"For those establishments that planned to close for this weekend to perform renovations or provide their staff the holiday off is understandable, but a major missed opportunity," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told WDSU Saturday."But for those that do not want to serve our visitors during Essence is absolutely outrageous and totally unacceptable." On Thursday, "The Grapevine," a New Orleans radio call-in show on WBOK hosted by Gralen B."When other restaurants around us would close during Essence, they'd call it a 'black out.' They'd close because they didn't want to deal with black customers." Philipe La Mancusa, a chef who has worked in a variety of French Quarter restaurant kitchens and bars, recalled blunt workplace conversations about race dating back decades.Word of large crowds moving through the Quarter would travel from restaurant to restaurant via phone, La Mancusa said.
The 24-year-old African-American explained that he used to work in the French Quarter, at Montrel's Bistro, a restaurant owned by family members that closed in 2013.
All these businesses are either in the Quarter or within walking-distance of the Dome.
All also had excuses for closing that appear either valid or suspect, depending on the observer.
Others began doing the same, including during Bayou Classic.
The #Closed For Essence hashtag was born during this period, as was the practice of calling out restaurants perceived to be discriminating against black customers.