Murphy Not Ready to Expand Capacity for Gyms, Indoor Dining
What you need to know. Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday said it will take a “a sustained lack of outbreaks” for him to expand the 25% capacity limits that are in effect across the state at gym and inside restaurants. Murphy declined to provide a timetable, saying “I hope it’s sooner than later,” at his coronavirus press conference in Trenton. “The weather is an X factor here.” Some lawmakers and restaurant owners have complained that they are still losing significant business at 25% capacity. And then there is the fear that outdoor dining will no longer be an option soon as the weather turns colder.
Restaurants and Bars Now Included in $3 Trillion Federal Aid Proposal
The RESTAURANTS Act is set to be rolled into the $3 trillion stimulus package. Independent restaurants and bars are one step closer to getting a seat at the table in Washington when it comes to plans for federal relief amid the pandemic. The House of Representatives’ latest federal aid proposal will now include the bipartisan, bicameral RESTAURANTS Act as part of the $3 trillion stimulus package. If signed into law, the bipartisan bill would establish a $120 billion grant program for independent restaurants and bars. Eligible establishments include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, saloons, inns, taverns, and bars.
Pandemic Forces a Reckoning for Restaurants
Coping with capacity limits and new consumer habits Heading into 2020, the restaurant industry was poised for another year of growth. One of operators’ biggest concerns was the shortage of workers to keep up with demand. Delivery was lifting revenue, although it remained a small part of the overall business. But the coronavirus pandemic flipped the industry on its head, leading millions to lose their jobs and a substantial portion of restaurants to close permanently as consumers changed how and where they ate. More than six months after states implemented stay-at-home orders, over 100,000 bars and restaurants — or 15% of all eating and drinking establishments — have permanently closed, according to National Restaurant Association estimates. The trade group forecasts $240 billion in restaurant sales will be lost this year to the pandemic.
Restaurants Brace for an Uncertain Future
As outdoor dining ends. Summer is officially over, and with temperatures beginning to drop, restaurant owners are bracing for the unknown. With indoor dining limited to just 25-50% of normal capacity in the tri-state area because of the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurateurs have come to rely on seating their guests outdoors as a way of increasing the number of diners they can serve without butting up against state mandates. Restaurant parking lots lined with tables spaced 6 feet apart have become a common site this summer. Some establishments even put up large tents to better protect diners from the elements in order to boost business. But with shorter days and colder nights moving in, restaurant owners are preparing for a winter of limited capacity, which will likely result in less revenue. Some establishments are even preparing to close if business drops off.
Four Strategies That Just Might Help Restaurants Make It Through Winter
After six months of reinvention, some pivots are proving more successful than others. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exercise in throwing ideas against the walls of empty dining rooms and seeing what sticks. Restaurant owners morphed into makeshift grocers when supermarket shelves were sparsely stocked, figured out how to deliver margaritas by the quart, and cheekily seated stuffed animals at tables left vacant to comply with capacity limits on indoor dining. To borrow a phrase from Billy Beane in Moneyball, these businesses must “adapt or die.” While any attempt to innovate amid uncertainty is worthwhile, the time to distinguish between half-baked pivots and fully executed pirouettes is now. Several strategies restaurants and bars have utilized have proven to be more successful than others, especially if success is measured in new and different ways.
The Outlook for NYC Restaurants and Workers Remains Bleak
Despite indoor dining’s return. As New York’s outdoor dining program loses a bit of its cachet as the weather turns cooler, more will turn to indoor dining, which is inherently risky from a disease transmission perspective, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. But here, let’s look at the economics of it: Indoor dining begins at 25 percent capacity next week, which means a restaurant with 36 seats will only be able to accommodate 9 customers at a time. Such limited service won’t translate into big gains in either revenues or hiring. Throughout the rest of the state, where indoor dining at half-capacity has been in effect for over two months, the industry is still only at about 72 percent of pre-pandemic employment, according to Eater estimates.
Scores of Napa Wineries, Restaurants, and Resorts
Have been damaged by the glass incident fire. A swiftly moving wildfire that ignited on the Napa-Sonoma County border just a few days ago has grown to 42,560 acres, according to CalFire’s incident report at 9 a.m. Tuesday. So far, it is completely uncontained, officials say, and has destroyed 113 structures. Among those damaged or lost are 14 restaurants, resorts, and wineries, including Calistoga Ranch and St. Helena’s vaunted Restaurant at Meadowood. Napa’s 3-Michelin-Star Restaurant at Meadowood has burned to the ground. As the day went on, the destruction list mounted. In addition to a multitude of residences and commercial buildings, at least eight wineries were damaged or completely lost.
Did You Know?
With health a top priority, restaurants race to innovate. Health concerns remain the No. 1 thing keeping consumers away from dining rooms. Sixty percent said they would avoid visiting a restaurant in the next month because they were afraid of getting sick. On the front-of-house side, consumers want less friction and more security. A quarter of drive-thru consumers, for instance, said limited or zero contact with restaurant staff is important to them in light of COVID-19. So why are restaurants making big investments in technology now? Why not just ride this out with a few hand-sanitizer stations and tables spaced 6 feet apart?
How to switch careers even if you think it’s impossible. If you’re thinking about shifting careers, you’re far, far, far from alone. In fact, it’s becoming the new normal: 49% of people say they’ve made a dramatic career switch, according to a recent Indeed survey. Millennials in particular are virtually turning it into a hobby: Gallup found in 2016 that 21% of those in the generation said they’d changed jobs within the past year, more than three times the number of non-millennials who reported the same. That doesn’t mean the pivot is easy, especially when you’re reaching for a very different line of work. Add a pandemic and a volatile job market, and it can feel nearly impossible for some of us to consider suddenly adopting a new profession.
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