Caterers provide food for smaller New Year’s Eve gatherings amid the COVID surge

They are grateful for the business as the new year rolls in.
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 9:21 PM CST
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Caterers see evidence of people holding smaller gatherings this New  Year's Eve due to the...
Caterers see evidence of people holding smaller gatherings this New Year's Eve due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Amid government warnings against large New Year’s Eve gatherings some caterers see evidence of people downsizing their holiday parties but they are still grateful for the end of the year business.

Ellis Lanaux is CEO of Langensteins.

“Yes, sandwiches are always a really popular item for all the holidays, for parties, getting people together,” said Lanaux as he stood next to prepared trays of finger sandwiches.

He said business has demand for catered food has been good.

“It’s been very strong so far. You know, we’ve been getting a lot of orders for our party trays, sandwiches,” said Lanaux.

Customers came in for already prepared dishes of traditional New Year’s Day food as well.

“Their black-eyed peas and cabbage, so it’s been a good season for us,” Lanaux stated.

Miles away at Zuppardo’s Family Market in Metairie Joe Zuppardo, one of the owners said orders for party trays has also been robust.

“We are making corn beef and cabbage, we’re doing mini muffuletta trays, all of our catering has kicked into high gear this time of year,” said Zuppardo.

This New Year’s holiday comes as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urges people to celebrate only with there households due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant which is highly contagious.

Also, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser said gatherings should only include people who are vaccinated and who have had booster shots.

“I definitely think there’s a lot of that going on, people having smaller home parties rather than going out, you know, trying to stay safe and you know protect their loved ones, so this kind of option makes a lot of sense for that,” Lanaux stated.

The pandemic continues to affect holiday planning.

“So instead of having one big block party where someone comes and gets hundreds of finger sandwiches, there’s a bunch of individual parties and everybody’s getting a hundred sandwiches,” said Zuppardo.

And Zuppardo said they are seeing signs of gathering inching up in size this holiday season.

“The parties are getting a little bit bigger than they were a couple of years ago, so I think people are feeling a little more comfortable but they’re still being cautious.”

Next to the French Quarter at the Basin Street Station, on the fourth floor a wedding will take place at Rooftop on Basin.

George Messina owns that event space and Messina’s Catering and Events.

“We have a wedding tonight for about a hundred people, they’re very excited about it, very nice couple, looking forward to having their wedding on New Year’s Eve here tonight,” said Messina.

FOX 8 asked Messina how the catering business is currently going.

“It’s going I would say, okay, we feel really busy but it’s not like pre-COVID 2019 numbers or anything like that, you know, just struggle like you hear about the restaurant business with a shortage of labor, and we have the same issues,” he said.

Messina made a comparison of bookings for this New Year’s Eve compared to better years.

“For a night like tonight maybe five or six and tonight we have I think three on the books, the main thing too is that most of the parties are smaller in size, you know, we’re normally doing 200 to 300 people, you know a hundred people, 125 is the max right now,” said Messina.

He hopes 2022 provides more business opportunities.

“Hopefully next year we get back to doing those big, extravagant New Year’s Eve events,” said Messina.

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