Another $235M Could Be Coming to N.J.
Small businesses, restaurants crushed by COVID. Another round of grants could be headed to New Jersey’s small businesses, nonprofits and childcare centers, as a package of six bills heads to the governor’s desk. The state Senate passed the $235 million in grants, aiming to help businesses suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, through six bills on Thursday. The bills passed the Assembly in May, and now head to Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he’d sign the package. “Our legislation will provide $235 million in grants to help businesses and non-profits who were hit hard by the pandemic and are now deciding when and how to reopen, rehire and ramp up to full operation in the weeks and months ahead,” said Senator Dawn Addiego, D-Burlington, primary sponsor on the bill package. The legislation allocates $120 million to microbusinesses, $50 million for small businesses and nonprofits, $30 million to restaurants, $25 million for new start-up businesses and $10 million for childcare facilities. Another $10 million will go to the Sustain and Serve NJ program which helps purchase meals from restaurants to soup kitchens and nonprofits.
Courts Are Challenging the Biden Administration’s
Prioritization of women and minorities for restaurant relief grants. The Sixth Circuit court panel has ruled the prioritization of Restaurant Revitalization Fund loans on the basis of sex and race unconstitutional. A Sixth Circuit court panel ruled on May 28 that the Small Business Administration’s prioritization of Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants on the basis of race and sex for the first 21 days of the program is unconstitutional. The decision overturned a Tennessee federal judge’s original ruling that declined a temporary restraining request from Antonio Vitolo, the owner of Jake’s Bar and Grill LLC in Harriman, Tenn. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative, nonprofit law firm, filed the lawsuit against SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman on behalf of Vitolo in May, stating that Vitolo failed to receive a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant after applying on May 3 allegedly because he is a white man. Vitolo splits the ownership of Jake’s Bar & Grill with his wife, who is Hispanic, but the SBA required a business to be at least 51% owned by a “woman, veteran and/or socially or economically disadvantaged individual” in order to be eligible within the three-week prioritization window.
Companies struggle to restock their inventories post pandemic. Steel, lumber, plastic and fuel. Corn, soybeans, sugar and sunflower oil. Houses, cars, diapers and toilet paper. Prices are rising almost everywhere you look. The post-pandemic recovery is in full swing, and the global economy is struggling to keep up. Following a collapse at the start of the pandemic as businesses closed and millions of workers lost jobs, demand has rebounded with a vengeance, spurred by government stimulus and consumers flush with savings. But companies that idled factories or put workers on furlough during lockdowns are now unable to secure enough raw materials to build the houses, make the cars or assemble the appliances that are suddenly in high demand. Companies are furiously trying to restock inventories following last year’s global recession, straining supply chains already reeling from the pandemic to breaking point. A shortage of shipping containers and bottlenecks at ports have made matters worse and increased the cost of moving products around the world. Throw in accidents, cyberattacks, extreme weather and the huge disruption caused by the desperate hunt for cleaner sources of energy, and you have a perfect storm.
Bielat Santore & Company – “Restaurant Rap”
This Week’s “How Ya Doin” Interview Series. As the lock down kept businesses closed, Bielat Santore & Company initiated its “Restaurant Rap” series. That series presented recorded virtual video interviews with local restauranteurs and other industry professionals, many of whom were the firm’s clients, customers, and associates. The interviews focused on the challenges and obstacles business owners were facing during the early stages of the pandemic. Now, a year later, Bielat Santore & Company is checking back with those same professionals and asking…”How Ya Doin?” Watch this week’s featured interview with restauranteur, Steve Bidgood, partner in the Salt Creek Grill Restaurants.
The Value of Mentorship
In the restaurant business. No one knows precisely when or where the first restaurant appeared, but the business model has existed in various forms since ancient times. Generation after generation labored to bring food and drink to the marketplace, refining and innovating along the way. Today’s restaurant industry rests upon the shoulders of those who came before us. And the future of our industry resides with those who will follow us. It is in that spirit that I congratulate the “Young Leaders to Watch.” They have earned recognition as part of the fabric of the industry, and they will likely be among the cadre that proves instrumental in moving the industry forward as my generation fades from the scene. I look forward to passing the torch to leaders of their caliber. Watch them indeed! In the history of restaurants, the quick-service restaurant category is a relatively new development. Debates can be had about the identity of the “first” fast-food restaurant, but rather than enter that fray, let’s just say that it has been about 100 years since the origin of the category as we know it today. White Castle and A&W are two brands that helped form the foundation; McDonald’s became the cornerstone and preeminent model of what constitutes a quick service. Fast forward to today, and we find hundreds of quick-service restaurant brands spanning a broad range of cuisines and service models. Virtually every one of these brands can trace their roots … at least conceptually … to a small number of pioneer brands. And behind every one of those pioneer brands stand people. Not just the founders and entrepreneurs, but the people that helped build those brands. If one thing is certain in this industry, it is that no one succeeds alone.
The Next Generation
Of the dining experience. When thinking about the future of the dining experience post COVID, it is easy to get caught focusing on things like digital only self-service, sci-fi-like drone food delivery and taking pills or shakes instead of food. The reality is that the real next-generation of dining will be about enhancing the restaurants we all visit and love to feel more customized, efficient, and more connected with their guests – in every way. The past year has created many challenges for the restaurant industry. Any time there is a disruption in an industry, gaps appear that create opportunities to reassess what is working, what isn’t and explore how to modernize operationally. Almost more than any other sector, we’ve seen this in the restaurant and hospitality industry. After all, it is here that operations are run on infamously razor thin margins, and the opportune emergence of technologies that provide a better experience for venues and guests mean for the first time in decades, restaurants have a real chance to boost their bottom line.
Restaurant Sales Show Little Sign of Slowing
Same-store sales have risen for the past 11 weeks. Restaurant sales have been increasing for nearly three months and show no sign of stopping, at least according to the most recent update from Black Box Intelligence. The restaurant information firm said that same-store sales accelerated last week and have increased for 11 straight weeks. Sales from the week ended May 30 were the best results for the index in six weeks, suggesting that the industry’s post-pandemic sales boom is not yet subsiding. Other indications from Black Box suggest a return to normal in some areas while other areas continue some of their pandemic trends. For one thing, consumers continue to come in less often and make larger orders when they do, suggesting that people continue to buy takeout for families and groups and dine alone less. Average check is growing at an accelerated pace when compared with each of the past two years. Guest count, on the other hand, remains in decline.
Restaurants Gained 186K Jobs in May
Marking 5 straight months of employment growth. Food services and drinking places gained 186,000 jobs in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase from the 167,500 jobs the industry added in April. Over the past five months, the industry hired a net of 830,000 employees, according to the National Restaurant Association. This is equal to the number of restaurant jobs added in the 42 months prior to the pandemic. While the industry has deployed various tactics to boost hiring — including mass recruitment events, social media campaigns and on-the-spot interviews — restaurants are still 1.5 million jobs, or 12%, below pre-pandemic employment levels, according to the NRA.
Tesla Turns Common Complaint into New Business Venture
Restaurants. Tesla is the world’s leader in electric cars. Now, the company is looking to expand its reach to an unlikely venture—restaurants. Tesla recently filed for a patent to use its name and logo for restaurant services, opening the door for exclusive Tesla-branded restaurants and cafes. Tesla’s visionary CEO Elon Musk had the idea way back in 2018 when he originally tweeted about putting a 50’s style diner and drive-in at a Supercharger station in LA. Now, that dream might become a reality. What may seem like a tangential business plan is actually a smart customer experience move. A common roadblock for Tesla owners is the time it takes the cars to charge. A recent study found that one in five electric vehicle owners switched back to gas-powered cars because of charging issues. Customers don’t want to sit at a charger for more than 30 minutes while they are hungry. By adding a Tesla-branded restaurant to a charging station, the company is giving customers a unique activity to do while their cars charge and adding to its already strong brand.
The Tick-Tock on TikTok
For restaurants. Short-video social platform shows growing strength as a marketing tool to reach 18- to 29-year-olds. When the year-old COVID-19 pandemic had slowed traffic to a trickle this spring at the Sushiya restaurant and bar in downtown Dallas, 80-year-old owner Kang Lee got a massive TikTok boost from his visiting teenage grandson. The son of Lee’s daughter, Andrew Rafael Kim, was visiting with his family from St. Paul, Minn., and the 18-year-old TikTok leader posted a 10-second video on March 19. Kim’s TikTok post, which featured his grandfather, Sushiya staff members and a soundtrack of the Beach Bunny’s song “Cloud 9,” exploded. The video went beyond viral; it was a pandemic-level TikTok. By June 1, the video had logged 2 million views, more than 33,700 comments and 47,300 shares. Kim had noted on his TikTok video that “business has been slow with corona, so it would mean a lot if u came 🙂 #smallbusiness #sushi #texas #food.”
Did You Know?
McDonald’s is testing automated drive-thru ordering at 10 Chicago restaurants. At 10 McDonald’s locations in Chicago, workers aren’t taking down customers’ drive-thru orders for McNuggets and french fries — a computer is, CEO Chris Kempczinski said Wednesday. Kempczinski said the restaurants using the voice-ordering technology are seeing about 85% order accuracy. Only about a fifth of orders need to be a taken by a human at those locations, he said, speaking at Alliance Bernstein’s Strategic Decisions conference. Over the last decade, restaurants have been leaning more into technology to improve the customer experience and help save on labor. In 2019, under former CEO Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s went on a spending spree, snapping up restaurant tech. One of those acquisitions was Apprente, which uses artificial intelligence software to take drive-thru orders. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
There are a huge number of restaurant job openings right now. In news that will surprise almost nobody who operates a restaurant, the federal government on Tuesday said that there were a record number of job openings in April, with some 9.3 million unfilled jobs. The industries with the biggest problem are in the leisure and hospitality sectors, including restaurants and hotels, where one out of every 10 jobs is currently unfilled, according to data from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Overall, 1.6 million jobs were open in the leisure and hospitality industries, up from 1.2 million job openings in March. The rate of openings in the accommodation and food service sectors—hotels and restaurants—was 9.9%, up from 7.7% in March.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
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