Ruby Slipper Cafe on Canal Street Plans to Reopen Saturday
NEW ORLEANS – It will be months before the site of the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel has been stabilized and cleared of debris, so life near Canal and N. Rampart streets is not nearly back to normal. There are signs of improvement, though.
The nearby Saenger Theatre, which has been shut down since the Oct. 12 incident, announced it will resume operations Dec. 11 when it presents a show by magician Chriss Angel. The Ruby Slipper Cafe at 1005 Canal Street, meanwhile, may reopen as soon as this Saturday – once workers finish getting it cleaned up and ready for customers.
“It’s been vacant for six weeks,” said Jennifer Weishaupt, CEO and founder of New Orleans-based Ruby Slipper and its sister brand Ruby Sunshine (which together have 14 locations across the south). “On Friday, they moved the barricades and we were able to get in.”
Weishaupt said they’re essentially having to prepare the building like it’s a new restaurant opening. They’re cleaning and servicing the HVAC system because “it’s pulled in God knows what debris.” They also have to sanitize all the cooking equipment and coolers.
“We had power running so that’s a positive,” she said. “It’s not quite a Katrina situation although there was still a lot of food to discard. There is a lot of what looks like construction dust so we have to [clean] everything top to bottom.”
Weishaupt said she had 53 employees working on Canal Street, which is the company’s second busiest location. She was able to move some of them to other Ruby Slipper locations and others found work elsewhere. Now she’s in the process of finding out who’s able to return.
All her restaurants will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, the team will reconvene to wash every dish, prep every condiment dispenser and organize all the ingredients for the food and drinks.
“We make everything from scratch,” she said. “We have to make the Bloody Mary mix, the punch mix and all the important stuff – can’t go without the alcohol.”