There’s a saying in French that, roughly translated, says, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Generally, in business, that’s pretty true. Trends come and go. Markets go up and down. And cycles tend to keep coming around.
Maybe in the long arc of history, this fatalistic philosophy will hold true for the New Orleans economy. But for right now the Coronavirus pandemic has ushered in some very real changes that make it difficult to believe things will go back to being the same anytime soon. Especially in the field of tourism.
According to the City of New Orleans, before everything shut down in March 2020, we were hosting 19 million tourists a year here. This brought about a massive hotel building boom. Believe it or not, from 2016 to 2019, 13 hotels opened in New Orleans. Another 11 were slated to open by 2023. One of the hotels that opened between 2016 and 2019 isn’t strictly a hotel in the traditional sense. It’s more of a hostel. But it’s a hostel with a bunch of hotel-like amenities. It’s called The Quisby, and it’s on St Charles Avenue, in a building that opened in 1924 as The Audubon Hotel.
David Gindin came across the building after it had been shuttered and vacant for over 14 years. David totally renovated the building, and opened for business in 2017 as The Quisby, a high-end, hip hostel. Today, more things are changing than are staying the same at The Quisby, but it’s still open for travelers.
When the city shut down in March, every business in town had to close. Except for those businesses deemed as essential. Among them were hospitals, grocery stores, and food outlets. Which included coffee shops. For that reason, the PJ’s coffee shop on Magazine Street near Whole Foods has stayed open all the way through. It’s the oldest PJ’s in New Orleans and the only one of the original PJ’s coffee shops still open.
The franchisee of the Magazine Street PJ’s is Aubry Miller. Aubry also has other business interests, including a food distributorship called Choctaw Provisions, and a unique coffee shop which is also a hands-on real-life business class at The Academy of the Sacred Heart, where Aubry teaches a course called Math and Financial Literacy.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. Meet Phyllis Jordan the founder of PJ’s Coffee on a previous Out to Lunch.