I can’t imagine life without all of these businesses and people in the hospitality industry. As the son of parents who ran a small tavern in a small town, I know the joys of providing a welcoming place for good food, good company and good drinks. I also know the extremely tight margins these businesses work on.
Even the most crowded, most popular places in your home town are surviving on “profits” of around 5%… and that’s BEFORE taxes. If the places are taking care of their employees reasonably well, their margins are even smaller. Many of our favorite proprietors, servers, and bartenders are going to be losing their jobs permanently. Many, many others will lose them at least through the term of this national emergency, and who knows how long it will be before they are back at work… They need help NOW.
They need help from their local, state and federal governments with early access to unemployment benefits and with getting information on other help available like that from the US Bartenders’ Guild. They need tax relief NOW. They can use some sort of help with rent for the empty spaces, and they need help keeping their people on the payroll while we weather this emergency. They need help in the form of some sort of industry bailout, and they need it more urgently than the Auto industry and banks needed it in 2008. They need help from all of us.
Restaurants are an invaluable part of the social fabric of our towns and cities. We rely on them to nourish us, to host us as we celebrate, to provide us community, to provide us entertainment. It’s unthinkable that they will not be there to meet us when we come out of this.
But the American restaurant industry — and the people who work in it — was always perched on a cliff. The fast-moving, widespread nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic is poised to push both the businesses and its workers over the edge. We don’t know what comes after the fall. The restaurant industry in America’s cities certainly won’t look the way it did before. It may never again.
Please go buy a gift card from your favorite places, donate to any local organization that is helping, donate to the USBG, patronize those places offering take-out service. And most of all do it with the HOPE that your favorite places will survive.