Al Kuhlman, The Forest Restaurant
Tricia Mestayer, Chick's Burgers
'Just going to take it day by day, and pray...'
With Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards having closed dine-in restaurants across the state last week in response to elevating numbers of positive cases of COVID-19 statewide, local restaurants are being forced to function under strained circumstances these days.
“More aggressive steps are necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19 across Louisiana,” Edwards said this week. “These limitations were difficult to make, but they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health of Louisianans, and flatten the curve.”
Two local restaurants among many that are feeling the pressure of the new restaurant guidelines are The Forest Restaurant in Franklin, and Chick’s Burgers in Baldwin.
Forest owner Al Kuhlman said, “The effect of this virus has caused the governor to force the closure of all dining rooms due to not wanting people to congregate where they could pass the virus on to somebody else.
“Naturally, that means my buffet business is gone and my dine-in business is gone. So, we are at over half-off, volume-wise.”
He added that The Forest continues to stay open for carry-out service, with breakfast being served at 5:30 a.m. and anything on the menu available to-go.
“You call in ahead,” Kuhlman said, “and we’ve even added an additional service of curbside pick-up.
“If somebody doesn’t want to come in to pick up, we’ll bring it out to you at your car, as long as you call ahead and give us your credit card, we can do it that way.”
Kuhlman went on to say that all of his servers at the restaurant have been relieved of duties, with state COVID-19 unemployment compensation a sole possibility for income in most cases.
“We just hope this blows over rather quickly,” he said. “Hopefully it will not go on as long as the predictions from our government have said it might.
“We are just going to take it day by day, and pray to the Lord to make it better, sooner (than later).”
As for Chick’s Burgers, owner Tricia Mestayer said they are only providing curbside pickup orders for the general public, with a stipulation for their local elderly patrons, that home delivery services are available with drop off points for the food and for payment purposes, to avoid personal contact.
“We still have all our staff coming in as of now,” Mestayer said, “but I will adjust accordingly if I need to.”
As for financial impacts of statewide dining room closures, Mestayer said she expects a negative effect on her restaurant business, but to what extent remains to be seen, adding, “However, I know it will be substantial.”
“We are going to continue to serve all of our menu items,” she continued, “including plate lunches Monday through Friday, with some specials thrown in, as well.
“As far as adjusting hours of operation or closing entirely, I am not going to do that at this time.”
She said in closing, “I would encourage people to support their local ‘Mom and Pop’ shops and not think of franchises and corporations first, but support the people that are going to be here through the long haul.
“By supporting these (local) businesses they are truly supporting their community and all of the people who live here.”