Lake Area businesses push to reopen despite difficult year

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 7:38 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The past year hasn’t been easy for local businesses to carry on with the pandemic and four separate weather events.

Southwest Louisiana has been through so much, and it was hard for businesses to navigate each life-changing event. But not everyone threw in the towel.

Most business owners like Paige Vidrine, owner of Buffi’s Peaux Boys, can attest to the hard work it takes to keep things running, because Buffi’s is one of the businesses that managed to push through and survive

“You get faced with, and especially in the restaurant industry, you get faced with a problem - a problem, a problem, a problem. And I call them just simple obstacles.,” Vidrine said.

Some obstacles are expected when running one’s own business; however, this past year ended up being anything but simple.

“With COVID, the hurricane, and the floods and the snowstorm, we’re on our knees. And we’re in a place where visionaries are going to be the ones that pick us back up. The ones who have the foresight to say, ‘yes, life is nothing like it used to be, but we’re going to come back even better,’” Vidrine said.

She said now, she’s thankful to be part of helping revitalize the downtown area and hopes to see more business occupy the empty spaces soon.

But coming back and reopening wasn’t the case for all businesses in the area. According to City of the Lake Charles’ data of occupancy license for businesses, nearly 200 did not renew their license for 2021. It’s unclear the direct reason for each business not renewing, but what is clear, it’s been one tough year.

For 2021 renewals, the City of Lake Charles did offer a COVID/Hurricane relief program that discounted occupational license renewal fees. The maximum benefit allotted $100 per business to target those businesses who needed the assistance the most.

“My entire staff had ended up on unemployment. And when I asked them to come back, every last one was more than willing to come back and get off unemployment, and that was the hard thing for a lot of restaurants,” Vidrine said.

Vidrine said staffing issues alone can make it hard for any local business to survive.

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