New project aims to help communities build storm resiliency through restaurants

Posted at 9:13 AM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 10:13:23-04

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Lisa Nelson found herself without a kitchen to cook in, or food to cook.

She had been serving up food for years, until the power failure in Ida's wake caused her to lose all of her perishable inventory and she was locked out of the kitchen she'd been cooking in.

The story wasn't a unique one as some areas in New Orleans went ten days without power after the hurricane had crippled critical infrastructure.

Such a power outage is hard on everyone, but restaurants are particularly susceptible to some of the worst fallout from extended power outages.

Already a business with tight profit margins having to throw out inventory and being without a way to cook for a week could be too much for some restaurants to handle.

A new initiative in New Orleans, however, is hoping that will change.

It's called Get Lit, Stay Lit and it's the brain child of Devin de Wulf, the founder of the Feed the Second Line Organization.

"We kind of came up with this idea that it would be really good to have restaurants with solar panels and batteries because if the power goes out in the city the restaurant could still serve the community," said de Wulf.

The program helps restaurants front the cost of solar panel instillation, the biggest hurdle in getting solar panels installed.

Instillation funds arrive in the form of a forgivable loan, and to pay the loan back the restaurant takes the money it saves on it's electrical costs and puts it back into the program, making the restaurant a source of funding.

Having a source of power provides numerous benefits to the restaurant, the electricity generated could continue to keep freezers going and eliminate food waste, kitchens can stay operational so the business can continue to have a way to make money.

And the benefits aren't just restricted to the business but it helps the restaurant become a place that can help serve the community.

A place that can serve as a cooling center when A/Cs are out, a charging station, or even just a place to get a warm meal, making the restaurant the first line of disaster response.

This is about community resiliency de Wulf said, "We know we're going to get one, and we should empower the local restaurants to be there and to be the first responders. I don't really believe we should have people flying to Louisiana to make us grits for us, I think we can do it ourselves."

The first restaurant had solar panels installed this summer, the first restaurant chosen was Queen Trini Lisa's in Mid-City the new place Lisa Nelson's new restaurant.

"It was destined to be, to come from that, to experience that and to be the first in New Orleans," said Nelson.

While Queen Trini Lisa's is the first restaurant is the first it certain won't be the last, new installments are already in the works and de Wulf believes this should be a model for all of south Louisiana.

If you're interested in learning more about this program or donating to the program you can do so at

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