Ross: The Pandemic Impact On Local Restaurants

FCADC

While all industry sectors were severely impacted by the Covid pandemic, none, with the exception of health care, was impacted greater than the hospitality sector…particularly restaurants.  In response, Covid relief funding was provided via the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) and American Rescue Plan (ARP) Acts.  Locally, the $5.7 million of CARES funding was made available to small businesses through the Small Business Recovery Program; while $1.7 million of ARP funds were made available specifically to the hospitality sector through the Covid Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). 

It’s been a year since the CHIRP funds were distributed and while helpful, the restaurant recoveries continue to be challenging.  To illustrate my point, I am including an email that I received this week from a successful Franklin County restauranteur.                                                                                                                                                            

As you will see, owning and operating a restaurant (or any small business) is not for the faint of heart.  It requires commitment, passion, and perseverance.  If you think you have those three qualities and want to start your own business, please call the FCADC office and we will make every effort to provide you with the resources necessary to succeed.       

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Letter from a Restauranteur

“We have struggled like all restaurants in the same manner dealing with rising cost of food, labor cost increased, supply shortages, and so much more have been a daily issue within this industry.  I believe because of our determination and strong-willed emotions to never quit have been a main reason to stay open this long during these trying times. 

I am blessed to have a strong long termed GM and some core people within the business that have helped a tremendous amount and are so important to our survival.  It’s hard to keep this pressure on this industry and fight every day to have enough employees and to provide the great service we strive to provide our guests.  I have always been actively spending a ton of money on retaining them or trying to get more people through websites like Indeed and not overwork and stress out my dedicated long-standing employees.

In these times it has made us be more creative and forced us to do things that we never would have possibly thought about pre-pandemic.   Yes, sales are climbing back slowly but are not anywhere to pre-pandemic levels. 

We have raised prices to meet these additional costs and it seems there’s no end in sight with fuel prices constantly increasing and the fuel charges we are seeing included into the products we purchase from suppliers.  Is there help out there for those that remain?   is there a future?   

I try to always remain optimistic as we feel a burden to keep the doors open and provide jobs for those that work for us.  I don’t quit and always just hang in there when times get tough.  As I get older it’s harder to do this and I yearn to retire from this business sooner than later. 

It certainly is my hope and dream to leave it alive and well long after I get out but are there people willing to do this and have the responsibility?   I don’t know…  Our government seems dedicated to push us out of business and close our doors and I have everything invested into this business now for 13 years and don’t want to lose what we have done as this is my retirement and has been my life 7 days a week 24/7.   

I have always been willing and able to work for anything I get and I understand risk and reward. I also remember it has taken help from others that have believed in us and gave us the support, without that we couldn’t have done it.”

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