SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) -Downtown Shreveport has slowly begun turning into a ghost town over the last few weeks, and it’s all thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s heartbreaking for all of these businesses that have put their hearts, their souls, their money…everything into this only to see themselves be shut down," said Liz Swaine.
Swaine is the executive director of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority and says they’ve done everything they can to try and help these businesses.
“We are meeting, talking about are there ways we can assist... how can we lobby, who can we talk to, how can we use our website, use our social media and we’ve been aggressive in doing that,” she said.
On top of that they Swaine says she’s asked property owners to consider stopping or reducing rent, and they’ve even put up free 15 minute parking signs to encourage people to stop and get more to-go orders.
“We just wanted it to be easier for people to access their services,” she said.
For Beaux Hays, he’s done everything from reducing prices, offering specials, and he’s even dressed up as a taco to get people into his downtown restaurant Parish Taceaux.
“Right now in the city, every single restaurant has had to change their model overnight,” he said. “Every restaurant is coming in wondering ‘what can I do today that’s different...what can I do to try and get people to notice me."
Hays says he’s generally an optimistic person, but he is worried about the future when it comes to this restaurant.
“You have to wonder at the end of the day how viable is it...how viable is the new model,” he said. " Are you going to be able to make enough just doing to go and curbside food only or delivery even to stay afloat you know."
For Megan Hochstetler, having to shut down the Robinson Film Center but still maintain their restaurant upstairs has been challenging.
“We’re a movie theater and a restaurant and both of those depend on gathering and so when you can no longer gather you just have to completely rethink the way that we do business,” she said.
Luckily they’ve also gotten creative during this time.
“We’re launching daily virtual programming on Facebook,” said Hochstetler.
Every day the community can visit their Facebook page and watch something different as well as engage with staff to help spark conversations.
While things have been rough, Hochstetler knows they’ll find a way to get through it.
“Everything is uncertain but this has always been a very tenacious and scrappy little organization and so I’m confident that we’re going to come back and regain full strength,” she said. "It’s a matter of when and how and what exactly that will look like, but we are super committed to remaining a vital part of this arts organization, and this downtown community
Swaine says the DDA has used its website to help spotlight local artist during this time. When it comes to the free 15 minute parking signs, she says they’ll keep them up for as long as needed.