SBA Remains Silent
On Restaurant Revitalization Fund confusion. Some recently rescinded applicants received the promised funds in their bank accounts the next day, while others were told that their application is now being completely rejected. The U.S. Small Business Administration still has not directly commented on the widely varying issues restaurant operators are experiencing in the wake of two waves of Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant payment cancelations. On Wednesday afternoon, an unknown number of previously approved Restaurant Revitalization Fund applicants received grant cancelation letters. Later that afternoon, another form letter went out from the SBA that appeared to completely reject an unknown number of applicants’ formerly approved applications. Whereas the two previous rounds of emails assured applicants that they will remain in the queue, this third letter obtained by Nation’s Restaurant News states that “the award cannot be approved due to an ineligible business type or other related reasons.”
NJ is Renewing a Program to Help Restaurants and People in Need
The first round drew raves. Feeding the hungry may sound like work, but restaurants, volunteers and recipients that participated in the state’s first Sustain and Serve grant program say they are ready to sign up for Phase II this month. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is now taking applications through July 18 for $10 million in grants for preparing meals and transporting and distributing them to people who are food insecure. The program is receiving raves from agencies, restaurants, volunteers and pantries that took part in the first round. Aid The Hungry Inc/Soupkitchen411 secured one of only three $2 million grants issued by the authority in the first round. It serves 27 towns in 10 counties, including Bergen, Essex and Morris. “All parties love this arrangement,” said chairman and co-founder Ken DeRoberts. “We’re proud to say we’re now purchasing over 50,000 meals per month.”
Where the Restaurant Recovery Goes from Here
From RRF grants to potential mergers, it’s time to consider all options. A bipartisan group in Congress continues to chase $60 billion in further restaurant aid. A dozen senators and 150 House members sponsored legislation this week to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which has faced its share of heat in recent days. The grant program rescinded nearly 3,000 minority- and women-owned applications due to a federal court ruling that accused the SBA’s 21-day prioritization program of discriminatory practices. Two restaurants in Tennessee and Texas filed lawsuits, and two of three judges accused the SBA of “racial gerrymandering” and called its decision-making effort to award grants “unconstitutional.” The SBA, in turn, cancelled funds to previously approved restaurants and doled out money to the next in line. The RRF saw more than 362,000 applications seeking $75 billion. During the first two weeks, the SBA received applications from north of 122,000 women business owners, 14,000-plus veteran business owners, and over 71,000 economically and socially disadvantaged individuals. Regardless of the program’s future, restaurants across America find themselves in very different stages of recovery. Is it time to sell? How do you get creative to drive revenue at this point?
Historic Jersey City Casino
For restaurants in the pandemic. By last summer, Nick Wiseman, a founder of Little Sesame, a small chain of hummus shops in Washington, D.C., had made all the expected “pivots” to save his business. He’d offered delivery, meal kits and pantry items, and worked with local nonprofits to feed the hungry. But with both of his shops in downtown business districts — and no signs that office workers would be returning — he needed something else to keep the business afloat. The obvious solution: selling his hummus in grocery stores. “We have a great brand and a great product,” Mr. Wiseman remembered thinking. “How hard can this be?” As it turns out, it took almost a year for three chefs at Little Sesame, each with experience cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants, to make a hummus that looked and tasted the way they wanted it to, with the necessary shelf life and food safety certifications. Along the way, they created a mini-food laboratory, equipped with a magnetic stirrer (to draw uniform hummus samples) and a pH probe, and became experts at the art of high-pressure pasteurization, which kills bacteria by applying isostatic pressure at levels six times those found at the bottom of the ocean. This month, their hummus finally arrived on the shelves at Whole Foods Market.
The Abrupt Half of To-Go Cocktails
Leaves New York bars reeling. Owners, who relied on the drinks to stay afloat during the pandemic, are unloading cocktails and wondering what to do with all the packaging equipment that is now useless as an alcohol sales loophole is closed. To-go cocktails are now priced to move. A financial lifeline for many restaurants during the pandemic, to-go cocktails are no more as of Friday, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo abruptly ended New York’s coronavirus emergency order, and the state’s liquor authority shut down off-premises rights. Over the past year, the drinks were allowed under a new “off-premises privileges” rule, designed by the New York State Liquor Authority to help failing restaurants during a time of uncertainty for the food and beverage industry. With vaccinations topping 70 percent in New York and coronavirus cases on the decline, the governor rescinded the state of emergency on Wednesday, leaving many businesses that have not yet fully recovered economically with a surplus of supplies for the to-go drinks, as well as the drinks themselves.
Restaurants Facing Long Road to Recovery
Press for more federal aid. As the United States begins to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19, one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic has encountered new obstacles that threaten the survival of thousands of businesses, and experts say federal assistance might be necessary to save them. Restaurants and bars were among the first businesses forced to shut down last spring as states raced to contain the coronavirus, and they have been among the last to be allowed to resume normal operations. Many pivoted to take out and delivery to make up revenue, but others were shuttered permanently. Fifteen months later, restrictions on business activity and restaurant capacity across most of the country have been relaxed. Coronavirus infection rates are down, and both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans are increasingly eager to return to dining and other recreational activities, but restaurateurs say their recovery is far from complete.
The Restaurant Renaissance is Coming
Here’s what the industry should expect. The food supply chain is in recovery mode, and restaurants need to diversify vendors and use back-of-house tech to keep up their supply, writes Chelsea van Hooven, global industry advisor at Choco. After over a year of lockdowns, reopenings and more lockdowns due to the ongoing global pandemic, the United States seems to be stabilizing thanks to an improving vaccine supply and distribution. Based on similar outbreaks in the past — such as the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak, which gave way to the Roaring ’20s — and the pent-up energy of people eager to go out and reconnect with other human beings, a restaurant renaissance will soon be underway with a boom in dining out expected in the latter half of 2021. Here’s what the restaurant renaissance may mean for operators and what they can do to proactively manage a surge in customer demand.
As Diners and Restaurant Owners Embrace a Summer Reopening
Long wait times are leaving a bitter taste. A nationwide shortage of workers means long wait times for restaurants are becoming increasingly common. That’s leaving customers and staff frustrated. Families and friends hoping to finally enjoy a meal together at a restaurant this summer may find the experience a little hard to swallow, with wait lists of up to 90 minutes just to be seated, long pauses between courses, reduced menu offerings, and unpredictable hours. The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit by the nationwide worker shortage, as employees recalibrate their lives after the pandemic and consider other career trajectories that offer better pay and conditions. Many customer-facing employees are staying out of the workforce due to fears that they could contract Covid-19, and some continue to collect unemployment benefits. The resulting dearth of workers means slower service at some restaurants, bars and cafés, which is a concern not just for diners, but for the businesses who have fought hard to survive the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
Did You Know?
Fourth stimulus check update: Possible amount, status and latest news. A fourth stimulus check could take the form of monthly stimulus checks or one-time stimulus checks worth up to $2,000. Both options have been proposed to follow up the round of relief payments sent out earlier this year. Although the post-pandemic economic recovery is ongoing, there’s currently no legislation in Congress supporting a fourth stimulus check. This is partially because the economy is showing signs of improvement as hiring picks back up.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
A voice for our industry. If you are finding these weekly bulletins informative and beneficial during this pandemic, we kindly ask that you write a brief Google review providing a vote of your appreciation. Simply Google “Bielat Santore & Company” and when the company name appears click the button on the right to write your review or; if you don’t use Gmail, go to Google Maps, type “Bielat Santore & Company” – Allenhurst, NJ into Google Maps; scroll down and you will see an option to leave a review.