The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Is Dead
The Senate failed to pass the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022. After months of political jockeying, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is officially dead. On Thursday, the Senate voted down the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022, which would’ve added $40 billion in relief for the thousands of restaurant owners across the country still struggling after shutdowns, staffing shortages, and more operational woes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Put simply, restaurateurs can be all but assured that no more assistance is on the way from the federal government. The vote on the Act, co-sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), wasn’t even close — it failed 52 to 43, much to the dismay of lobbying groups like the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the National Restaurant Association. “Neighborhood restaurants nationwide have held out hope for this program, selling their homes, cashing out retirement funds, or taking personal loans in an effort to keep their employees working and their doors open,” IRC president Erika Polmar said in a statement. National Restaurant Association president Michelle Korsmo echoed those sentiments, saying that today’s vote will “result in more economic hardships for the families and communities across the country that rely on the restaurant industry.”
Indies Are Frustrated, Angry and Ready to Fight
After RRF failure. Independent restaurant operators say they are not giving up their political fervor following the death of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, even though they may have to give up their restaurants. Erika Polmar spent much of Thursday counseling independent restaurant owners. The U.S. Senate had just dashed all hopes of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, whose organization spent months lobbying for the $48 billion aid package, shifted to listening mode. “There are some people whose businesses are going to be forced to close,” Polmar said. “We’re expecting many of these businesses to be forced into bankruptcy. There’s a lot of peer-to-peer counseling going on right now. Simultaneously, there’s an immense will to fight.” Passage of the bill would have added $40 billion to the RRF, a refilling of the $28.6 billion fund that ran out swiftly last year after only assisting just over 100,000 applicants among the more than 278,000 restaurants that applied. Polmar’s group has estimated that more than half of the 177,300 restaurants that didn’t get RRF aid the first funding round would close in a few months.
$34 for Plate of Chicken Wings
Restaurants Grapple with Food Inflation. Restaurant owners are debating whether to charge patrons as much as $34 for a plate of chicken wings or to scrap items from the menu altogether as inflation continues to surge nationwide, according to a report. Jeff Good, the co-founder of three restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi, runs a pizzeria called Sal and Mookie’s which offers a 15-piece order of chicken wings. Before the coronavirus pandemic, diners could order the dish for $13.95. Now the item is listed on the menu for $27.95, though Good told Bloomberg News that the “real cost” is closer to around $34. “We have never, ever seen anything like what we’re seeing right now,” Good said. He told Bloomberg that a year-and-a-half ago, he would buy a 40-pound box of chicken wings for around $85. Now the price has nearly doubled to $150. Good attributed the surging price to the higher costs for ingredients such as cooking oil and flour, the price of which has also doubled in the last few months. A gallon of milk costs 25% more today than it did before the pandemic while retail bacon now costs 35% more.
Flip the Script on the Labor Challenge
Do you like to be managed? We all know that the nationwide labor crunch at present probably won’t let up anytime soon. In the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, they found that roughly half of restaurant operators expect that recruiting and retaining workers will be their biggest challenge this year. A recent Alignable poll painted a more dismal picture, finding that 85% of restaurant owners said it was very difficult to find staff. These numbers may be directly tied to the last two years of turmoil in the industry, but we’ve been seeing this shift happening for a while. If you’re struggling to recruit and retain employees, then it’s time to take a good honest look at your restaurant’s culture. Your success in the restaurant industry is directly related to how well you recruit, train and develop your employees. No matter your growth goals, you will never have the success that you desire if you can’t get others to do the things you need them to do, how you need them to do it, and when you need them to do it. If you can’t master these skills, you will be limited in your success. Let’s face it, you won’t accomplish much in the restaurant industry without the help of your team.
Where Can Growth-Minded Restaurants Go for Capital These Days
Numerous paths to financing growth. When it comes to financing the growth of Turning Point, Kirk Ruoff hasn’t been bashful. Since first opening his upscale breakfast and lunch concept in 1998—a modest 1,100-square-foot, 12-seat eatery in Little Silver, New Jersey—Ruoff has repeatedly bet on Turning Point’s ability to overcome the restaurant industry’s historically long odds. Early on, Ruoff used loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), partnerships with contractors, existing cash flow, and even mortgage liens on his home to open new Turning Point stores. “You do what you’ve got to do,” Ruoff says. In 2019, with 15 Turning Point restaurants in operation, Ruoff embraced private equity, inking a minority ownership deal with NewSpring Capital to kickstart additional restaurant openings. Now, Ruoff, a former Chili’s manager who has shepherded Turning Point’s evolution into a three-state, 21-unit concept, is entering the franchising game, where growth can come fast and furious with other people’s money. “With franchising, we can go faster and work with people familiar with their own markets,” Ruoff says. There are, as Ruoff can attest, numerous paths to financing growth in the restaurant world, but these are particularly interesting times. Not only are many full-service restaurants climbing out of pandemic-era holes, but inflation, ongoing labor issues, and supply chain challenges have further intensified the inherent risk in operating full-service restaurants, a reality testing owners’ abilities to wrangle expansion dollars.
Tesla Gets Serious About Plans for Drive-In Restaurant
The company submitted blueprints for a diner. Elon Musk could be getting into the restaurant business for real this time. Electric car company Tesla, of which Musk is CEO, submitted plans last week for a 24-hour charging station in Los Angeles that would also include a drive-in restaurant and movie theater, more than four years after Musk first aired the idea in a tweet. The proposed Tesla Supercharger Diner & Drive-In would replace a Shakey’s Pizza restaurant at 7001 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. It would include a two-story restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating as well as two movie screens and 34 Tesla charging ports. The idea is to give Tesla owners something to do while they wait for their car to charge, which takes about half an hour, according to the plans submitted Thursday with LA’s planning department. The restaurant will also be open to the public. The plans are the automaker’s latest step into the world of foodservice, which it views as a way to support its EV charging stations, or Superchargers.
As Takeout and Delivery Grow, So Do the Options for Packaging
At the National Restaurant Association Show, the container options were numerous and varied. In some respects, the National Restaurant Show could have easily been called the National Container Show for all the takeout packaging on display during the four-day event. To be sure, a show that brings in tens of thousands of restaurant operators to a single location over a few days is bound to have plenty of displays of takeout packaging. Yet the companies showing at the exhibition offered a breadth of options and innovations never before seen. Packaging is made from more and different materials, and much of it was reusable. All of that reflects the rapidly evolving packaging industry. Growing demand for takeout and delivery—and from a wider variety of restaurant concepts—has forced that business to adapt to offer more options. Evolving government regulations, notably bans or limits on single-use plastics, have also led to changes, as has demand from restaurants for more sustainable or even reusable options. Oh, and the pandemic and limits on the supply chain threw a big wrench into the works.
New Media Marketing for Restaurants
Attracting guests hungry for something new. As the move to digital media continues to increase, and traditional media decreases year-over-year, restaurants need to cater their marketing efforts the same way. Digital marketing allows businesses to connect with customers in ways impossible through traditional means. For a restaurant to thrive and reach its demographics in today’s new market it is important to look at the differences between traditional media and digital media, to understand how consumers engage with brands on different social media platforms, and how to connect with your target audience using new media marketing. Social media is an amazing marketing tool for restaurants. In fact, 45 percent of diners in the U.S. say that they’ve tried a restaurant for the first time because of a post they saw on social media. With visually focused platforms like Instagram and TikTok, restaurants can post pictures of different meals, videos of happy customers, and behind-the-scenes peeks into the back-of-house. These posts give viewers a glimpse of the restaurant experience and atmosphere before they ever set foot inside the building. By posting regular content on social media and your website, you will be able to increase brand recognition, connect with your customers, and increase your sales.
Did You Know?
How to build a new customer base for your restaurant. Operating a successful restaurant is no easy task, and the fruits of your labor are dependent on a variety of factors. Quality food and top tier service with the incentivization of loyalty programs and a good location should be enough to get a good share of local customers. But what happens when you hit your local ceiling? Society Insurance has compiled three tips to help find new customers for your restaurant and bar.
Hospitality educator blends practical with theoretical to prepare tomorrow’s leaders. Karen Goodlad, CSW, is an Associate Professor at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York where she was recently named the Interim Chair of the Department of Hospitality Management. Specializing in beverage management, she teaches an array of courses preparing students to become leaders in the hospitality industry. Her academic publications highlight her work as a hospitality educator and cover topics such as place-based learning, the first-year transition to college, and wine education.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Alert
MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ “RESTAURANT – BAR” FOR SALE
Photo shown to illustrate a “Restaurant-Bar” only. Not actual representation.
Well-maintained Middlesex County, NJ restaurant and bar; highly visible highway location; free-standing 6,092 square foot on 2-acre lot; classic design & décor; completely remodeled; bar seats 70, 130 for dining and 100 outdoors; currently grossing $2M+ far below facility potential; financing available to qualified.
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Contact Richard Santore, 732.531.4200 for additional information.
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