I was speaking to an individual today who has extensive insights into French Quarter businesses. I’ll call him a “very reliable anonymous source.” We chatted about business returning to the Quarter and things returning to our dysfunctional level of normalcy. We noted how many establishments didn’t return from the shutdown and the number of vacant buildings there are. I commented on how I anticipate huge corporate chains to move in and he replied, “They already are.”
According to “my source,” one big player who is looking to expand to Bourbon Street is TACO BELL. My first thought was a fast food joint and I guess I scowled in confusion. Not your average strip mall variant of the fast food chain, he said, but a huge, mega Taco Bell Cantina, like the one in Las Vegas. It’s more in line with the Hard Rock Cafe franchise, which also has a presence on Bourbon Street. I had to look this one up online.
A flagship Taco Bell. A monster location with multi-floors and alcoholic beverages. They even have a gift shop with Taco Bell apparel. I’ll say it right now: if you have Taco Bell printed on your shirt, you better be an employee. I can respect a TB employee. I cringe at the thought of people spending $30 on a T-shirt to advertise a corporation as a status symbol. Dumb asses will collect and wear Hard Rock Cafe shirts, so much for common sense I guess.
Read more: Visit Taco Bell’s Flagship Restaurant in Las Vegas (tacobell.com)
A year ago I predicted after the pandemic and the huge corporations pick through the rubble of destroyed small businesses that the French Quarter will become a Disney outlet. Let me amend that, it may become like a Fremont Street in Las Vegas. This works well with the mayor’s vision of pedestrian mall in the Quarter. The city would love to have large multinational corporations moving in and driving out the few remaining mom-and-pop establishments.
The small businesses whine and complain when license fees, taxes and regulations restrict their operations. Big corporations can absorb those costs and even welcome them. High costs of operations keep out the small time start-ups while allowing them more pull with the city.
Just what I want, Fremont Street. Drunk tourists on a ZipLine screaming past my apartment window every night vomiting alcohol-saturated Krystal burgers onto Bourbon Street below. People on balconies pelting the zip liners with beads and bottles. Think it sounds implausible? One thing we have learned over the past couple of years is: if a massive corporation throws enough money at the right political campaigns, they can get away with killing people.
We don’t know yet how Bourbon Street will change over the next few years, but have no doubt that it will change.
Contact Eric T. Styles at email@example.com.