Efforts are underway to save the restaurant industry

‘Great American Takeout Day’ encourages people to eat out - when restaurants need it the most

Great American Takeout Day fails to take off

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The entire restaurant industry is in jeopardy of collapsing because of the coronavirus outbreak.

That's why the National Restaurant Association suggested that Americans Just "buy a meal" on what was called the Great American Takeout Day.

It sounded great to locally-owned businesses, including Bergeron's Boudin & Cajun Meats of Shreveport.

Fortunately, management told us they have a very loyal and steady customer base. However, they also know their fellow restaurant and market owners need help right now.

Austin Andre, at Bergeron's on East Kings Highway, said they support the Great American Takeout Day, especially when you consider the restaurant industry is the country's second-largest private employer with 15.6 million workers.

In fact, Andre said he thinks customers will step up to support local businesses, like they have for his family-run operation.

“We’ve actually increased in business, you know, due to this stuff," he said. "I think people are just trying to support local. I think that’s the good thing about it, you know. We’re one of the lucky ones. I know it’s not the same for everybody.”

It turns out, Bergeron’s is in a unique situation. Not only does it cater to the home favorite cajun cuisine, but it is also a hybrid of sorts, combining its small dining area with its longtime to-go and take out order business.

Just the same, Andre was hoping this ‘Great American Takeout Day’ could also help their business, as well. However, that did not appear to materialize for them this Tuesday.

It was much the same just a few miles north at the El Jimador Supremo Mexican Grill on Shreveport-Barksdale Highway.

Just like Bergeron's, El Jimador management had also not heard anything about this Great American Takeout Day until we told them about it.

They too liked the idea — but didn’t see anything come of it on this day.

El Jimador is one of the many locally-owned and operated restaurants trying to weather through the coronavirus storm. The manager, Rosa Montes, said dine-in customers typically make up half their business.

So, with only take-out, delivery and curbside service being offered for now, they're only making about half of what they would typically make.

But, with 16 or so employees they are rotating hours to keep everyone working.

And Montes also pointed out how grateful they are for their loyal customers.

"Yeah, we thank God we didn't lose a whole lot of business. But like I said, we have a lot of support from our regulars and people are coming in because everybody's closing down. But we're gonna try until they shut us down. But we are thinking about safety.

Montes says they're happy to hear about the coalition of restaurants that came up with this "Great American Takeout Day" and hope it serves as a reminder to the public that it's not just some restaurants that need help to survive, but the industry as a whole.

But Montes and others fear the stay home order, issued in Louisiana by Governor John Bel Edwards, may not end as soon as many had hoped.

And the longer it continues, the more restaurants could be in jeopardy of going out of business.

We also came across one of the dozens of food delivery drivers in the Shreveport-Bossier area these days.

Leon Hinkle with On The Go Delivery described the business right now as very up and down, with little certainty about what’s right around the corner for his industry, as well.

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