Chicken stew over rice paired with sides of potato salad and cornbread was the featured lunch Lumiere Blues & Jazz Bistro served to hungry patrons when it first opened in Houma only three months ago. After being disrupted by Hurricane Ida, the bistro is starting to serve its homestyle meals again but with a limited menu.
The bistro, located downtown in a building that was built to house Houma’s first municipal-owned electric generator, suffered minor roof damage and a few leaks. The neighboring unit space, however, wasn’t as fortunate – having collapsed and spilled over onto the street.
“We were very blessed,” said Mitzi Rieve, a co-owner and general manager of Lumiere, regarding the damage the bistro sustained compared to the devastating sight next door.
Owners of the restaurant have been on-site daily since Ida, cleaning, making sure their inventory stays fresh while also cooking up meals and food donations that were given to firefighters and others who have been helping with recovery efforts. The restaurant has also fed its own staff, Rieve said.
“We had all of our employees come out, we cooked for them and fed them and their families,” Rieve said.
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On Wednesday, Rieve said the restaurant was not set up completely to reopen, as other businesses have been able to do so already, but the bistro was looking forward to when it can so it can provide an opportunity for its employees to return to work.
Two days later, the bistro announced on Facebook that it is open for take-out orders (cash payment only) with a limited menu.
As of Friday morning, the bistro continued to use generator power. Lunches will vary daily while supplies last. The bistro is not serving from its regular menu at this time, nor have regular business hours been determined.
‘Keeping good hopes’
Across town, Danion Coston used quick skill and a sharp knife Wednesday morning to prep for the lunch rush at Big Al’s Seafood Restaurant on Tunnel Boulevard.
“We’ve all been keeping good hopes,” Coston said. “We’re all trying to keep each other happy and everything.”
The restaurant reopened Saturday, Sept. 4, with a limited menu and reduced business hours, and then used the next few following days for a break and to regather before serving lunch again Wednesday.
“Feels good to be back to work. Got a little lonesome sitting at home. I’m actually glad to see some of these grouchy faces sometimes,” he said with a grin. He added that the time together has been a chance for them to check on each other since the storm.
Coston lost an orange tree and a few shingles off his home, but it was otherwise undamaged. The situation for fellow cook Gloria Smith, however, is drastically different.
“You gotta laugh; people crying, baby,” Smith said with an upbeat tone from across the kitchen.
Although her three-bedroom, two-bathroom trailer sustained damage, she has taken in several family members since the storm; including her two sons, a daughter-in-law, grandchildren and cousins.
She has tarps to cover the holes in the roof but she needs more, she said. The hallway is lined with buckets for when it rains, and their mattresses are kept in the front room.
They have a generator that they use for air conditioning at night. Finding fuel for the generator has been difficult, she said, but the trick is to leave early to beat the lines. She said they wake up at 5 a.m. to find fuel.
Smith said it isn’t comfortable living, but “you gotta do what you gotta do.”
— Emily Enfinger is a reporter for The Courier and the Daily Comet. Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyEnfinger. Email Emily at [email protected]. Courier and Daily Comet reporter Kezia Setyawan contributed.