LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — On March 16, Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered Louisiana to close bars and limit restaurants to take out and pick up orders only.

Then came the stay at home order. This hit the hospitality industry hard, forcing hotels and restaurants to furlough or let go of employees.

“The hospitality industry was one of the first industries hit as a result of COVID-19, and probably hit the hardest immediately almost overnight,” says Ben Berthelot With Lafayette Travel.

March and April are typically busy months for Lafayette tourism, but occupancy in hotels has dropped to 23.5% and room revenue has dropped 77% according to Berthelot. He says, “Our hotels are hurting and we all know our restaurants are hurting.”

Acadiana Chef Patrick Mould is calling on the community to support and eat local. “A lot of restaurants are basically trying to keep their doors open and the lights on. They are trying to keep a few employees working right now. I encourage everyone to go out and support the restaurants and support the hospitality industry and do the best you can,” he says.

Eat Lafayette is a campaign that’s been held for the past 15 years to promote our local restaurants. They’ve decided to team up with other organizations to show support during COVID-19.

“We ended up partnering with Coca-Cola, Talk-N- T-Shirts and the United Way to launch the Feed the Envie T-shirt in hopes that people would buy a T-shirt. and then United Way is going to work to get those funds out to restaurant and hotel workers in Lafayette Parish,” says Berthelot.

These funds will help workers cover the cost of living until the restaurant and hospitality industry is back up on their feet.

Berthlot says, “When we do go back we know the research has shown that people are not going to necessarily hop on a plane and start traveling. So we are going to have to rely on local and regional travel to help keep things going so we are doing everything we can to be prepared for that time.”

All net proceeds from sales of the T-shirt will be given to the United Way of Acadiana to grant out to workers employed by locally owned restaurants or hotels in Lafayette Parish.

Get your shirt here!