Bars operating as restaurants under phase three


Several bars in downtown Hammond have reopened under phase three, such as The Brown Door, Cate Street Pub and Brady’s. There are still capacity limits and limited hours of operations, but businesses have still been able to reopen to the public.

While social distancing and other safety protocols are still in place, some businesses are not letting that prevent their customers from being able to go out for a good time.

Under phase three restrictions, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that restaurants can open with 75% capacity.

In order to keep their business afloat, some bars have altered into restaurants so that they can reopen and serve customers.

Brett Hollis, manager of The Brown Door in downtown Hammond, shared that he added a restaurant side to the bar to allow for reopening.

“What we did is we put in a kitchen,” explained Hollis. “The Brown Door is now a restaurant on one side and a bar on the other. The restaurant allows us to open under the guidelines.”

In a press conference on Sept. 11, Edwards suggested that bars with a kitchen could get a license to operate as a restaurant.

“He tried to give bars ways that they could open, cause he knows that a lot of bar owners are broke right now,” mentioned Hollis. “The main way that he told bars in Louisiana was to add a kitchen, add food. We got a new license, so we now have a food and alcohol license.”

In addition to capacity, another new guideline is that bars must close at 11 p.m. Hollis explained how his staff handled closing time on their first night of reopening.

“We stayed open until 11,” shared Hollis. “The guidelines specifically say you have to have everyone out at 11. You have to stop serving drinks at 11, so we stopped serving drinks at 10:45. We start getting everyone out at 10:50 so everyone can be out by 11, which is far different because in the past, people would be here until 2. There’s a lot of new guidelines where people have to leave earlier, leave by certain times, last calls, all that stuff.”

According to Hollis, he had no issues closing on time, but rather he had a long line of patrons waiting for the entire night.

“The problem was that too many people wanted to come,” explained Hollis. “We had a long line for most of the night. But they handled it well. There was a lot of stress having people in the bar again, and our staff hasn’t been to work in a while, so they had to shake the rust off on a pretty challenging night. They did well, the customers were happy that they could come back. That was definitely very nice.”

Hollis also has some of his employees managing how many people come into the restaurant so that they do not exceed the capacity limit.

“On the restaurant side, it’s pretty easy to track tables,” said Hollis. “On the bigger side, it’s more so people. If large groups are congregating, we get to spread them out. We have a person at each doorway monitoring. We have a lot of security at every doorway for that purpose.”

Staff members are required to wear face coverings, and hand sanitizer is provided at multiple locations throughout the facility, according to Hollis.

“All of our staff wears a face mask,” stated Hollis. “We have hand sanitizer everywhere. We encourage our customers to wear masks, but it gets hot and sweaty in a bar, so a lot of them take it off, but we obviously want everybody to wear a mask and be as safe as possible. We try to go the extra step and provide hand sanitizer and make our staff wear the masks. We have disposable cups, disposable utensils, disposable straws. Whenever a customer uses it, it goes in the trash.”

Since reopening, Hollis mentioned that he has not dealt with anyone protesting the reopening of bars. Instead, he feels as though people are relieved that they can go out again.

“We’ve had a lot of questions from people asking what the guidelines are, and we try to post them on our social media and let everyone know when they come in,” shared Hollis. “I’m fairly certain that people want to come out safely and follow the rules and have a safe, fun night, so we’re just trying to make that happen for everybody.”