Your man in New Orleans.

What’s Happening at La Belle Esplanade.

We are pursuing a policy of truth.  I read in the Wall Street Journal today that “Small Business Owners Fret Over Loan Delays.”  I didn’t need to read it on the front page of the newspaper to learn that.  I’m one of them.

Your man in New Orleans.
Your man in New Orleans.

Melanie, who is the better half of this operation, talked with our accountant today.  Our accountant specializes in the hospitality and restaurant industry in New Orleans.  Melanie told our accountant that we don’t expect to be making money again until October.  Our accountant, who has a lot of clients, and has a much more expansive big picture view of our industry than Melanie or I have, agreed.  This is the state of New Orleans.

We applied for the initial $10,000 loan from the Small Business Administration that was supposed to land in La Belle’s bank account in three days.  Three weeks later, we are still waiting.  It is impossible for us to learn the status of our application.  The system is overwhelmed.

La Belle still has refunds we have to process for cancelled reservations.  We can’t.  We have already given enough refunds for cancelled reservations that our well is dry.  Our credit card processor knows how much money comes in and how much goes out.  They know we don’t have any more to give.  They have suspended our account until we get some income.

No one is making reservations to visit New Orleans later this year, or next year, either.  I can’t blame them.  I can’t afford to visit New Orleans after this pandemic, and I live here.

Happily, we live frugally.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when our five-suite inn is fully occupied, La Belle Esplanade collects about a thousand dollars a day.  That’s during the busy season.

March, April, and May are the months when we earn enough money to pay our bills through the summer, when nobody visits New Orleans.  These months tide us over until October, when business picks up for a month and drops off again in November and December.  It is usually March, April, and May, that keep the lights on here.  The rug is pulled out from under us this year.

Don’t ask me why, but few people visit New Orleans in December.  The whole city is lit up in December in New Orleans.  There are still interesting things happening and the weather is better than anywhere up north, but, still, nobody comes for Christmas in New Orleans.

Maybe this year will be different.  Let’s hope so.  You should visit New Orleans in December.  Everyone will be happy to see you.

With only five suites, La Belle Esplanade is microscopic in the grand scheme of New Orleans’ hospitality industry.  There are 36,000 hotel rooms in New Orleans.  La Belle accounts for five of those.  We are tiny.  That’s how we can offer the personalized service that has made us the #1 place to stay in New Orleans since April 2014.  I miss 2014.

We’re not going down without a fight.  As two New Orleans goodwill ambassadors, Melanie and I (and Melanie is the better half of this operation) are committed to continuing our mission of sharing the best parts of New Orleans with people interested in what makes this wonderful city we call home tick outside of Bourbon Street.  We love New Orleans.  We are in this game forever.

This, too, shall pass.  If Hurricane Katrina couldn’t kill New Orleans, the coronavirus won’t, either.  Love of New Orleans keeps this city alive.  We know we are lucky to live here.  We wouldn’t trade what we do for any other opportunity.  NOLA proud and NOLA strong.

We obviously have some cash flow problems: there is no cash and there is no flow.

We are used to this predicament, just not at this time of year, which is usually the busiest season.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you that being an innkeeper is an easy way to get rich.  I’m here to tell you that you can make a decent living that is rewarding in ways other than monetary.  I know waiters who earn more than Melanie and I do.  It’s just a fact of life.

Even during flush times, we only have five things to sell on any given day.  We have spacious and luxurious suites located on a super-interesting and beautiful street a short stroll from the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Unfortunately, you have to be willing to physically come to New Orleans in person to make reserving a suite worth your while.

I have long thought that we need to offer something that people can buy without having to visit this wonderful city we call home.  Adversity is the mother of invention.

We love to share what we know about New Orleans.  This blog is evidence of that.  We live in a genuine New Orleans state of mind.

If you haven’t figured it out, yet, I enjoy writing.  I went to school to be a painter but writing is my first love.  I have always been attracted to cash-poor professions.

I am working on a new website where we will be selling manuscript editions of things that I’ve written over the years.  It’ll be a real treasure trove.

I have logorrhea.  Like Joe Gould, I have a secret I am compelled to write down over and over again.  In my case, it is a love of New Orleans.  I have an extensive collection of essays and stories about New Orleans, scads of them.  Most of them are solid literary gold, if I do say so myself.  Reading them, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be bemused, and you’ll want to get yourself down to this wonderful city we call home.

Next week, after I work out the kinks in the shopping cart, La Belle will be offering these manuscript collections for sale.  If you want to learn what it means to be in love with magical New Orleans, this will be your chance.  There’s no time like next week.

Stay tuned.

I pour my heart and soul into my work.  I am married to Melanie but my New Orleans is my mistress.  I write the city love letters all the time.  Melanie understands.

I will be announcing the launch of our website on La Belle’s Facebook page.  If you don’t follow us on Facebook, you should.  I post things there several times a day to keep our 13,000 followers in a New Orleans state of mind.  If you haven’t signed up for our occasional newsletter, you should.  The form is at the bottom of this page.  I’ll be announcing our new website’s launch via email, too.  I rarely send out newsletters because I rarely have any announcements to make.  I don’t like to bother people.  This shouldn’t bother anyone.  When the website is up, it will be a chance to see our world through my eyes.

New Orleans is wonderful.  I cannot imagine living anywhere else.  If you want to get a taste of it, stay tuned.  The best is yet to come.

Have a great New Orleans day today, wherever you happen to be.

You have two friends on Esplanade Avenue,

-Matthew King and Melanie Schmitt

La Belle Esplanade