Neil Timms has lived in Algiers Point for 10 years, the last four-and-a-half as the owner of Crown and Anchor, the self-described “authentic English pub” at the corner of Pelican Avenue and Bouny Street, one block from the Mississippi River.
When he bought the establishment in 2010, business was thriving, Timms said. But since the summer of 2013, when the Algiers ferry cut its hours and eliminated car access, he estimates that his profits have dropped 20 to 30 percent.
“Right before the ferry hours got cut we’d built up a pretty significant amount of business of people coming from the Marigny and French Quarter just to drink at our pub,” Timms said. “They’d come on a weeknight — a fairly significant number, 20 or 30 people – and as soon as the ferry got cut it disappeared.”
The Crown and Anchor appears to have been among hardest hit of the small businesses that dot the Point, the historic Orleans Parish neighborhood whose culture and commerce are still adjusting, to varying degrees, to the ferry’s new hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 10:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Prior to June 30, 2013, the ferry ran 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. That schedule created a unique rhythm that drove a lot of the pub’s business: dawdlers who “miss the ferry and so they stay another half hour,” Timms said, “then miss it again, stay another half hour.”
Timms said his West Bank dart league can still pack the pub once or twice a week, but Thursday Trivia Nights are no more. “That was people coming from the other side,” he said. Live music also is a rarity now: “We don’t make as much, so can’t afford to pay the band.”
Things are not nearly so dire at the nearby Dry Dock Café and Old Point Bar. Dry Dock Owner Ron Casey, an Algiers resident since 1961, says that most of his profits come from food, so he’s doing fine.
“As long as (the ferry) is reliable then the hours don’t impact me that much,” he said. “I still get the daytime tourists.”
Ditto Warren Munster, who bought the Old Point Bar in 1997. He says tourists still come over in the daytime, and that the neighborhood folks who are stuck in Algiers once the ferry stops running have made up the difference.
“My profits haven’t changed,” he claims.
The hired hands behind the bar tell a different story. The Dry Dock bar stays open past midnight, and Casey acknowledged his bartenders have taken a hit. One, Cindy Cantwell, has worked at the Dry Dock Café for four years and reports a 30 to 50-percent drop in her tips since the ferry hours were cut. Jill Chaffe works the after-10 shift at the Old Point and likewise reports a decline in late-night business.
Vanessa Thurber, who has owned the Vine and Dine restaurant and wine bar with her husband Stephen since 2009, said the ferry’s new hours “have affected us negatively, clearly.” But the restaurants hours – 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday – align neatly with the ferry’s weekday schedule, so she says she doesn’t dwell on the issue.
“The only message I want to put forth going forward,” she said, “is that we are here, we are open, come and see us.”
Bars and restaurants aren’t the only businesses affected. Jen Kegel opened her NOLA Potter gallery in Algiers Point about a month before the ferry’s hours were cut last summer; she is now renting out the front of her gallery and offering art classes to try to make up for lost foot traffic. Algiers Point Tours owner Russell Blanchard says the ferry’s early weekend cutoff limits his ability to give his customers the full New Orleans experience.
“It’s sad that I have to say, ‘Here’s this great neighborhood with all this great stuff to do, but now you have to leave.” he said. “I mean, do you want to head home (by 8 p.m.) on a Saturday night? In a town like New Orleans that lives and breathes on nightlife and cuisine? It’s laughable.” CLICK HERE TO READ the rest of this 1A story at the Times-Picayune’s website, NOLA.com
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