Murphy Declines to Extend COVID-Related UI Benefits
Past Sept. 4 expiration date. Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he will not extend current expanded unemployment benefits, including a supplemental $300 per week payment, past their Sept. 4 expiration date. The decision is expected to affect approximately 500,000 New Jersey residents. After Congress declined to lengthen the expanded federal unemployment benefits for a fourth time past the current Sept. 4 expiration date, President Joe Biden suggested that states use COVID-19 relief funds to extend the benefits instead. “The proper way to extend federal UI benefits is through federal action, not a patchwork of state ones,” Murphy said today at his weekly COVID-19 briefing. He added that New Jersey is not alone and that no state is extending the benefit beyond Sept. 4. “The reality is that continuing the $300 per week benefit through state resources would be cost prohibitive,” the governor said, adding a continuation would cost “at least $314 million per week, and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars more.”
The Road Ahead for the Restaurant Industry In 2021
Besides employment, there are overall economic recovery concerns. If the restaurant industry has learned anything from the economic effects of the pandemic, it is that this recovery will be more like a marathon, not a sprint. If this was considered a race to return to normalcy, it is far from over, and we don’t yet have a winner. Although those ever-famous “pivots” seemingly occurred overnight out of necessity, the accelerated innovations and adaptability have put the restaurant industry in the midst of the new normal, which is the starting point for the second half of 2021. Creativity and resiliency catapulted the restaurant industry into the spotlight, as perhaps no other industry had to be as inventive during the pandemic simply to survive. Restaurants were among the first businesses to be slowed down, shut down or hit with never-before-seen safety protocols. However, the floodgates have opened, and customers are returning, nostalgic for what they had pre-pandemic. This has created a new dilemma for restaurants: a labor shortage. While the public enjoys once again being able to return to their favorite restaurant, not everything remains the same.
NRA Boosts 2021 Restaurant Sales Projection to $789B
Diner demand is still strong. he National Restaurant Association projects restaurant and foodservice industry sales for 2021 will total $789 billion, according to the organization’s State of the Restaurant Industry Mid-Year Report released Tuesday. The association previously projected sales to reach $731 billion in a report it released earlier this year. Citing increased consumer spending that resulted in consumers ordering takeout more frequently and increasing their on-premise visits, the NRA increased its sales projections for eating and drinking places from $548 billion to $609 billion. This includes increased sales projections for the full-service and limited services segments, as well as bars and taverns. While the estimated total sales across the industry is 19.7% higher than 2020 numbers, sales are still more than 8% lower than 2019 sales. Restaurants also continue to face ongoing labor and supply chain issues, rising wholesale food costs and shifts in diner behavior as delta variant COVID-19 cases rise across the U.S.
5 Ways Brands Can Set Themselves Up for Resilience
And remain viable in an unpredictable market. As the events that have unfolded over the past year and a half have shown, the world is fickle, and oftentimes, seemingly impossible to keep up with. That rings true not only for us as everyday citizens of the world, but also for the brands that are operating in it. By most accounts, the pandemic has dealt one of the most deafening blows to the global business community in modern history. And while communities are working to rebound in the wake of its impacts and revive their economies, the men and women behind the brands and businesses that we all know, and respect have been left to question whether or not they’re situated to handle any further setbacks. The solution? Put simply: Brands need to evaluate their inner workings and operations to begin equipping themselves with a certain degree of market resilience in order to remain viable, should another catastrophe hit. In pursuit of that, there are five immediate things to keep in mind and strive toward that will help businesses meet that end.
Restaurants Get Creative to Attract and Keep Workers
Adding new tricks to their toolboxes. Creativity appears to be key in the industry’s ongoing labor market struggles. Operators are, of course, increasing wages, but they’re also experimenting with more days off, new operating models and other perks to attract and retain employees. Here’s a look at some of those recent efforts to boost restaurant labor pools. (i) Higher wages; Riverside, Calif.-based fast casual Farmer Boys on Wednesday announced it would raise its minimum pay at all California company-owned restaurants to $15 an hour at the end of the month. The chain had previously bumped all restaurant-level pay by $1 about a year ago. (ii) Four-day work week; In addition to increasing wages, Washington, D.C.-based Knead Hospitality + Design is currently testing a four-day work week to see if it’s feasible for an operation of its size. (iii) New kitchen model; create a “collective kitchen” that allows all of the cooks the opportunity to take the lead.
Restaurants Grapple with Vaccine Mandate Policies
In historically tight labor market. To mandate, or not to mandate? That’s the question facing down restaurant owners and operators during one of the most challenging hiring environments in decades. The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, opening the door for workplaces to opt to require workers to have the shot. But between enhanced unemployment benefits, hesitancy surrounding Covid, child-care hurdles and more, the industry is already facing a shortage of available workers and adding a vaccine mandate to the picture could cut both ways. Big players in the industry have mostly remained silent on vaccine mandates for restaurant staff. McDonald’s recently pushed back its return-to-office date to Oct. 11 and said it will require its U.S. corporate workforce to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27, with exemptions for religious or medical reasons permitted. In New York City, restaurant workers need to have at least one dose of Covid vaccination under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC Pass program, which began this month and will be enforced on Sept. 13. Philippe Massoud, owner and chef at Ilili and Ilili Box, said that the mandate was not an issue for most of his staff. But he lost two, possibly three, workers who did not want to get vaccinated, and is short about 20 workers overall due to the labor crunch.
Evolving restaurants’ approach to brand love. It’s a cycle we all know well. Driven by the misnomer that brand loyalty comes from getting the most impressive reward, the biggest discount or the “best deal,” brand after brand has trained customers to hold off on their purchases until the next big sale or the next blowout event. Showcasing the discount then becomes the shortcut to boosting short-term metrics — while incentivizing the wrong behavior and taking a revenue hit in the process. What’s worse: There’s no deeper connection formed between the brand and the customer. The brands who are winning the day are the ones who are connection focused. That’s where brand love emerges. If we think about loyalty, it’s not a rational concept — it’s an emotional one. We’re loyal to people in our lives because we’ve shared little moments together and, over time, those moments coalesce into something greater and inexplicable. Restaurants can create that same bond, little by little, and they’re doing it all the time. Those story-worthy moments get amplified across social media and in “You’re not going to believe this!” posts that customers share with their friends and family.
New York’s Brief Hot Restaurant Summer
Restaurants steeled themselves for a post-pandemic summer of celebration. As the Covid-19 vaccines rolled out in the spring, many New Yorkers anticipated a summer filled with rampant pleasure and maskless debauchery. The overwhelming energy was: We’re off the hook, and it’s time to party. Restaurant staffs and owners braced themselves for a rush of guest turnout, mile-long drink bills and raucous behavior. And, for a brief, shining moment, they got it. Through June and July, the kind of New Yorkers who treat restaurants as nightlife had the hot vax summer they were promised. The pent-up desire to go out, eat and drink with abandon, and stay out until all hours was sated. In that fleeting moment of apparent safety — before the Delta variant became such a threat, and masks returned — dining out was a joyful and unburdened experience.
Did You Know?
54% say office reentry timelines have changed. More than half of professionals surveyed this month by the global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, said their company has changed its plans to return to the office right after Labor Day because of the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. The survey found that 54% said the reopening of offices had been delayed and 46% said it had not. When asked when they expected to their buildings to reopen, 20% of respondents said they were already back at work, 26% expect to return later in the fall or before the end of the year, 22% said they will be back in 2022, and 32% said they didn’t think they would ever return. Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents said vaccines or negative COVID-19 tests will be required before they are allowed to return, and 73% said masks will be required when inside the office.
Diner leaves $10,000 tip at Florida restaurant. A diner at a north Florida restaurant gathered the staff of 10 together to thank them for their hard work before leaving them a $10,000 tip to share. It happened last Tuesday night as the man, his wife and son finished their dinner at the Wahoo Seafood Grill, the Gainesville Sun reported. Among those benefitting from the big tip was Ashley Green, who was called into work that day. She had recently endured a rough time because her daughter was ill.
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.
We invite you to visit our website, where you will find all our current listing inventory, a library of helpful industry resources and a collection of client testimonials expressing their assessments on our work and our service within the restaurant industry.