I should start by saying that I work for Defend the Daiquiri (who hosts the New Orleans Daiquiri Festival). I’m insulted at the implication that we stirred up this controversy just to promote our event. Defend the Daiquiri was formed, in part, to defend go-cup culture; that’s been one of our goals since our inception several years ago, so it was included in the recent articles about us. However, the journalists involved did their own research and came to their own conclusions.
That said, I agree with you that some of the reaction has been extreme. The sky isn’t falling; no one is outlawing go-cups. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no story here.
In your piece, you seem to downplay the prohibition of go-cups as only applying to a small part of the city. You then cite it as applying to any predominantly residential area, as well as “arts and cultural overlay districts, such as those on Freret and Frenchmen streets and the upcoming overlay on St. Claude Avenue from Press Street to Poland Avenue.” When you include the residential areas, that covers a large part of this city. And when you’re thinking about attractive and competitive areas for new businesses, areas like Freret, Frenchman, and St. Claude are at the very top.
The fact is, as today’s nola.com article states, it IS harder for new establishments to offer go-cups, and this is clearly tied to the sudden increased value of certain parts of the city. That there’s no single ordinance responsible for the slow erosion of go-cups doesn’t make all this beside the point. To a large degree, it IS the point. As Michael Patrick Welch (of Vice) points out in response to a recent NOLA Defender article: “[I]t is NOT a concerted effort [by the city] but coming from several directions, all of which do, nonetheless, want the same thing. Another thing, you are falling into the trap: no laws are being changed, so nothing is happening right? Laws would be easy to look up online, easy to understand, and easy to protest. You are buying the line that would inevitably lead to no one fighting back as this slowly happens.”
Finally, this isn’t just about go-cups. There’s a language issue at play here too. Gabby’s wasn’t allowed to have a daiquiri “shop;” it had to be a daiquiri “café.” A certain bar on Freret can’t sell “daiquiris.” They can only sell “frozen cocktails.” There are implications here that are worth discussing. These prohibitions were not simply arbitrary.
This is an important discussion, and I’m glad you’re continuing it, even if I disagree with your conclusions. Obviously, the city faces bigger issues, but that doesn’t mean this one should be ignored. Like the debate about noise ordinances concerning live music, it’s inextricably linked to our identity as a city.
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