The long-term effects of a global pandemic that has furiously and dramatically changed our way of life are becoming clearer each day. Within the culinary world—one highly dependent on the sorts of human interactions that COVID-19 has most deeply targeted—restaurants have had to completely re-think the way they do business and, unfortunately, plenty of them have had to cease operations permanently.
According to a press release by the National Restaurant Association, nearly 1 in 6 eateries have closed permanently or long-term in the past six months. That equals to about 100,000 restaurants, a number that affects almost 3 million employees who are still out of work. Financially speaking, "the industry is on track to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of the year."
The referenced data is directly pulled from a survey that the Association gave out to restaurant operators all around the country. What's even more heartbreaking than the stated troubles is the level of hopelessness that seems to echo out of the industry. According to the survey, 40% of restaurant operators think it unlikely that they will be able to remain open six months from now "if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government." Speaking of politics: the Association penned a letter to Congress and President Donald Trump this week, asking for bipartisan support in passing small business programs in stand-alone bills to aid the eateries.
"For an industry built on service and hospitality, the last six months have challenged the core understanding of our business," said Tom Bené, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the press release. "Our survival for this comes down to the creativity and entrepreneurship of owners, operators, and employees. Across the board, from independent owners to multi-unit franchise operators, restaurants are losing money every month, and they continue to struggle to serve their communities and support their employees."
Although creativity has taken center stage—bumper tables and virtual sake clubs have become the modus operandi at some gastronomic destinations around the country—and new guidelines are being followed (masks, outdoor dining, reservations-only, reduced seating), things are clearly tough out there. We can't wish the industry into better shape and we do have to accept the new reality we now call ours, but that doesn't mean we can't do our part in helping out those in need: we urge you to support local eateries by ordering take out and trying your best to head out and dine out—laws permitting, of course.
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