New Jersey Announces New Indoor Dining Restrictions
Restaurants and bars statewide will now have to close their indoor areas by 10 p.m. Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in New Jersey — and across the country — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that restaurants and bars in the state would have to close their indoor dining areas by 10 p.m., and that bar seating is now prohibited indefinitely, Northjersey.com first reported. The state will, however, allow outdoor dining, along with takeout and delivery, to continue past 10 p.m., according to Murphy’s office. The new restrictions will go into effect on Thursday, November 12. At present, New Jersey allows for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, and several restaurants have been using bar seating to get to that percentage. With the absence of bar seats, the state has allowed restaurants to place tables less than six feet apart, but only if they are separated by a barrier. The state’s health department is expected to announce guidelines on what these barriers should look like.
Restaurants Struggling to Survive the Pandemic
Have a bombshell reason to celebrate with Pfizer vaccine news. The restaurant industry just got some good news after a rough year. Monday, pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced its vaccine helped prevent COVID-19 in the final stage of clinical trials. The news sent markets soaring, as people celebrated the possibility of a wider rollout. Restaurants were among the biggest winners, especially sit-down, casual dining chains. Ruth’s Chris’ shares were up more than 25%, Olive Garden’s parent company Darden surged more than 18%, and Applebee’s and IHOP’s parent Dine Brands’ shares shot up more than 16% on Monday.
Popular Jersey Shore Bar Had Coronavirus Outbreak
Among bartenders, servers, health officials say. At least eight bartenders and servers at Leggett’s on 1st Avenue in Manasquan contracted the virus, prompting a public health alert for patrons, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said at the coronavirus press conference in Trenton. (Persichilli initially reported the outbreak involved nine employees, but a Department of Health spokeswoman later clarified eight Leggett’s staff members were infected). The notification, read aloud at the press conference, notified New Jersey residents that anyone who visited the bar from Oct. 17 and Oct. 22 might have been exposed to COVID-19. The state visited the establishment on Oct. 23 and the restaurant management cooperated with health officials. Leggett’s announced it was closing for indoor dining on Oct. 22, but continued offering takeout and packaged goods, according to the bar’s website. Indoor dining resumed on Thursday.
Owners of Restaurants, Bars Looking for Answers
At virtual town hall meeting. A recent virtual town hall hosted NJBIA and the New Jersey Business Coalition drew more than 100 business owners and nonprofit leaders who discussed the challenges facing their industries because of the pandemic and state-ordered operating restrictions. Joe Cleary, CFO of Morey’s Piers in Wildwood; Bob Wagner, COO of Braddock’s Tavern and Ott’s Restaurants, and also the vice-chair of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association; Greg Goff Sr., owner of Casino Lobster Co. in Pleasantville; and Mark Bernard, General Manager of Charlie’s of Bay Head. “It is completely unfair and discriminatory in my eyes that the government is doing that and limiting us,” Bernard said during the town hall. “Winter is coming and they know they are in for some tough times ahead and they’re not going to be able to make it.”
Full-Service Restaurants May Not Recover Until 2025
New data show. Restaurant sales should bounce back strongly next year as consumers return to the industry as the coronavirus pandemic (hopefully) eases. But it won’t come all the way back. And some sectors will take a lot longer than others. That, at least, is according to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, which expects it to take until 2023 for the restaurant industry to fully recover—according to data presented at the FSTEC Community. But that recovery will be led by limited-service restaurants, and especially fast-food concepts, that have thrived on takeout, drive-thru service and delivery during the pandemic. Full-service is a much different story: The full-service sector isn’t expected to recover until 2025.
Driving Through Change
The revolution for restaurants. Restaurants are in the midst of a huge learning curve forced upon them by COVID-19. Now more than ever, it is important for any restaurant to be able to offer a variety of solutions for customers to receive and place their orders. While this conversion was already on the drawing board for many operators prior to the pandemic, it has now become a critical situation that restaurants must incorporate into their business model. Or they could cease to operate if they cannot adapt. The top mission in today’s restaurant business now includes the ability for customers to order online, have options for enhanced phone orders, be offered convenient and safe pickup solutions, efficient drive-through lanes, and home delivery. For both fast food and full-service restaurants, the future store design will most likely include many building modifications the pandemic forced upon the restaurant industry. Some of these include, little or no lobby space, reduced dine-in space, exterior areas with food lockers for online orders or delivery personnel, less building square footage, external walk-up windows serving as an alternate place to order or retrieve carryout orders, and dedicated parking spaces for curbside delivery.
The True Cost of Keeping a Restaurant Open
During the pandemic In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Bay Area, Pim Techamuanvivit was forced to close the original location of Kin Khao, the critically acclaimed Thai restaurant she had opened in 2015 at the Parc 55 Hotel in Union Square. She kept her second restaurant, Nari, open, turning the six-month-old space in Japantown’s Kabuki Hotel into a takeout operation. As summer waned and restrictions relaxed enough to allow outdoor dining on sidewalks throughout the city, Techamuanvivit was readying the Kabuki’s driveway to accommodate dinner service and waiting for the go-ahead to launch Kin Khao’s new Dogpatch location. The Union Square address remained on indefinite hiatus while she continued to pay its rent. I haven’t paid myself from either restaurant this year, period, because at Nari, I’m supposed to be paid quarterly, and the time to pay me was when we had to close, and I’d rather keep that cash to operate the restaurants right now.
Gobble Up Great Ideas for Thanksgiving To-Go
Specialized meal kits and full restaurant-prepared dinners can spruce up sales during the holiday. With social distancing still in play, people are planning fewer parties and gatherings, particularly for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And when they do hold gatherings, they’re going to be significantly smaller in size. According to a Mintel survey, 52% of consumers who ordered food from restaurants during the past three months said they’d purchase a catered restaurant meal for a social gathering. Another 32% said they would dine at a restaurant on a special occasion. Industry experts claim people are tired of cooking at home and want to dine out again. Operators can capitalize on that pent-up demand by offering them a restaurant Thanksgiving experience at home. Operators have opportunities to generate revenue with specialized meal kits and dinners that feed up to six people, holiday to-go cocktails, homemade baked goods, and special sauces and condiments that guests can’t get anywhere else or make on their own.
Did You Know?
We salute Veteran’s Day and work to give back to those who serve. To help service men and women transition into civilian careers after military service, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers a series of programs to help them acquire the skills and training needed to develop careers in the restaurant industry. The industry is a logical professional choice for many service men and women, says Ed Walden, the Foundation’s director of military programs. He notes that a number of them already have foodservice experience and crave the stability the industry can offer. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for these men and women so they can come into our industry and learn, train and develop,” he said. “They can move into manager positions or go from being cooks to chefs. Our mission is to help them grow and get promoted from there.”
Apprenticeship is a great way for employees to advance. It’s National Apprenticeship Week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s annual celebration of employee opportunity and advancement, and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is putting the spotlight on the myriad pathways restaurant and hospitality workers, young adults and veterans can advance their careers through tailored apprenticeships. Launched in 2017, the Foundation’s Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship program, developed in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation, offers two tracks: (i) restaurant management; (ii) lodging management. After program participants complete these competency-based apprenticeship programs, they are certified and typically see a 14% increase in wages. More than 2,500 apprentices are earning while they learn and the program boasts an 80% retention rate.
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