N.J. Governor’s Race is a Virtually Even Election
Here’s what’s next for Murphy, Ciattarelli. They are separated by a cat’s whisker of a margin. And anyone hoping for a resolution of New Jersey’s closest gubernatorial election in four decades will likely be disappointed. As of 9:56 a.m., Gov. Phil Murphy was leading Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli by just 1,408 votes after a pause in counting at 3 a.m. that saw Ciattarelli up front by 1,193 votes. But 158 of the state’s 6,348 voting districts were still missing from the totals. In Union County, for example — one of the state’s largest counties that votes heavily Democratic — 95% of the votes had been counted and reported in the governor’s election as of 11:23 p.m. Tuesday. But the county clerk’s office stopped counting votes at that time. Before the vote count was halted there, Murphy had a sizable lead over Ciattarelli in Union County, with 76,737 votes reported for the incumbent Democrat and 48,502 votes reported for the Republican challenger.
Landmark COVID-19 Business Interruption Lawsuit Defeated
In jury trial. After Kansas City brewery/restaurant group K.C. Hopps became the first of many similar cases to successfully bring a lawsuit against its insurance company for pandemic-related claims to a jury trial, the restaurant group was defeated in court on Oct. 28. According to Kansas City federal court documents, the jury found that Cincinnati Insurance Co. Inc. does not have to cover the losses sustained by K.C. Hopps due to COVID-19-incurred losses. “We thank the jury for their time and attention through the trial,” Cincinnati Insurance said in a statement on Friday, according to Claims Journal. “We are pleased that they unanimously agreed with us that our commercial property insurance policy does not provide coverage for these COVID-19 losses. In September, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Bough upheld his ruling that K.C. Hopps sustained “direct physical loss or physical damage during the pandemic” on the basis of claims that COVID-19 was physically present on the premises. “Whether the virus was present on plaintiff’s premises, whether it actually caused a physical loss or physical damage to plaintiff’s premises, and the extent of plaintiff’s damages due to that ‘loss’ are genuine issues of material fact which preclude summary judgment,” the previous ruling said.
Higher Restaurant Wages Whack Profits
Some warn more pain is still ahead. Customers are returning to restaurants in droves, but workers haven’t, putting even more pressure on fast-food chains to retain market share and protect profits while navigating a tight labor market. Restaurant executives have painted a bleak picture of staffing challenges to investors on their earnings calls in the last two weeks. CEOs like Domino’s Pizza’s Ritch Allison, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Brian Niccol and McDonald’s Chris Kempczinski shared details on how eateries have shortened hours, restricted ordering methods and lost out on sales because they can’t find enough workers. Some chains have been hit harder by the labor crunch, like Restaurant Brands International’s Popeyes, which saw about 40% of its dining rooms closed due to understaffing. Raising wages is one popular approach to staffing problems, although it isn’t a perfect solution. McDonald’s wages at its franchised restaurants have risen roughly 10% so far this year as part of an effort to attract workers. Higher labor costs have led to increased menu prices, which are up about 6% from a year ago, according to McDonald’s executives.
Restaurants, recipes, events & more. Thanksgiving is, for many, the most anticipated holiday of the year. Sure, there aren’t as many gifts involved as during the month of December, but isn’t all the food you can eat shared among family and friends really the greatest gift of all? Plus, it’s a day of guilt-free football binge-watching and, for those brave enough, a long night of endless shopping. At Best of NJ, we’re laying out a spread of the best Thanksgiving content we can cook up. From original editorials to statewide event listings (including parades and restaurants holding their annual activities), this Thanksgiving NJ page is your starting point for a complete guide that will continuously update throughout the season. In case you’ve arrived early and would like to check out some other fall-themed content, be sure to head over to our NJ Fall page, which features a similarly comprehensive seasonal guide. If you’re instead searching for Halloween content, we’ve got a guide for that too. Alright, with all that out of the way, go forth and be merry! Enjoy the holiday season, folks!
The Last Straw
Restaurants prepare for new rules on plastics effective Nov. 4. Starting Thursday (Nov. 4), restaurants, convenience stores and other food-service businesses must comply with a new state law that prohibits them from providing customers with single-use plastic drinking straws unless the customer has specifically requested one. The new restriction does not impact the sale of beverages that are prepackaged with a plastic drinking straw, such as juice boxes, nor does it apply to the sale of boxes of straws in food stores. The by-request-only restriction on plastic single-use drinking straws applies to all food-service businesses, including restaurants, convenience stores and fast-food establishments. It is part of a broader state law enacted in 2020 aimed at reducing pollution. Other provisions, which take effect May 4, 2022, include bans on single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags at grocery stores of 2,500 square feet or more, and polystyrene foam food-service products.
Where Are All the Servers?
Why your restaurant workers aren’t showing up and how you can change that. If you’re struggling to staff your restaurants, know that your operation isn’t alone. The U.S. is facing a critical labor shortage, particularly hourly restaurant and hospitality workers. “The Great Resignation” that ramped up over the summer saw more than 706,000 food service workers leave their jobs in restaurants, dining facilities, bars, and hotels during May alone. An inordinate number of eateries are closing early or altogether because of the severe labor shortage; there aren’t enough workers to keep the doors open. It’s not just impacting small franchises or mom-and-pop outfits. Even well-funded university dining halls are closing their doors. Vanderbilt University charges roughly $80,000 in tuition annually and still had to shut down its largest dining hall for dinner service. It’s time for restaurant operators to look hard at why their servers aren’t showing up and solve that issue for the short and long term.
Pandemic Financial Strategies
For restaurants. In order for restaurant owners to receive the biggest financial and tax benefits, it is important to evaluate individualized goals and decide what works best for your business. Working with an accountant familiar with the restaurant industry can be a crucial step in ensuring your restaurant survives COVID and is equipped to withstand any future crisis. It is important for restaurant owners to keep financial records up to date and maintain accurate statements. When you are dealing with current numbers you can make better, more effective business decisions. Restaurant owners should be aware of their tax liabilities, including payroll and sales taxes, and obligations for accurate financial statements. These statements are used when filing annual business tax returns, which have the potential to yield benefits for restaurants at the federal and state levels. As a restaurant owner, it is helpful to be aware of the kind of liabilities your business has, and make sure that you have adequate assets to pay them. Many businesses set up separate bank accounts as a place to deposit funds for unforeseen situations.
Starbucks Refocuses on Growth
After shifting its business. Starbucks is refocusing on unit growth again after the company shifted its business toward more takeout-focused locations during the pandemic. The Seattle-based coffee giant last week said it plans to open about 2,000 net new locations during the current fiscal year, which started in October. That would be the largest number in four years and would represent about 6% unit growth. To be sure, it isn’t as if Starbucks actually pulled back last year. The company still opened a net 1,173 global locations during the 12-month period, thanks entirely to aggressive international development. But it’s been pulling back in North America. The company opted to close about 600 locations in the U.S. last year as part of a strategy to refocus its asset base. Starbucks closed cafes in urban areas and shifted away from mall development toward takeout-focused urban locations and drive-thru units. Yet in the process Starbucks shrunk.
Restaurants Prepare for Outdoor Dining Options
This Winter. Winter is coming and restaurants are getting ready, making sure outdoor dining can still be an option. The igloos are back at Toro Loco. The Farmington restaurant bought them last year when indoor dining wasn’t on the menu, but now it’s a way to seat more diners when it’s cold out. “Just because last year kind of set that precedent, people are looking for those outdoor dining options this year and for those things to continue,” said Shawna Hapgood, general manager of Toro Loco. Even with pandemic-era restrictions gone for months, restaurants still are playing catch up, and it’s because of the same issues — staffing shortages and rising costs. “The cost to do business is just going up exponentially, I think that’s the burden these restaurants have right now is how do you balance that, how do you try break even,” said Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Dolch said this winter will be another big test for the industry’s survival.
Did You Know?
Burger King is giving out Cryptocurrency to loyalty members. Burger King’s hopes to lure customers to its loyalty program with a little crypto. The burger chain plans to give out cryptocurrency to members of its Royal Perks loyalty program who spend $5 on the app, website or in the store between now and Nov. 21. Most of the cryptocurrency being given out will be in dogecoin, worth about 27 cents according to the website Coin Market Cap. But a few customers will get cryptocurrency that is far more valuable, including a full etherium, which is worth about $4,300, or Bitcoin, currently valued at about $61,000. Burger King is working with the investment app Robinhood Crypto on the giveaway. The burger chain will give away a total of 20 bitcoin, 200 etherium and 2 million dogecoin.
Pay increases for low-wage workers are staying ahead of rising costs. American workers have seen larger compensation increases in the past 12 months than they’ve seen in years, but many have actually slid behind due to rising prices on everything from appliances, to beef, to cars. Wages and salaries have gone up 4.2% since September 2021, according to the latest US government figures, but that has not kept pace with inflation, which last clocked in at 5.4%. What that means is the average worker has about 1.2% less spending power this year, rather than the 1.2% more they might have had if inflation remained at the long-term trend of about 3%.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
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NEW LISTING – MIDDLESEX COUNTY, ITALIAN RESTAURANT/PIZZERIA
Opportunity to purchase an existing Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria with average sales over $1M past three years. Turn-key business – close proximity to major college campus. Accounts in place for catering events including a strong delivery business.
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