What LaToya Cantrell Just Did To Willie’s Chicken Shack Is Frightening

It was one thing to promulgate the ridiculous edict barring dining establishments and bars from being able to serve take-out drinks, but today we saw just how ridiculous New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell is willing to be

The New Orleans mayor said all locations of Willie’s Chicken Shack will remain closed throughout the pandemic.

According to mayor LaToya Cantrell, Willie’s Chicken Shack violated the noncompliance coronavirus restrictions set in place Saturday morning.

Willie’s issued the following statement regarding the decision:

“Willie’s closed all of its restaurants because we were unable to prevent our patrons from leaving our premises with drinks in hand after their meals. Willie’s patrons simply disregarded our signs prohibiting the removal of drinks from our premises.We strongly support the City’s efforts to fight the virus and hope to reopen Willie’s as soon as it is prudent to do so under the City’s guidelines.”

Cantrell announced new restrictions as part of the city’s efforts to stem the community spread of COVID-19 that has increased over the course of the phase two reopening period that began on June 13.

Effective 6 a.m. July 25, the city began prohibiting all takeout and drive-thru alcohol sales. Bars — regardless of whether they have a Louisiana Department of Health food permit — and restaurants will no longer be allowed to make takeout or drive-thru sales of alcoholic beverages.

There are eight locations of Willie’s Chicken Shack in downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. Whether any of them survive an indefinite suspension of business operations is highly questionable. At this point they’re probably going to have to open locations in the suburbs in order to survive.

All because of an arbitrary and capricious order which has nothing whatsoever to do with stopping the spread of COVID-19. There is nothing whatsoever magical about taking drinks out of a restaurant or bar which makes it different than taking food out.

There is a growing perception among people in New Orleans, particularly the folks we’re talking to, that the city is literally finished and that from here there is virtually no rock bottom. Without tourism New Orleans has no industry left to support a large number of jobs, meaning its people are doomed to government dependency and crime – and that makes for a very dangerous existence for its citizens who have something worth stealing.

Nobody puts up with that forever. They sell their houses and leave. When that happens and the local real estate market collapses, not all of the houses sell.

We saw this in Detroit, where entire swaths of that city became ruins. There are very nice houses in old neighborhoods in Detroit which were formerly very desirable; those houses are abandoned because when the neighborhoods started to decline there were literally no buyers. In Jackson, Mississippi the same is true on a smaller scale; Jackson has 78,000 houses but only 63,000 households; the remainder are abandoned.

With tourism, this kind of dissipation is less likely for New Orleans. People will snatch up properties cheaply and use them as weekend getaway pads. But the city has clamped down on VRBO and AirBnB, clearing out the short-term rental market and damaging the potential for out-of-town capital to prop up the real estate market.

That was done so that the low-income earners who make up so much of the city’s population wouldn’t be priced out of the real estate market. Except Cantrell has now banned large events from the city until at least 2021 because of COVID-19 and she’s now strangling to death the hospitality industry which supports the tourist trade and makes New Orleans a place worthy of holding a large event. What happens when there are no restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, etc. left in New Orleans by next year?

Sure, people can start up new businesses. But when you lose some of the venerable institutions, the new stuff will just look like Phoenix or Charlotte. It’ll be nondescript and anodyne. It won’t attract anyone.

And it isn’t like New Orleans is a good place to do business in anyway. Anybody who wants to start a business will look to Jefferson or St. Tammany Parishes before putting themselves under LaToya Cantrell’s thumb.

We’d like to say it isn’t as bad as all that. We really would. But right now it’s impossible not to hear New Orleans’ death rattle.

It wasn’t COVID-19 that killed the Big Easy. It was Cantrell. She’d find a way to kill it, virus or no virus. And it’s dying right before our eyes.



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