$15M in Grants Being Made Available
To NJ small businesses & nonprofits. Gov. Phil Murphy today signed legislation that will make $15 million in grants available to small businesses and nonprofits in the state. To be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), the federal funds are part of five-bill, $100-million relief package. According to Tim Sullivan, NJEDA CEO, the authority’s board will meet this Wednesday to discuss and approve the details of this and other aid bills the governor recently signed. “The process for [applying for the grants] will kick off during the second part of this month,” Sullivan said. “This [money] is going to get out the door prudently, judiciously and expeditiously because businesses can’t wait.” Gov. Murphy thanked New Jersey’s Congressional delegation for being able to put “hundreds of millions of dollars directly into downtown small businesses and community nonprofits.” He also commended the NJEDA for distributing more than $250 million in aid to some 55,500 businesses over the past year.
NJ Restaurant Industry Gets $35M
In relief funds. Gov. Murphy today signed into law A-5444, which provides $35 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for restaurants throughout New Jersey. The bill provides aid to a particularly hard-hit sector of New Jersey’s economy and is part of a five-bill, $100 million relief effort aimed at helping small businesses recover from the year-long pandemic. “For the past year, our restaurants have fought the good fight, and we know that fight has not been easy,” Murphy said. “This legislation will provide a much-needed lifeline to small business owners, who, through no fault of their own, have been devastated by this pandemic.” “Our restaurants aren’t just a part of our economy. Our entire food scene reflects our diversity and core values,” the governor added. “Together, we must fight to protect and strengthen it. The relief aid will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. To date, the NJEDA has distributed more than $250 million in aid to some 55,000 businesses across the state.
What the Future of Restaurants Will Look Like
Post-Pandemic. It’s been a year since the coronavirus pandemic upended the U.S. restaurant industry, necessitating innovations in takeout, carry-out cocktails, expanding outdoor dining and contactless technology. Trends that weren’t supposed to take hold for years have occurred at an accelerated rate. “Looking at 2020, obviously it was the worst year in history for the United States restaurant industry,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the research and knowledge group for the National Restaurant Association. “In all the industries in America, the restaurant industry was the most impacted in terms of employment and sales decline.” Riehle said 2020 ended with an estimated $240 billion less sales than 2019 — a 19.2% decrease — and that 2 million restaurant workers remain out of work, even though the country is staring to reopen.
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 an interesting interview with celebrity chef David Burke.
Restaurants Face a New Hurdle
Finding workers. Owners across the country report a shortage in help, as rebounding business forces them to compete for a shrunken pool of applicants. A staffing shortage seems counterintuitive in a business that has been devastated by the pandemic, with mass layoffs and an alarming number of permanent closings. It comes just as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion grant program for struggling small restaurants, bars and restaurant groups, is gearing up to take applications, and as diners who have eaten at home for a year feel increasingly liberated by vaccines. Owners and chefs at full-service restaurants say the main reason staffing remains stubbornly low is that there are simply many more job openings than available workers.
Restaurants Could See Up to 30% Check Boost
From latest stimulus. The $1,400 stimulus checks rolling out to consumer’s bank accounts as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan are expected to lift restaurant sales by as much as 20% to 30% during the next several weeks, according to a report from Rabobank using Earnest Research. This forecast is double what the previous two rounds of stimulus checks provided restaurants. During the four weeks immediately after those payments were made, restaurant spending was up 10% to 15%. Delivery spending in particular grew by 24 to 50 percentage points during the first stimulus and about 20 to 40 percentage points during the second stimulus round.
Eliminating Tipping Can Help Restaurants
Both serve customers better and provide for workers. During the pandemic, many restaurants changed the way they paid employees: the lack of dine-in customers resulted in the significant loss of tip income, forcing restaurant operators to find a better way. But one California restaurant that opened in 2019 with a hospitality-included model — no tipping — now offers valuable advice about rethinking the compensation formula. With tipping, you are basically asking your customer to give you anywhere from 10% to 20% of what your revenue should be. That cost then goes into the true expense of paying your employees so that they can have livable wages, and I just find that to be very backwards because there’s no other industry, really, that such a large portion of a person’s wage depends on something the company they’re working for doesn’t control.
Some NYC Restaurants Tire
Of forking over delivery-app fees. In recent years, New York City restaurants have complained about the fees that third-party ordering and delivery platforms, such as Grubhub and DoorDash, charge them. Those concerns have only escalated during the pandemic, when dining spots have become more dependent on meals to go for their financial survival. Now, restaurants are increasingly finding a way around the issue by avoiding the platforms and assuming ownership of the process themselves. And they say the benefits go beyond the potential savings on third-party fees. “It’s having a direct line of communication with our customers,” said Jon Sherman, chief executive officer of Sticky’s Finger Joint, a chicken-centric chain with several locations in the city.
Travelers Are Now Booking Restaurants and Hotels
Based on their pandemic policies. The hospitality and restaurant industries were among those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 2.5 million restaurant jobs were lost, and nearly four in 10 of all U.S. jobs lost since last February were in the hotel industry. Because of this, many restaurant owners and hoteliers are doing everything they can to lure back customers. From temperature checks upon arrival to personal dining yurts, the hospitality industry has spent millions of dollars trying to convince patrons their businesses are safe. But during the pandemic, travelers are turning to the internet more than ever for information. And for many people, a hotel’s or restaurant’s COVID-19 safety policy seems to directly influence whether they make a reservation or book a room. And there’s some data to back this up: An early January Yelp study found consumer interest rose 41% for companies that had COVID-19-specific updates in their listings.
Did You Know?
You’re vaccinated now, so can you go to a restaurant. If you’re planning to eat out, first check whether the restaurant is complying with the CDC’s recommended prevention measures. You can look at the restaurant’s website or call the business and ask. Restaurants that reduce risks include establishments that have outdoor, distanced seating available; have both staff and guests wear masks when not eating or drinking; and have their menu available online. Eating and drinking at an establishment’s outdoor space is safer, the CDC says, since air or respiratory droplets potentially laden with coronavirus wouldn’t be flowing around in an enclosed space. Limit your alcohol consumption so that you can use adequate judgment. Ask for individually wrapped condiments — including salt, pepper and ketchup — if possible, and don’t share food. Since your risk of infection increases the longer you stay in an area, limit the time you’re at the restaurant, the CDC suggested.
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Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Alerts
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Bielat Santore & Company teamed up with SCORE NJ, the states’ largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors to present a series of webinars on small business financing for the hospitality industry. The initial March 4th webinar was well-attended and well-received. The third and final webinar in the 3-part series will take place on Thursday, April 15th at 10:00am. The topic for this webinar is “Creating Financial Proformas.” Sign up now!