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Our Views: Get good eats from the restaurants who need us now

March 23, 2020
Originally posted on The Advocate

We all have to eat. With great emphasis on cooperating with authorities, we strongly support the Stay Home approach and we support President Donald Trump’s suggestion that we shop for — or make — groceries one week at a time.

Home cooking is a good idea as we spend more time in our homes with family, friends and roommates who share the same space. Rinsing, soaking and cooking a batch of red beans, making that just-right roux for the best gumbo and fixing some jambalaya with the holy trinity (if you have to ask, call a New Orleans friend) are some of our go-to kitchen musts and more time at home gives us more time to practice, or just enjoy these dishes.

But we all enjoy a good meal prepared by someone else.

The restaurants whose dishes, sandwiches and plates we were enjoying with tableside service, on bar stools or with takeout at lunch or after work — only a few days ago — are now in a tailspin.

Doing something none of us could have conceived as possible previously, Gov. John Bel Edwards closed down bars completely and limited restaurants to to-go and delivery orders until April 13 to limit social interaction and slow the spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus disease rapidly killing thousands around the world.

With the coronavirus significantly reducing restaurant hours and offerings, we need to maintain some of our tasty culture by supporting our chefs, cooks and servers who provide us with delicious meals when we’re not in the mood or just want a night off or a night out.

We shouldn’t be venturing out to restaurants and public spaces with many people we don’t know, but we can pick up a telephone and place an order for delivery or pick up.

The Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Association of Business and Industry has a suggestion: Take the #giftcardchallenge. The association reminds us that these mom-and-pop businesses, restaurant and retail outlets have helped us with special family events, gifts and good food. They remind us that these are our friends and neighbors, and they’ve often helped us immediately after storms. “It’s our turn to have their back after they have had our back time and time again over the years,” according to LABI. They suggest buying a gift card, taking a photo of yourself with it and posting it on social media with the #giftcardchallenge hashtag to inspire others to do the same.

There are plenty of choices, especially in New Orleans. Get yourself some Creole gumbo from Dunbar’s Creole Cafe on Earhart, served with gumbo in a big cup, with rice, potato salad and French bread on the side. Consider visiting the Joint in the Bywater for a pan of barbecue and sides. In Lafayette, Charley G's could use some customers. Whatever your favorite place is, they need you now more than ever.

Let’s support our good-eats restaurants with gift cards, delivery and to-go orders. Everyone who can cook the good stuff deserves a break.