Fears For Restaurants, Permanent Closures Could Happen

Posted at 11:29 PM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 23:29:38-05

LANSING, Mich. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the restaurant industry is one of the first starting to deal with a second round of closures. Alicia Nieves shows us the impact we are already seeing and how job losses are almost a certanty.

In 2016, the restaurant “Eden” in Chicago opened. Owner Jodi Fyfe says at the start of this year “we went from having the absolute best first quarter that we ever had a week into March…” to, a week later closing down with many other restaurants in the city and country. “At that time we had 526 employees, if you look at it today we have 24.”

Although Eden opened up again over the summer, by the end of the season, concern over a second round of closures in the winter forced her to make a tough decision. “Essentially we had to close the restaurant and that was like a death. It was like the death of a family member.”

Fyfe has focused keeping her other business, catering, afloat while now seeing the reality she feared. Her state is one of a half dozen starting to shutting down indoor dining this month. Already as many as 7500 restaurants, just in Illinois, say they may have to close permanently as a result.

“It is becoming devastating.” Sam Toia is with the Illinois Restaurant Association and says it’s about jobs for workers too. “If things don’t change with no indoor dining or no stimulus bill 66% of the restaurants feel they could be out of business within the next four months.”

This week, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Governors and Mayors across the country noting it has “not found any systemic outbreaks of COVID-19 from the hundreds of thousands of restaurants around the country that operate within the association’s guidance.” It’s urging officials to reconsider current bans and future ones, based on the data.

Sean Kennedy is with the National Restaurant Association. “We are such a vital part of serving an underserved community, finding them jobs, finding them a livelihood, when we shut down a lot of folks do not have the transferable skills that they can apply elsewhere. The restaurant industry really needs to stay strong so we can take care of these people.”

Roughly 2 million restaurant workers are currently out of work and further closures mean even more will be unemployed and with no new stimulus bill. these workers, along with restaurant owners, stand to lose the livelihoods.

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