Anonymous customer tips Spirits on Bourbon workers $3K for a second time

(Photo: Courtesy of Spirts on Bourbon)
Mardi Gras ended a little more than a month ago and with hardly any excitement whatsoever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a detriment to service industry workers in the French Quarter, and especially the bars on Bourbon Street, which were ordered closed through the holiday weekend to, you know, prevent spread of COVID-19.

The weekslong celebrated holiday is typically an opportunity for industry folks to earn money from tips and wages, but both of those were virtually nonexistent because of the coronavirus business restrictions that heavily reduced sales and also kept bars and restaurants from also earning revenue.

But for some French Quarter industry folks, there was an occasional life raft.

For the second time, a patron came in and dropped a $3,000 tip for the staff at Spirits on Bourbon, located at 615 Bourbon St. This time, it was on a tab of only $141.50.

The patron came and tipped the bartender $3,000 in July, also.

Smith was reluctant to identify the patron, citing privacy concerns, but added that it was a man from out of state and runs his own company, but didn’t identify the industry.

“There really are some great people in this world,” co-owner Steve Smith wrote on social media. “You may remember we had a Good Samaritan leave our bartender a $3,000 tip in the beginning of the pandemic. Well, he came back and did it again and gave another server $3k! We are very proud of and happy for our staff.”

A Quarter Rat throwback tourist map to the Vieux Carre, and some other parts of New Orleans

Mardi Gras parades are canceled in New Orleans to reduce spread of COVID-19 and despite heavy discouragement against traveling to the city for the holiday, tourists are still here.

Bars several other French Quarter establishments have closed following Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Feb. 5 announcement of additional, temporary restrictions during Mardi Gras, including the police-barricaded closure of Bourbon Street.

With all of the confusion surrounding restrictions, closures, what’s open and what’s not, The Quarter Rat discovered a relic: an old map created years ago by the previous Quarter Rat Magazine overlords to help guide tourists around the Vieux Carre, and the surrounding area, without much confusion.

We offer no guarantees this map will help you find what you’re looking for, but hopefully it will lead you in the right direction.

French Quarter parking restrictions; street, park closures announced ahead of Mardi Gras holiday

(Photo: Brendan Riley | CC Flickr)
New Orleans will experience a vastly different Mardi Gras in 2021, if at all, with Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Feb. 5 announcing additional restrictions ahead of the holiday, including no packaged liquor in the French Quarter, a ban on to-go drinks, and bar closures and no live music across the entire fucking city.

The restrictions go into effect 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 and will last until 2 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Louisiana State Police will assist New Orleans Police, who were instructed to break-up gatherings, and possibly ticket or arrest those who do not comply.

In addition to the restrictions, there will be closures of several public spaces and parking restrictions all over the French Quarter.

Street closures limited access include:

  • Decatur Street: closure from Dumaine and Toulouse streets
  • Bourbon Street: limited access from Canal to Dumaine streets
  • Frenchmen Street: limited access in the 500 to 600 blocks

Park closures include:

  • Jackson Square: closure from Feb. 13 to Feb. 16
  • Armstrong Park: closure from Feb. 13 to Feb. 16, not including people driving into the Basin Street entrance to use the COVID-19 testing site or employees reporting to work
  • Washington Square: closure on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16

Washington Square will be monitored over the weekend and will be closed if “crowd activity” increases, according to officials.

No parking zones will be implemented on the following streets, between the intersections of Dauphine and Royal streets, from the hours of 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. between Feb. 12 and Feb. 17:

  • Iberville Street
  • Bienville Street
  • Conti Street
  • St. Louis Street
  • Toulouse Street
  • St. Peter Street
  • Orleans Street
  • St. Ann Street

Additionally, Canal Street will be closed from Convention Center Boulevard to Burgundy Street.

Bars closed; public access to Bourbon, Frenchmen streets limited with NOPD-manned barricades for Mardi Gras due to COVID-19

(Photo: Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras 2020. | Sergey Galyonkin | CC Flickr)
Bars were ordered closed and public access to several French Quarter streets, including Bourbon Street, will be limited with barricades manned by New Orleans Police officers over the Mardi Gras holiday as measures announced last week and are meant to limit spread of COVID-19.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the additional restrictions on Feb. 5, less than two weeks after she lowered business restrictions to “modified Phase Two,” which increased capacity for restaurants and other retail establishments, office buildings, among other locations, by 50%; and increased gathering sizes.

The restrictions will go into effect starting 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 and will last until 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Cantrell attributed her decision for extra measures to newly discovered variants of the coronavirus that could trigger a surge in cases and videos of Bourbon Street gatherings, which she blamed on college students.

“What we saw on Bourbon Street last weekeend, totally unacceptable,” Cantrell said at a Feb. 5 press conference. “Any mass gatherings have the potential of creating and being a superspreader in our community. This is dangerous.”

Positive coronavirus tests have trended downward in Orleans Parish, going from 265 new cases on Jan. 26 to 32 on Feb. 10, and 698 total deaths, according to data.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Department of Public Health director, gave an update last week: the city is averaging about two deaths each day, which she said was not unusual after a spike, but higher than the average for a “very, very long time.” But then, she also mentioned concern for the new coronavirus variants discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brasil, which are thought to be more contagious.

A study released Feb. 8 and included researchers from Tulane and Louisiana State universities concluded that Mardi Gras 2020 likely contributed up to

“The highest risk activities are close gatherings where people let their guard down, take their masks off and are close to each other for periods of time,” Avegno said.

In case you fucking forgot, the additional restrictions include:

  • Bars, including conditional permits, closed indoors and outdoors citywide.
  • No packaged liquor in the French Quarter.
  • A ban on to-go drinks.
  • No large gatherings, including for vending and street performances.

Additionally, Bourbon, Frenchmen and Decatur streets will be closed to pedestrians and vehicles from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., although restaurants and retail stores can remain open for visitors and residents.

New Orleans Police will limit vehicles entering the French Quarter to residents, employers, hotel guests, restaurant/retail patrons and taxis/ride-sharing companies between the boundaries of Canal, North Rampart, Dumaine and Decatur streets between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Street closures include:

  • Decatur Street: closure between Dumaine and Toulouse streets.
  • Bourbon Street: limited access between Canal and Dumaine.
  • Frenchmen Street: limited access to the 500 to 600 blocks.

Manned barricades will be placed on Royal and Dauphine streets between Canal and Dumaine streets, and along portions of Frenchmen street. Visitors, residents and shop employees will be allowed access. No loitering is allowed.

At her Feb. 5 press conference, Cantrell said she’s hopeful the city can strike a necessary balance between a safe and fun Mardi Gras, and believes the city will benefit from the increased business capacity, despite bar closures.

Many hospitality industry workers and businesses, particularly the ones that thrive on liquor sales, are pissed because people will be put out of work during what is normally the city’s busiest time of year. The Alibi, located at 811 Iberville St., let off a little steam on social media.

“Alibi will be closed for Mardi Gras. Thanks to Mayor LaToya. Bars with kitchens and restaurant permits are being grouped with to-go bars, clubs, places that are just bars. Thank you mayor for putting my staff and all lthe other service staff out of work for Mardi Gras. I’m sure all service industry not working appreciates your work.”

Krewe of Chewbacchus cancels Jan. 23 self-guided parade due to modified Phase One restrictions

(Photo: Krewe of Chewbacchus | Infrogmation | CC)
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, the Star Wars-named krewe known for its walking parade, announced Monday that it will cancel its Mardi Gras festivities scheduled later for this month due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Chewbacchus replaced its 11th annual walking parade with a self-guided tour of stationary subkrewes. This year’s theme was “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and was scheduled to run on Jan. 23.

The cancellation comes after New Orleans moved into modified Phase One restrictions on Friday due to surging rates of the coronavirus, which was reported at 10.4% last week–up from 5.5% the prior week, according to local health officials.

The krewe was already planning for its scaled-back walking tour, which was announced on Dec. 7. Instead, a virtual costume contest will now replace the walking tour.

“With the recent decision by the city of New Orleans to move to modified Phase 1, the 2021 celebration and all subKrewe activities will be halted,” according to Chewbacchus. “We are trusting the science and directing all krewe members to suspend their planned celebrations”

Instead, the krewe will hold a virtual costume contest and asking its krewe members, and the public, to post photos of their Chewbacchus costumes on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #chewbacchusnewreality2021.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Jan. 6 that the city will enter modified Phase One restrictions due to the surging coronavirus rate.

The restrictions, which will last three weeks or until Jan. 29, include limiting indoor business capacity to 25%, gathering sizes to no greater than a single household. Bars are prohibited from serving customers indoors, although to-go drinks are still allowed and outdoor seating is still allowed from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. New Orleans bars, breweries and live entertainment venues were ordered closed by 11 p.m.. Dec. 30.

“We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way,” Cantrell said during a Jan. 6 press conference, citing a “serious issue with community spread.” “We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way.”

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of New Orleans Health Department, said the city is averaging 200 new cases each day, indicating a major community outbreak with one in every person infected, on average.

“When you are with 10 other people, it is highly likely that one of them will have COVID-19,” Avegno said. “The more people who have it, the more will be hospitalized and more will die.”

New Orleans recorded a cumulative total of 23, 252 coronavirus infections and 689 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started in March, with an additional 380 new infections and two deaths reported Sunday.

City officials have released an vaccine distribution plan, with vaccinations of healthcare workers and nursing home residents beginning in December and essential workers likely up next this year.