Wednesday, May 31, 2006
French Quarter bar making final 'last call'
New Orleans, with its famous French Quarter is still loud, wild and rambunctious. People are still allowed to drink alcohol in the streets and they party accordingly. But there is a different feeling here since Hurricane Katrina. Somehow, it feels the like fun and frivolity have been minimized. There are not as many people vacationing here, and therefore, not as much business. As a result, many clubs, bars, and restaurants are in trouble, if they haven't closed already.

Case in point, the Deep South Lounge, a bar in the French Quarter. The owner, Louis, opened it up a few years ago. Business had been booming. He bought a mechanical bull, encouraged bachelor and bachelorette parties, and was having the time of his life with jam-packed weekends in his business. But then came Katrina, and with it, an exodus of locals and the disappearance of tourists. Louis told me he would gross about $4,000 on a good weekend night. Last weekend, he only grossed about $600. He can no longer afford to stay open, so this week he decided to shut the doors on his dream business.

Other businesses are also having a tough time making a buck, but some are sticking it out due to deeper pockets or deeper resolve. The Voodoo Barbecue's business is down 50 percent from last year, according to the owner, and she's now digging into her financial reserves to keep it open. But she and her employees say they believe the city -- and their business -- will come back.

City officials tell us they expect a rebound and are encouraged that conventions are starting to return to New Orleans. But it could be three or four years before the comeback is considered complete, providing there are no more Katrinas.

And that is the underlying fear here. Odds are there won't be another Katrina-magnitude storm here for a long time to come. But as we enter another hurricane season, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone here who doesn't think about that possibility.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 6:52 PM ET
It is not the possibility of another storm that would keep me away from New Orleans but rather the eerie feeling of partying on what is now pretty much a cemetary. I would feel the same way if a dance club was to be build on the World Trade Center site. It is unfortunate but sadly true.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills, CA : 7:06 PM ET
The party is over. With places like Vegas to go to this hell hole is through.
Posted By Anonymous GR,LA,CA : 7:29 PM ET
There are other U.S. cities which have survived great catastrophes (San Francisco, Chicago and Galveston immediately come to mind), so I have no doubt New Orleans will once again become a strong, vibrant city.

But it's going to take time, a lot of time, before New Orleans recovers. Unfortunately, many of the current businesses located in the city will not be able to hang on until then.

The New Orleans of the future will be different, but I have no doubt it will once again become a unique American treasure.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:36 PM ET
I think that people have to try to forget Katrina, and bring the business back to New Orleans. The culture, pride and heritage of New Orleans should remain a reason for people to vacation and spend money in New Orleans. This is the only way we can keep this hot spot alive.
Posted By Anonymous Nevin, Pittsburgh, PA : 7:46 PM ET
With the coverage we are seeing - especially through CNN, the prospect of actually going to New Orleans is not very appealing at this time. The people that still have to rebuild should be first on the list & they are still the forgotten ones, unfortunately. There is so much that has yet to be completed before they see any improvement in tourism. It is a sad commentary on the levels of politics, that they are still in this situation 9 months after the fact.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly,Edmonton, AB Canada : 7:58 PM ET
In my opinion, New Orleans is a city of such historic importance and one of the more unique cities in the United States. It is quite sad that the government could have done more to minimize the damage caused by Katrina. I have read that the government knew about the shortcomings of the levee systems and did nothing about it? For the sake of the people, I hope that the city can bounce back. But in order for that to happen, we have to make sure that the city is really prepared for another disaster like Katrina. Please don't tell me the levee system hasn't seen much improvement since the disaster.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Nashville, TN : 8:01 PM ET
It's upsetting to read this after all the promises to rebuilt "bigger and better". New Orleans will be back. What happened? It feels like we don't have hope in this country anymore. Are there no promises kept anymore?
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 8:13 PM ET
The Cresent City has always been a place of fun, nestled admist historic buildings and shrowded in southern elegance. I lived on the coast before and after Katrina, and having mucked out houses in St Bernard Parish and then gone out on the French Quarter, I don't think there is any better way to pay homage to lives lost and the spirit of the city than to visit. Please, we need you!
Posted By Anonymous S. Biloxi, MS : 8:13 PM ET
As a hurricane Andrew (1992) survivor and seeing how southern Miami and Homestead were pretty much destroyed following the hurricane, and seeing the rebuilding after 3 to 4 years, New Orleans will be more vibrant than it was before Katrina. Cities always rebound and the investment following devastation revitalizes the economy. It just takes time. And it was another 13 years between Andrew and the latest bunch of storms that even came close to Miami. I am sure New Orleans will have a long period of time between the next one. They just need to prepare better, and of course.... REMEMBER!
Posted By Anonymous D Schilling, Miami Florida : 8:14 PM ET
Hi Gary,
Katrina was a real life disaster..Not a Hollywood movie where everything is in tip, top shape by the time the credits roll..It will take time, it will take the people of America staying involved, and it will take money..All you can do is keep the story alive in the media..Maybe we could have a national lottery and try to raise funds for the area..One step at a time...I don't believe for one single second that it's hopeless..It may feel like it once and awhile but as with most things it's only over when we give up..We can't change what happened but we can do anything and everything to help put it back together again. Mother Nature will always win but she can't stop us from trying with all our might to REBUILD..Take care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 8:22 PM ET
I think what people, especially people that haven't been to the city since the hurricane, don't realize is that many parts of the city are back to life. The French Quarter is pretty much as full and vibrant as it ever was before the storm; most of its businesses have been up and running for months and are waiting for tourists, but unfortunately many individuals have a terrible misunderstanding of the state of the city.
Posted By Anonymous David, New Orleans, LA : 8:29 PM ET
I was seriously going to vacation in New Orleans this summer until I read Dr. Sanja Gupta's blog about the hospitals and medical care. Geez, you would think that everyone could get their act together by now. What a terrible public farce this has been. I still can't believe this happened in our own country. How embarrassing!!!!
Posted By Anonymous B.A. Taylor Nacogdoches, TX : 8:35 PM ET
For the last 4 yers, my girlfriends and I have been to New Orleans to celebrate my birthday. Out of respect for the people of New Orleans, we skipped out this year. Just didn't seem right. However, you can bet that we will be there next year! We were lost this year without our yearly trip. There is NO PLACE like it! Vegas doesn't even come close to NOLA!
Posted By Anonymous Diane Oliveira, Providence, RI : 8:46 PM ET
Thanks for this report Gary,

I'm sorry to say that I will not be visiting NOLA any time some. Nobody wants to hang out with a bunch of clean up crews. The place just isn't the same without the people who were the heart and soul that made NOLA the place it once was.
Posted By Anonymous Donna, Minneapolis, MN : 8:57 PM ET
Having just vacationed recently in New Orlean's French Quarter, I can tell you that it is still a great place to go. Yes, the crowds are down, but it is still a fantastic place to go and enjoy yourself. The French Quarter was largely untouched by the flooding, so at times you would have no idea what occurred. Stay at the Royal Sonesta right on Bourbon Street, great place, just ask CNN, it is where they stay when they go into town!
Posted By Anonymous Scott Sweeney, Milwaukee, WI : 8:57 PM ET
As good as the coverage of the destruction in New Orleans has been on CNN. Television does not do justice to the extent of damage here. Neighborhoods remain largely deserted and the city is a mess. However, all of the areas that most tourist visit when they come to New Orleans are back open. Please come and support this city.
Posted By Anonymous Mike C. N.O., LA : 9:02 PM ET
What planet is Gary Tuckman on? Did he spend his visit fretting in his room?

My girlfriend and I, frequent visitors to New Orleans, just returned from Memorial Day weekend there. We stayed at Hotel Monteleone, hit all our favorite clubs, and had a blast eating, drinking and dancing the days and nights away.

The French Quarter was up and running with just a few exceptions, like Brennan's and Commanders Palace. The Garden District seemed okay when we went to Tipintinas.

We realize most of the city is still horribly wounded, but the places that are operating deserve a lot of credit and fearmonger reports are not going to help them any.
Posted By Anonymous Larry Richardson, Delray Beach, FL : 9:09 PM ET
New Orleans can never compare to Vegas or any other city in the US!!! The spirit, charm and history of that city is unique beyond words. This Northerner cannot wait to go back to NOLA. The people of New Orleans are always in my heart. "Laissez le bon temps rouler!"
Posted By Anonymous DL, New Hampshire : 9:11 PM ET
I work in this city 2-3 days a week. Until the city itself learns to control it's own corruption, not have it's hand out for what it deams as money owed to them, and learns that it has to do it on it's own... there will be no revitalization. They are all waiting for a federal free for all that will never happen. Chalmette will be rebuilt before New Orleans is, because the people there want to rebuild it on their own. There is a sense of pride in where they came from.

New Orleans is going to take decades to recover from this, if they ever do.
Posted By Anonymous b, baton rouge, la : 9:57 PM ET
I met a young entrepeneur at the French Quarter Fest - a pre-Jazz Fest jazzfest - 3 day event held every April in the Quarter. He was selling T-Shirts that said "New Orleans - So far behind, we're ahead". New Orleans has always seen disaster (hurricanes, floods and in the old days malaria and yellow fever). New Orleans has always been economically viable, but for the most part never a long-term boom town. It has always changed, from the indians, to the Spanish, to the French, to the Americans. Migration has always played a role, breaking new cultures and leaving a unique mix - gumbo for example. Today we now can choose between a Shrimp Po-Boys or Tamales. Great informal mobile taco stands have popped all over the city and are actually getting rave reviews by the local papers. Diverisity and cultural exchange is alive and well, if not better. Who knows, maybe in 3 years we will have a professional soccer team and direct flights to Brazil. Never a Vegas and thank god. Speed is an enemy of culture. New Orleans has always simmered in its mix of cultures. "So far behind, we're ahead". Come to New Orleans, get out of the Quarter, go to Lola's on Esplanade, or Dick and Jenny's on Tchopatoulis, spend time on the lake front fishin, catch the Soul Rebels brass band for free at Le Bon Temps every thursday but be prepared to sweat because its packed. New Orleans is still steeping in eclectic mix of people who are here because they would rather be no where else. Come and join us!!!
Posted By Anonymous Ed, Nola : 10:01 PM ET
We're in the fight of our lives... Please come down and support the city... This city still has its heart and soul... The primary reason people keep coming back... Be a New Orleanian where ever you live...
Posted By Anonymous Louie Bonnecarre, New Orleans, La. : 10:05 PM ET
It saddens me to think that anyone who ever had even the smallest place in their heart for New Orleans in any way, shape or form would be so quick to abandon one of the true historical treasures of the U.S. I am born/raised in Chicago and my fiance and I had decided to marry in NOLA prior to Katrina. Once we realized that a Vieux Carre wedding was still feasible after Katrina, we did not hesitate to continue on with our intentions and we will be married at Broussard's on 6/03/06. I emplore all of you who ever appreciated all that New Orleans has to offer to return and put money back into the economy in some fashion.
Posted By Anonymous Tony LoGiurato, Chicago-IL : 12:16 AM ET
With all the problems in this country of ours I should worry about a bar going out of business....don't think so! Do not get me wrong, I certainly support the people of New Orleans and their culture,(obviously more than our federal government does) but I draw the line at going out of my way to support a bar or even giving it a second thought. This country of ours, New Orleans included is in deep trouble politically, economically, medically, socially, environmentally, from corporate America, etc. I suggest we as Americans focus on the upcoming elections and, hopefully clean house! Maybe then, with a new slate we can all prosper in many more ways than financial and return America to the once outstanding country it once was.
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 12:40 AM ET
My husband and i love New Orleans and always will. I also believe in time they will return this is not the first disaster that has struck the city more then likely not the last. I plan on going to New Orleans for the first time post katrina not only with my husband but a group of friends. It wont be much but i plan to spend my tourist money and give a little back to the city ilove. I wont stay away so easy
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 3:49 PM ET
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