One famous New Orleans’ restaurant closed their doors earlier this year in March, but they kept their kitchen actively busy, and this month Commander’s Palace reopens its picturesque dining rooms, according to a nola.com profile.
Friday, September 11 marks the resumption of full restaurant services with the kitchen and staff beginning with only dinner and weekend brunch, planning of course to expand in the future. This return to normal is much-appreciated by the local community, where the dining rooms are a favorite location known for its quality service and cuisine.
As expected, Commander’s Palace plans to reopen its doors with the all-too-familiar social distancing safety measures such as spacing increases between tables, required masks, among a plethora of other things, though the restaurant management is also using this reopening strategy as an opportunity to expand its reach and menu.
When doors reopen in mid September, Commander’s Palace will also reincorporate pecan-crusted fish and bread pudding souffle to their offering, since the time away from serving customers table-side has allowed the experienced chefs to experiment with their dishes and introduce new methods of cooking and preparation to the time-tested menu items.
In a similar theme of innovation, the time in which the restaurant closed their dining rooms allowed for management to open up new lines of business and offer a plethora of services to the community as they expanded their food takeout program, collaborated with a national shipping service to serve and send out complete dishes and dinner bundles to Commander’s fans from all over, and the restaurant held weekly virtual wine and cheese parties, drawing hundreds of online attendees.
These new services provided by Commander’s Palace are housed next door to the traditional restaurant in an adjacent building that was previously used as restaurant offices. Now, the cottage found on Washington Avenue has been renamed to Le Petit Bleu, and it serves the community as a walk-up takeout restaurant shop and a home base for other ventures.
Just because the management was forced to close its doors doesn’t mean that work slowed down, it just diversified into other areas. For instance Ti Martin, who runs Commander’s Palace with her cousin, Lally Brennan, gathered all managers of the business to take a hard look at their staff policies, procedures, and program through the lens of not only the new safety restrictions but also influenced by the ongoing national conversation of racial equality and inclusion. Martin reported to Nola.com that she is proud of the steps her company has taken in the past, including but not limited to diversity training and staff recruiting efforts. Though steps were taken, Martin was vocal about the need for work yet to be done not just by the restaurant’s staff and management but also by the industry at large.
Opening the Commander’s Palace doors doesn’t only mean that the refined and praised services are expanding, as the management has expanded their benefits package to add additional sick leave. In addition, the wonders are seeking out more minority-owned businesses as purveyors and they’ve revamped an internal program designed to familiarize staff members on how to advance upward within the company, called “Pathways to Success.”
When interviewed about her restaurant’s plan to reopen by nola.com, Martin stated, “this starts with our people. There’s a faint hint of hope that fall is approaching and things will get better. So we’re giving this the college try. We’re trying for our team, for our city, and we’re trying to survive like anyone else in the business.” Many New Orleans visitors and locals have shown support for the oft-praised restaurant during its time of closing, but the community at large is excited to see the new direction the management takes upon reopening.
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