Sip and shop — virtually — during the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll

The 10th annual Champagne Stroll on Magazine Street is still on for May 2. It’s just not on the street, it’s online, the Magazine Street Merchants Association has announced. Magazine Street (@MagazineStreet) will host an interactive Instagram live video feed, the “Virtually Champagne Stroll,” on Saturday, May 2. Merchants will offer special deals and followers can chime in with their messages supporting Magazine Street and photos of themselves drinking champagne and shopping online. This night has been one of the flagship events of the Magazine Street Merchants Association, providing heavy traffic and much needed sales to many businesses on Magazine Street, giving them a boost before the traditional summer slump sets in.

Put down that beer: Urban South Brewery gets state contract for hand sanitizer

Urban South Brewery, the largest craft brewery in New Orleans, recently won a bid to produce 50,000 eight-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The Tchoupitoulas Street brewery has partnered with other Louisiana manufacturers to secure the raw materials necessary to take on this project. Orders for hand sanitizer have exceeded 120,000 bottles from local hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes and small businesses. “In such unfamiliar and challenging times, it’s important for us to support other businesses impacted by this crisis and support our community in a time of need,” said Jacob Landry, founder of Urban South Brewery, in a press release. “This is a unique opportunity to keep our team employed and working while meeting a critical need in the community that has supported us for the last four years.”
Urban South employees will use their beer production and packaging skills to instead bottle hand sanitizer amid the nationwide shortage.

Freret Street business owners contend with the quiet, look toward a comeback

Signs for the Freret Street Festival have hung over the Freret business corridor for weeks. It’s the trademark spring event of the popular strip that runs from Tulane and Loyola universities to Napoleon Avenue. The 2020 festival, originally scheduled for April 4, has gone the way of Jazz Fest and other events — postponed to a date yet to be determined. “It was a big boost,” Mojo Coffee House owner Angela Estevez said of the festival. “A lot of businesses, I think, that helps them get through the summer.”

In the years after Hurricane Katrina, Freret Street saw an influx of investment, with shuttered banks and gas stations transformed into restaurants, bars and coffee shops bringing new business to the area.

Viewpoint: The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, circa 2020

The importance of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces has become the new national pastime. In the past month, we’ve all viewed tutorials and become experts on how to properly wash our hands for 20 seconds or more, but what about our groceries, shoes and mail-order packages? You’re likely wiping down some surfaces with disinfectant, but are you wiping down all the right surfaces? If keeping your home safe from COVID-19 is the priority, what comes after 6 feet of social distancing and a liberally applied hand sanitizer? Some say it entails a lot more.

Beneficiary of Tyler Perry’s random act of kindness keeps paying it forward

When 61-year-old Lori Golden Freehling entered the Winn-Dixie on Tchoupitoulas Street on Wednesday morning, a store worker handed her a piece of paper that said “Random Act of Kindness” on it. She assumed it was some kind of promotion to show appreciation for store employees. But when she checked out her groceries, the cashier asked her, “Do you know who Tyler Perry is?”

Golden Freehling said of course – Tyler Perry is the multimillionaire creator of the mega-hit “Madea” movie franchise, and a New Orleans native. “She looked at me with this big smile and said, ‘Well, he just bought your groceries,’” Freehling said. Freehling wasn’t the only person to benefit from the star’s generosity.

City Council launches ‘SewDat’ website to centralize mask donations, resources

From the New Orleans City Council

The New Orleans City Council has partnered with the Mayor’s Office and the City’s Department of Health to launch a centralized website for resources and donations for cloth face coverings called “SewDat.” The website provides a location where citizens, nonprofits and businesses can donate cloth face coverings to non-medical, essential employees at grocery stores, restaurants, bus and taxi drivers, volunteers staffing food pantries, and meal distribution centers. In addition, the website will offer a place for residents to purchase cloth face coverings, limiting competition for N95 and surgical masks, which are in high demand and short supply for health care professionals and other first-responders in Louisiana. The website will also provide instructions to residents interested in sewing or creating a mask with supplies at home. has a list of local businesses and individuals selling face coverings to the general public.

Lusher engineering teacher creating medical masks with Tulane medical students

From Lusher Charter School

In true collaborative spirit, Lusher Charter School engineering teacher Matthew Owen and his wife, Laura, are working with Tulane Medical School and local hospitals to create much-needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, for New Orleans hospital employees to protect them from COVID-19. The Owens are working with medical students and other engineers and students on designs for PPE. Laura Owen, a support services teacher at Lusher, spearheaded the effort with medical students who contacted hospitals about their needs. When they discovered that the teachers had access to Lusher’s 3D printers, the med students planned a Zoom call with the couple and developed a design to print. With permission from the school, the Owens brought three 3D printers and supplies home to begin the project.

Viewpoint: Stimulus benefits too slow for some idled workers

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While some New Orleanians will soon begin receiving the much-heralded extra $600 unemployment benefits and other stimulus checks Congress authorized in response to the global pandemic, many self-employed and Form 1099 contract workers — including those in the short-term rental industry — received rejection letters from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Still other eligible workers who were not able to apply online are encountering long wait times to speak with a staffer. “I haven’t been able to work in three weeks,” said one small business owner. “If I didn’t have a small nest egg, I don’t know how I would feed my family,” she said. Though the CARES Act states that self-employed and contract workers are eligible for unemployment, thousands of Louisiana workers have been caught in the cross-hairs between conflicting state and federal laws and available funding.

Walmart on Tchoupitoulas closed today to sanitize, restock

Walmart is temporarily closing three stores in the New Orleans area today (Thursday, April 9) to sanitize them and restock shelves. The stores include the Walmart on Tchoupitoulas Street, as well as stores in New Orleans East and Harahan. They will reopen Friday at 7 a.m.

Third-party sanitation specialists will thoroughly clean and disinfect the stores according to guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and other health experts, according to a press release. Walmart employees will be restocking the shelves. The Walmart press release states: “When the stores reopen on Friday we will conduct associate health screens and temperature checks, and all associates will be provided with face masks and gloves.