NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Locals and tourists alike are beating the boredom and drowning their sorrows at a Bourbon Street bar that is open for business post-Hurricane Ida despite a lack of power.
Longtime bartender and New Orleans native David Ihrig said that the decision to open was a no-brainer. But unlike its previous predecessor at the corner of Bourbon and Orleans, the iconic Johnny White’s Bar, which permanently closed in September 2020 due to COVID-19, opening the day after the storm just made more sense.
“A lot of it has to do with the old Johnny White’s that we had here,” Ihrig told WGNO on Tuesday. “They didn’t close during [Hurricane] Katrina at all, so we wanted to do that, but when it was a category 5 I chose not to. I thought the next day would be appropriate. I knew a lot of people would be walking around and everybody wants somewhere to go. We have a lot of people visiting and I wanted to be there for them.”
While much of the clientele have been French Quarter locals, like one couple Tim and Colleen who have been coming to the location for the past 35-40 years, there were those with luggage in hand such as a 27-year-old tourist Francesca Paragas.
“No power anywhere,” said Paragras, a Virginia native whose flight home was canceled following the storm and is now stuck with two companions waiting for back home. “This bar was the only bar open on Bourbon Street and it seems like everyone is here. We are sharing common stories on about being able to get out and such, so I am very, very thankful for this bar being open. It has toned down the mood and made everything better.”
According to Ihrig, who is always accompanied by his loyal dog Janet, good spirits are flowing both in and out of the glass with nearly everyone who walks through the doors. Luke warm beer is on the menu, and bar closes at dark. And don’t forget to mask up and show your vaccination card.
“People are acting like the want to be in a hurry to leave now, but they are not,” said Ihrig. “They don’t want to go home, man. They are having a good time as long as a couple of us are open and they can be out of their responsibilities and they are still in New Orleans.
“Yesterday there was a guy out here with a trumpet and played and I thought that is a great New Orleans moment right there.”