Restaurants have particularly struggled during the pandemic, with no sure sign of another financial relief package on the horizon. With Michigan now under a three-week pause in an effort to mitigate growing COVID numbers, local restaurants are taking another hit.
On tonight's 7 UpFront, we speak with Rosalie Vicari, co-owner of the Joe Vicari Restaurant Group.
The interview comes a day before a ruling is expected on whether a preliminary injunction will be issued to allow bars and restaurants to reopen before the end of the three-week pause, which is set to expire Dec. 8.
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Vicari, who owns more than 20 restaurants across the state with her husband Joe, talked about an upcoming meeting scheduled for Thursday with local restaurant owners and attorneys to discuss possible options if the state extends the lockdown order, which impacts indoor dining.
“Our meeting on Thursday is not to rally the troops and tell them to defy the governor’s orders," Vicari said during her 7 UpFront interview. "That is not the point of the meeting. The meeting is to come together... let’s meet together as a group and just listen to all the facts, listen to what our options are."
The restaurateur who has been in the business for over 30 years says some of her nearly 1,000 employees have already requested additional financial assistance to get through the holidays because of the current lockdown.
She says she's also concerned for smaller restaurants that are struggling to make ends meet.
“People that have one restaurant feel like they don’t have a voice," Vicari said. "And having this meeting, I think, gives them some sense of comfort that possibly somebody will be listening to them.”
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Vicari said she and her husband have invited Gov. Whtimer, or even a representative from the governor's office, to attend Thursday's meeting to listen to the grievances of local restaurant owners as they discuss what an extended lockdown would mean for them.
Vicari added that safety amid the pandemic is still a priority for restaurant owners like herself.
“We would never ever jeopardize the health of our customers, or the health of the people that work with us in the restaurant business," she said.
But she adds that something needs to be done to help struggling businesses during this time.
“We have to do something because people will not survive, the restaurant industry will not survive another long-term closure,” she said.