resetting the tables so quickly came with a little divine intervention. Pictures of Saints James, John and Charles hang on the wall next to the bar. Meaning “Saints” in English, Santos was named in their honor, reflecting the three river parishes.
“We’re hoping that they prayed over us, because it seems like they did,” Clement said.
Many other businesses along Highway 90 are still unable to open because the damage is so bad. Knowing how lucky they are, Boe says being open provides something you can’t order off any menu.
“Restaurants are usually a place people go to feel good again. It’s part of the neighborhood. It’s part of the routine. It’s part of what makes a place home,” Boe said.
A home where food brings people to the table, in a community with a big appetite for normalcy.
Right now, the restaurant is only open for lunch but plans to slowly add dinner service. There’s even a family meal options for pick up.