Last issue, I wrote about the pandemic, sketching out ideas of a new normal and prognosticating about a future I hoped would be short-lived. (See Sketching Out the new ‘Normal’ for Hospitality.) As time has gone on, so has COVID-19, and each day brings further evidence of the unbridled nature of the virus. Business conditions remain bleak for breweries, bars, restaurants, and retail shops.
Reopenings have yielded limited on-premise opportunities. The public remains wary of the disease and cautious with their finances. Landlords are losing their patience, and changes to government assistance programs threaten to dismantle our industry once and for all. The heat is on, and it outlasted the summer.
My company, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has applied for each and every grant we could find, received PPP loans, negotiated with our landlords, and done just about everything to extend the lives of our businesses and keep as many of our employees at work as possible. We have survived, so far, and—while we know that our company and our furloughed employees will need more assistance—we have found some success during this disaster that keeps me hopeful.