More than 100,000 restaurants have closed since the start of the pandemic and as many as 40% of restaurant owners don’t think their restaurant will make it through the winter if things continue the way they are going according to the National Restaurant Association.
The pandemic isn’t just affecting independent restaurants either. Chain restaurants are just as much at risk as the smaller establishments.
Costs aren’t any Lower
A big part of the problem is not only that sales are down, but costs are just as high as they were before. In fact, some restaurants state their labor costs exceed their pre-pandemic level because of the stricter measures put in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
Relief isn’t Coming
Another big part of the problem is the lack of relief. While the restaurant industry is grateful for the relief they received, it’s not enough to keep them going. They’ve waited as long as they could and now with the winter months upon us and outdoor dining nearly impossible in many areas of the country, more restaurants will hurt in a big way.
More Workers will be Furloughed or Laid Off
The restaurant industry fully expects to have to lay off or furlough even more workers during the winter months. With most restaurants restricted to curbside pickup and delivery, there is a much lower need for employees in the restaurant. Beyond a few kitchen staff and one or two front-of-the-house employees, restaurants can’t afford to keep others on staff for much longer if they want to try to stay in business.
Most restaurants are running at less than 80% of their normal staffing levels and many other restaurants had to pull back even further.
A Bleak Outlook
Restaurants have a bleak outlook for the winter and even the spring months. Even the restaurants that are making it right now have a meager outlook for the future. Only 6% of restaurant owners think things will get better for them by March.
What can Restaurants Do?
Right now without more relief, there isn’t much restaurant owners can do but try their best. They can offer new services, foods, and market their curbside and delivery services, but beyond that, their hands are tied.
They have little money to do much else and have to preserve what they have so they can keep their doors open and potentially keep some staff working.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the entire country. No restaurants in any state are doing well right now. Everyone is just getting by, but with the winter coming, everyone can’t help but worry about what comes next.
Who will be the next restaurant to close? Will the government pull through in time to save more restaurants during their time of need? Only time, patience, and a lot of thinking outside of the box will tell what the future holds for our restaurant industry.