NJ Assembly Puts Off Vote on Regional Business Reopening
Restaurants Bills. A bill before the Assembly today that would have required county-based plans for imposing or lifting business operating restrictions, instead of the statewide, one-size-fits-all executive orders that have been used since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, was not acted upon as scheduled. The bill, S-3093/A-4910, supported by NJBIA and sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) and Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), would require a color-categorized (red, yellow, green) mitigation plan based on local conditions and data. Decisions affecting business operations would correlate to the spread of COVID-19 in that particular county. Additionally, other bills NJBIA was supporting were also held today, a legislative package sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-6) that will also help those in the restaurant industry.
Restaurant Industry Sales Struggle Through Winter
Help from government needed now. Today the National Restaurant Association released new data showing that the industry continues to struggle in pandemic conditions. In a letter to Congressional leadership, the Association highlighted how the results demonstrate a continued vulnerability for the nation’s second-largest private sector employer and warrants prompt passage of the $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in the American Rescue Plan. “The Restaurant Revitalization Fund represents the culmination of a year’s worth of advocacy and development toward an industry-specific solution,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Prompt passage and implementation will provide new relief opportunities for some of the nation’s hardest-hit restaurants and communities. Help for restaurants is help for employees and communities, and a signal that our country is one step closer to turning a corner.”
Restaurants Move One Step Closer
To $25 Billion in relief. The House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill early Saturday, meaning restaurants are one step closer toward $25 billion in relief. As part of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, food and drink entities with 20 locations or fewer will qualify for grants equal to the difference between 2020 and 2019 revenue, up to $10 million per company and $5 million per physical location. The grants may cover such items as payroll, rent and utilities, operational expenses, paid sick leave, food and beverage expenses, maintenance expenses, and more. Additionally, the fund earmarks $5 billion for applicants with revenue of $500,000 or less and $20 billion for “eligible entities of different sizes based on annual gross receipts.” During the first 21 days, the application process will prioritize restaurants owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
Recession, Resilience and the Eventual Restaurant Industry Recovery
A look at the market. COVID-19 has been a devastatingly destabilizing force for the food service industry. This time last year, industry revenue was strong, job growth was evident, and small business diversity was alive. But a few short weeks would change everything, from in-person dining to supply chain access to consumer standards regarding health, safety, and sustainability. Now, after one full year of COVID-related complications, restaurateurs face a near-apocalyptic industry landscape. Restaurateurs have left no stone unturned: they’ve employed third-party delivery services, moved further toward e-commerce, and set up outdoor dining to engage with patrons safely. But after four quarters of diminished budgets, decreased revenues, and dejected spirits, a main concern is the matter of space. But a recent market analysis points toward a comeback in physical real estate. Patron demand is expected to return with a pent-up appetite for in-person dining. Restaurateurs who are able to innovate their offerings and cater to both delivery and in-person needs will be in the opportune position to survive this moment of despair in the industry. They’ll find themselves on the other side of the pandemic with renewed customer affinity.
With the End of the Pandemic in Sight
Investors eye casual dining. While the market for restaurants has been bifurcated so far, that could end as some foresee a return to in-restaurant dining. For much of the past year—and before that, if we’re being honest—the market for restaurants was different depending on what kind of service the concept deployed. Counter service with a drive-thru? That market has been hot. Got wait staff? Don’t hold your breath for much. That could be changing. With the end of the pandemic in sight as cases plunge and more people get vaccinated, some investors are starting to consider putting their money into full-service restaurants. “I am starting to see more and more folks who see the light at the end of the tunnel and are therefore ready to wade into the right situations,” Josh Benn, global head of consumer, food, restaurant and corporate at Duff & Phelps, a Kroll Business. There are a good number of forward-looking investors with enough conviction to start to make investments into the full-service dining space.
Catered Events in Age of Coronavirus
Here are the NY state guidelines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that catered affairs, such as weddings of up to 150 people or 50% capacity of a catering hall space, can happen come March 15. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all New Yorkers, our infection rate is now the lowest we’ve seen in three months, and accordingly we will now be reopening various recreational activities across the state, including billiard halls, weddings and movie theaters in New York City,” said Cuomo on Monday. “As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy.” The state has released a long list of strict guidelines venues have to adhere to.
The Future of Restaurants
The role of restaurants is simply evolving. Restaurants aren’t just about the food; they are an emotional experience. Customers share their biggest moments and their everyday routines with the restaurants they love. And while the pandemic changed the way that looked, it hasn’t changed how entrenched restaurants are in people’s lives. The role of restaurants is simply evolving. While 92% of restaurateurs say they are anxious about the next six months, the future is full of exciting developments for the industry. Restaurants are entering a new era, investing in changes designed to make them more efficient and able to provide a frictionless customer experience, without being boxed in by a single revenue stream. Here’s how the restaurant industry is evolving to meet customers where they are, embrace technological advances, and build a loyal community.
Already Struggling Restaurants are Facing Refund Requests
From shady customers. One Los Angeles restaurant even cited a string of chargebacks—including a single order worth over $700—as the reason it’s shutting down. In early November, a customer placed one of the biggest online orders that Spoon by H had ever received. When Yoonjin Hwang, the owner of the Los Angeles Korean fusion restaurant, finished calculating the cost of the to-go orders, the four meat lover’s combo meals rang up at $728.76. A couple of days later, the Tock reservation and mobile order platform contacted Hwang to tell her that the customer was disputing the $728 charge, alleging that someone else used his credit card to place the order. She appealed the decision, but ultimately Tock essentially said Spoon by H was on the hook for all $728 bucks.
Restaurants, Bars Win Preliminary Injunction in Curfew Lawsuit
One step closer. Dozens of bars and restaurants suing the state over curfew restrictions have won a legal victory. A judge has issued a preliminary injunction, allowing these locations to operate beyond the 11 p.m. curfew imposed by the state. Curfew limits were enacted by Albany amid the pandemic. State leaders said the limited hours would help prevent the spread of COVID-19, however venue operators argued the restrictions hurt their businesses and that their normal hours did not risk added spread. In early February, nearly 100 restaurants and bars suing the state – most of which in the Buffalo area – were granted a preliminary injunction, allowing them to operate at their regular hours. That order was short-lived, as an appellate court ruled these venues had to resume the 10 p.m. curfew.
How 2 Brooklyn Restaurants are Creatively Adapting During the Pandemic
These two restaurants had to find ways to stay afloat. The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to many businesses — especially in the restaurant industry. With most health experts still advising against indoor dining and restrictions still in place in many areas, it’s been difficult for restaurants to stay afloat, with one-in-five restaurants closing for good in the past year. In Brooklyn, New York, two restaurants are making massive changes in order to keep their doors open. For Olmsted owner Greg Baxtrom, that meant transitioning from a standard restaurant to a setup he describes as “part grocery store, part food bank” while “part of it’s still a restaurant.” To keep afloat amid the pandemic, a second restaurant, Mayfield, created the Tamale Outpost, where it sells handmade tamales out of a storefront window three days a week.
Did You Know?
2021 Social Media content trends all restaurants should know. As a restaurant owner, you might not be able to connect with your customers in person right now, so social media is the next best place where you can establish and maintain relationships with your patrons. Recent studies show a 21 percent uptick in monthly social media usage, demonstrating the time is now to connect and sell to your customers online. But it can be hard to keep up with the latest social media and design trends while staying on top of the day-to-day of running a business. In fact, 90 percent of creators found trends and topics in visual culture are evolving faster than before. Pair that with rapidly multiplying content formats and platforms and it can be hard to know where to focus your marketing efforts. In addition to what is on your menu, here are the top content types that people will be consuming the most this year.
5 unexpected work-from-home jobs you can do right now. The current pandemic has revealed one necessary truth about work: It doesn’t need to be done in an office. In fact, not having to commute and being able to work in your pajamas probably makes you even more productive. But what kind of jobs can one do at home? You may have thought that it was a lot of marketing and writing. Customer service, sure. Maybe IT or engineering. But no — according to FlexJobs, it turns out that there are a variety of specialized remote jobs that (were you qualified) you could be doing right now. Your next job could be on this list.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
A voice for our industry. If you are finding these weekly bulletins informative and beneficial during this pandemic, we kindly ask that you write a brief Google review providing a vote of your appreciation. Simply Google “Bielat Santore & Company” and when the company name appears click the button on the right to write your review or; if you don’t use Gmail, go to Google Maps, type “Bielat Santore & Company” – Allenhurst, NJ into Google Maps; scroll down and you will see an option to leave a review.
Bielat Santore & Company is teaming up with SCORE NJ, the states’ largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors in a series of webinars on small business financing for the hospitality industry. The initial webinar will be presented TOMORROW, MARCH 4TH at 10:00AM. Sign up now!
The Little Black Book on Small Business Financing
Shortly after their March 4th webinar, Bielat Santore & Company will be releasing its newest library resource, “The Little Black Book on Small Business Financing.” This handbook will describe the financing sources available to small businesses, outline the steps necessary in preparing the requisition package required to obtain such financing and provide a glossary of financing terms you may or may not be familiar with. You can find this valuable resource on our company website’s “Resource Library” page below. Keep your eyes open for it’s release!