Vu "Phat" Le, owner of Chow Yum Phat. Photo by Collin Richie.

From ‘225’ magazine: Baton Rouge’s tenacious restaurant community pushes through Covid-19

Restaurant dining rooms were eerily empty. For weeks, they were roped off. Chairs were stacked on tables, lights were dimmed, and liquor bottles collected dust.

But back of the house, kitchens still glowed. Small crews kept cooking, kept serving.

In the beginning, the decision to stay open for takeout and delivery seemed to be about restaurant owners keeping their businesses alive.

But as Louisiana’s stay-at-home order dragged on and COVID-19 cases climbed, that decision grew into something more. Restaurants made meals for health care workers and those in need. Competitors became collaborators, fighting not just to keep their own eateries afloat, but to keep their neighbors open, too. Chefs who flexed their creativity with plating found ways to make food in styrofoam boxes interesting. Cooks and servers hopped on bikes, going beyond their job descriptions to deliver meals. And they all risked their own health to give the rest of us the tiniest sense of comfort in one of the strangest, darkest times we can remember.

The Baton Rouge dining scene has really hit its stride the past few years. The cool new openings and delicious flavors have made us all proud to live here. Click here to read 225 magazine’s full cover story about the creative ways restaurants have stepped up during this crisis, as well as the rest of the May 2020 issue.