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As Louisiana enters phase one, restaurants welcome diners back

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BATON ROUGE - The sights of waiters taking orders or diners sipping a cocktail at the bar were once taken for granted. After a stay-at-home order spanning nearly two months, they are being treated like luxuries. 

"It was fantastic, Albert Taylor said Friday night, following a dinner out. "We've been looking forward to it ever since they announced that they were going to open some restaurants. The meal was delicious, we had a ball."

Taylor's first meal out since the stay-at-home order expired was at Rouj Creole on Perkins Road. 

"My first meal back was a redfish covered with some wonderful crabmeat," Taylor said. 

Diners weren't the only ones looking forward to 'phase one' of the reopening plan.

"I was singing to the radio for the first time in the car on my way here in two months," Rouj Creole Assistant Manager, Meghann Young said. 

Since Monday's announcement that the state would re-open many businesses, including restaurants, the staff at Rouj Creole spent hours to get the dining room in compliance with guidelines. 

"I was here with a tape measure myself to make sure that every table and every chair was the distance it was supposed to be apart," Young said.

Between seating both outdoors and indoors, Rouj can have 17 tables due to the 25 percent capacity requirement. By Friday evening, most of the tables were filled.

"We were able to get enough tables in here for it to really still feel like a restaurant and have that ambiance and vibe that we're looking for," Young said. 

Even with a modified dining room, there were no complaints from those looking to get out of the house.

"We enjoy the camaraderie with the waiters and the waitress, and the bartender," Taylor said. "It's just a lot of fun."

For many restaurants, it will be a balancing act for the first few shifts, but Rouj Creole is happy to be seating diners again.

"It's like the night before you go on a big trip," Young said. "You're excited, but you're anxious. Did I forget something?"


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