Hospitality workers are an essential part of New Orleans' tourism industry, and unfortunately among those who have been hit the hardest during the coronavirus pandemic. You meet them in the taxi driver who welcomes you to the city, the restaurant manager who gives you recommendations on how to spend the rest of your night, the musician on the corner of Frenchmen Street, the concierge who gets you into the hottest spots in town, and the bartender who pours your new favorite cocktail. They are the core of who we are as a city.
With the pandemic forcing many restaurants, bars, hotels, and nightclubs to close, industry workers have been left stranded. Many funds have been established to support hospitality workers in response, but the community has responded in their own way by doing what they do best: providing a hot meal, free of charge to those in need. Here’s a roundup of where hospitality workers can get free meals during the pandemic.
Blue Oak BBQ is offering a free lunch to hospitality workers every Friday from noon until they run out. Past meals have included green curry chicken from Banana Blossom and Ramona organic wine spritzes. They’ll be located at 3300 Gravier St. and encourage service industry workers, musicians, and all who are currently laid off due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 to stop by.
The Restaurant Workers Relief Program is offering free meals and supplies to those in need every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-3 p.m. at Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St.). Make sure to bring a valid state ID along with a recent pay stub or bank direct deposit confirmation showing proof of New Orleans restaurant employment.
Toups Meatery in Mid-City is offering a Family Meal every day at 3 p.m. free of charge for the needy and especially those in the service industry. Call (504) 252-4999 to secure your box. Past family meals have included red beans and braised oxtails over Louisiana rice, rabbit and lentil stew, and Chef Isaac’s famous chicken and sausage gumbo. Debbie Does Doberge, French Truck Coffee, and Dixie Beer have also donated various food items to the cause. Bring an ID if you would like a beer.
The Howlin' Wolf and The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic have teamed up to offer meals for all entertainers, hospitality, and service industry workers every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-2 p.m. Meals will be served at 907 S Peters St.
Cafe Carmo has free meals for anyone who may need it Tuesday through Friday with vegan and gluten-free options available. Meals can be picked up at 1:30 p.m. Secure your order online here. They ask that those who can make a donation will do so on a sliding scale, so that they can continue to offer this service.
Palm & Pine has free meals for service industry workers on Mondays from 2-5 p.m. at their French Quarter restaurant.
Port Orleans Brewing Co. has launched POB United, a program that will be offering free meals to laid off service industry workers twice a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., 500 meals will be served each day at 4124 Tchoupitoulas St. With the money raised through POB United donations, they will be able to purchase goods from local food partners and will then be able to employ local chefs with their teams to cook free meals for those in need.
The Ruby Slipper Café now prepares free hospitality meals at its four area locations that are still open for take-out (Mid-City, Marigny, Uptown, and Old Metairie) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Call 504-525-9355 to place your order.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, the group that owns over two dozen area restaurants, bars, and daiquiri shops, is offering their former employees daily meals available for pickup at Broussard’s in New Orleans and Boulevard American Bistro in Metairie. They’ve been preparing over 1,500 meals for former employees and their families everyday and will be doing so for as long as it is financially feasible. See here for more information.
The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group is offering free meals twice weekly at Red Fish Grill to all 531 employees/ former employees. The three-course Free Family Meal, created to feed a household of four, features rotating dishes like hearty Minestrone Soup, Creole Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya, and Pineapple Carrot Cake with Coconut Glaze.
The newly-launched Dickie Brennan project, The Commissary, is open and serving hospitality workers and musicians once a week at their 634 Orange St. location.
In collaboration with Son of A Saint and the Berger/Tiller family, The Windsor Court Hotel's Executive Chef Vlad Ahmadyarov and his team are preparing family-style meals for those in need, three days a week. Meals are available through Son of A Saint.
In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer will be providing a free drive-up food pantry for hospitality and gig economy workers affected by COVID-19. The drive-up food pantry will take place every Tuesday at Connect Church of Algiers (1110 Kabel Dr.), every Thursday and Saturday at Holy Angels (3500 St. Claude Ave.), and every Friday at All Saints Catholic Church (1441 Teche St.) and Berean Bible Church (3712 Herschel St.) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
District Donuts is offering their Brown Bag lunch for $8 for both service and medical industry workers. The meal comes with a choice of two Cheeseburgers or Chicken Sliders, Waffle Fries, and a soda. Code HOSPITALITY can be used on District’s app or online for placing that order. With the “Share a Dozen” promotion, a half dozen glazed donuts will go to those working on the front lines with your purchase of a half dozen variety donuts for $20. As part of your purchase, you’re invited to leave a short encouraging note for the recipients.
Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria is offering a $5 service industry worker/ front line worker promotion. For $5, get a burrito of your choice, plus a bottled beer or beverage. See here for details.
Sofia is offering a service industry meal from 4-6 p.m. daily. The meal is $4 for 1/2 pizza, ($6 for full pie), plus a beer or bottle of water, and a side salad.
Reginelli's Pizzeria has a $10 large cheese pizza promotion for everyone in the service industry. The pizza feeds 2-4 people.