New Orleans Music Venue Provides Free Meals to Residents Without Power
"We all take care of each other."
The owner of a popular New Orleans music venue has transformed the space into a distribution center for free meals for those suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Howie Kaplan, the owner of The Howlin' Wolf, told Billboard that they're currently serving approximately 10,000 meals a day.
"There wasn't a grand plan to start the program," Kaplan recalled. "Monday morning, we came in, we had a few drinks because we survived a hurricane, and we recognized right then and there that something was going on, but we didn't understand the magnitude of it."
Since Ida knocked out power to the city, Kaplan and his staff have been collecting, cooking, and distributing meals to locals who are unable to refrigerate or cook food at home. Nearby restaurants have also donated the contents of their refrigerators and freezers to The Howlin' Wolf.
"We've got folks working from about 20 different restaurants over the last few days, Kaplan told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.
Mike DeSimone, the CEO of Link Restaurant Group, said the decision to help was a no-brainer.
"We just didn't even think about it," he told CBS News. "We just jumped in and started, you know, started cooking. Cause that's what we do."
Kaplan says their combined efforts are a testament to the spirit of New Orleans.
"We take care of each other, I think, in a way nobody else does," he said.
In addition to the meals, every day a neighbor dressed as Darth Vader reportedly sets up a free charging station for anyone to use outside The Howlin' Wolf.
"New Orleans is a pretty small town. We all take care of each other," Kaplan told Billboard. "We have people dancing in the streets. We celebrate misery. We celebrate passion. We celebrate everything. That's what New Orleans values."