While much of Baton Rouge was shut down this morning, as a winter ice storm left thousands without power and made roads treacherous to drive on, some businesses remained open despite the challenges.
“I think this kind of caught some people off guard,” says Benny’s owner Justin Alford, whose B-Quik locations on Airline Highway, Greenwell Springs Road and Perkins Road were all open for business. ‘But some people have to go to work today—first responders, doctors, nurses, so we stay open for them.”
With so many establishments closed, including fast-food restaurants, drugstores, supermarkets and coffee shops, businesses like Benny’s that did brave the elements to open their doors were rewarded with brisk sales.
“People need gas for their generators. They need food and drinks,” Alford says.
The IHOP on College Drive was slammed this morning, as one of the few restaurants that was open. Some customers were dining in, though most of the business came from to-go orders placed online and by phone.
“It’s definitely busier than a usual Monday morning,” says Jamie Cline, whose commute from Southern University to the restaurant took more than an hour this morning. “I think because so many people are without power they can’t cook and need food.”
It was unclear how drivers from Waitr, Grub Hub and DoorDash would be able to deliver the orders, which Cline says were pouring in.
Some businesses were coping with the same challenges individuals were at home. The Costco on Airline Highway was open, though the store’s gas pumps were shuttered because of a power outage in the area.
Retailers also were not expecting to receive any deliveries today because most distributors and vendors were not able to safely put their trucks on the road.
“We’re not expecting the supply trucks today, “ says Vick Siddiqui, manager of LA Rouge gas station and mart on Jefferson Highway, which was doing a slow but steady business this morning.
Though the worst of the weather was expected to be over by midday, below-freezing temperatures will keep ice on the road for several hours, so local businesses say for now they’re playing things by ear.
“As of now, our plan is to stay open 24 hours,” Alford says. “We’ll take it as it comes.”