This is the darkest hour … and yet. Before we get to the storm, some flashes of sunshine. Whether it’s the leadership of chefs like JJ Johnson or Chris Cosentino feeding hospital workers, the selflessness of a Seattle sandwich shop owner delivering food to his community, or the ingenuity of restaurants shifting into grocery stores (and liquor stores!), the industry is showing why it’s special.
Sidenote: If you are know someone doing something extraordinary during this crisis, please do let us know.
How does the industry come back? Those that survive this pandemic have a steep hill to climb to reopen. Chef Hugh Acheson told Resy that even with the stimulus package, he believes the costs to revive a shuttered restaurant will likely be considerable. For example, he said that a smaller restaurant bringing in about $2 million a year with $50,000 in monthly payroll costs could get a loan for $125,000 with a 4.5% APR with the first payment not due for six months. But, Acheson said, “that can get them back up and running, but I don’t know if they will forgive that loan.”
Speaking of which: PPP applications are here, sort of. Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP) were slated to roll out today (Friday). However, reports indicated that banks were not ready because they hadn’t been provided “the necessary guidelines” and needed more information on the loans. As of this morning, Forbes said that Bank of America became the first bank major bank to open its online portal, but they are only allowing applications from pre-existing business customers.
Meanwhile, delivery apps are booming, and also still charging. As demand for delivery has skyrocketed, restaurateurs are still faced with the double-edged sword of third-party delivery apps that cut into any remaining profits. Amid pleas for delivery services to waive fees, Wired has a nice rundown of the numbers involved around UberEats: David Foulquier of Fooq’s in downtown Miami said that his business is down almost 90 percent, and of the remaining slice, delivery apps take up 25 percent.
- Jubilee is still on. If you’re in need of some inspiration, many of the industry’s brightest female leaders will be (virtually) coming together on Sunday, April 5 for Cherry Bombe’s Jubilee 2.0. It’s open to the masses. Details and lineup here.
Voices and Recommended Reading
- “Dignity is something that I fear is going to get lost in this scurry to get people food … We wanted to make sure that when we were making food, it was beautiful.”— ReThink founder Matt Jozwiak in The New York Times. ReThink, a nonprofit organization that uses excess food from grocery stores and restaurants to make free or low-cost meals, has commandeered Eleven Madison Park and turned it into a soup kitchen.
- ”The most powerful thing we’ve realized is everyone is in this to help. Clinicians, chefs, donors and now our organizers. During this time of profound uncertainty, we have been heartened by the community’s need to come together and rise to the immense challenge in front of us all.”— Ryan Sarver, founder of San Francisco-based Frontline Foods, which is newly partnered with World Central Kitchen. Frontline translates donations into restaurant revenue and food for hospital workers.
- ”Until clear guidelines exist for how a business like ours can safely operate without jeopardizing the health of its staff or its customers, we do not feel it is safe or wise to open in any form. Even if/when we reopen as a market/to-go business, the work that we will be able to provide for our team of nearly 50 employees will be a minute fraction of what they have come to rely on. And as of now, no governmental plan exists for providing financial relief to the millions of hospitality workers who have lost their jobs in the last week (or the businesses who have had to shut their doors).”— LA’s Botanica is the latest restaurantto shut down delivery/takeout service due to safety concerns.
- ”Restaurants provide an escape, a place of welcoming and relaxation, a moment to just sit, eat and enjoy the company of those we love. I can’t imagine my life or life in this country without our amazing community of independent restaurants.” — Suzanne Goin