Like most restaurants, Bourbon Street Barrel Room
(2393 Professor Ave., 216-298-4400) has been closed since the middle of March. But unlike many of its brethren, it has remained that way. That will change on Friday August 7, when the popular Tremont eatery will reopen its doors one month shy of its sixth birthday.
Owner Justin Clemens says that he and his chef Johnny Schulze never really considered switching to take-out business because it really didn’t make sense given their business model.
“Carryout has never been a huge piece of our business,” Clemens explains. “Our focus has always been to make sure that the people in the building have a great experience, so we didn’t even offer carryout during our weekend dinners and brunches.”
In May, when the Governor began loosening restaurant restrictions, Clemens says that he held multiple staff meetings. The consensus, he says, was to “sit it all out together until the end of July. It was tough on the checkbook, but I feel like it was the human thing to do.”
That same team will band together to reopen the doors on August 1. Guests will find most of their favorite Creole and Cajun dishes, like Po' Boys, red beans and rice, shrimp Creole, seafood gumbo and crawfish etouffe – all washed down with rum-laced Hurricanes.
Clemens says that social distancing will result in a 30-percent loss of seating indoors and out, not too bad considering. The big anxiety comes in the form of the uncertainly that awaits, he says.
“The big advantage of being open for six years is that you have so much historical data that was so accurate; we were dialed in,” he says. “But now, we’re literally back to square one. We have no idea. That is really spooky.”