Resy Notes and Advisory RE: COVID-19 (March 21)

The Resy Team
Posted by  The Resy Team  on Mar 21, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Key Points 

  • This is a 100-year storm for the restaurant industry. Tuesday was the first day of shutdown for dine-in restaurant service in most major U.S. cities, with California and New York issuing stricter measures with “shelter-in-place” directives by the end of the week. (Groceries and takeout/delivery restaurants remain open.) This all means that restaurants have been forced to shut down entirely, or shift to a takeout/delivery model.

    • Impacts to the workforce. Regardless of which tack has been chosen, myriad restaurants, big and small, have been forced to lay off staff. On Wednesday, Danny Meyer announced that Union Square Hospitality laid off 80% of its workforce, about 2,000 workers. Thomas Keller said he furloughed 1,200. Tom Colicchio laid off 300. The National Restaurant Association estimates that 5 to 7 million jobs will be lost.

  • Is takeout working for restaurants? Yes and no. We’re in the early days of the forced experiment, but many restaurateurs are saying that while they don’t believe it’s a sustainable model, they’re hoping it’s a short-term way to keep the lights on. 

  • The conversation surrounding restaurants’ survival has extended from minor revenue streams (i.e. takeout) to legislative action. As the new, albeit temporary, reality sets in, the country’s leading chefs and restaurateurs are advocating for aid.

    • New York state has waived late fees for sales tax payments. The state also issued a 90-day moratorium on evictions for commercial tenants; some cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have made similar moratoriums.

    • A group called the Independent Restaurant Coalition has been formed and is lobbying on behalf of independent operators on the Hill to ensure they are represented in the Cares Act. Many, many industry leaders are behind this effort.

    • The UK will help shuttered businesses. UK restaurants, pubs, and gyms closed Friday night, but the government has said it will pay 80% of wages of those not working.

    • Earlier this week, the White House had a call with “representatives from the restaurant industry.” Per reports, participants were Domino's Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Restaurant Brand International, International Franchise Association, Bloomin' Brands, McDonald's USA, YUM! Brands, Raising Cane's, Darden, Papa John’s, Wendy's, and the National Retail Federation. No independents were involved.

    • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for capital to small businesses and private non-profits. More info here.

    • The SLA is allowing liquor sales for delivery and takeout, but only with food. Other markets, including DC and Chicago, have made similar moves.

  • Given the severe impact on restaurants, many restaurant tech companies are taking action to help restaurants, namely waiving fees.

    • This includes Resy. Effective as of March 9, 2020, we are providing 100% relief on all Resy fees and billing for at least 30 days. We will continue to be focused on addressing the needs of our partners and will update that policy as needed.

    • Toast launched free online ordering for all restaurants, including non-Toast customers.  Doordash and Caviar are allowing restaurants to sign up for delivery with no commission fees for 30 days through April. Grubhub/Seamless is deferring fees.

  • Accurate information is more important than ever. The news cycle is moving quickly, and because each market has different regulations and aid options, staying up to date is crucial.

  • Messaging to the public, whether you’re staying open or have started crowdsourcing campaigns, is also essential. Resy has compiled city-by-city guides to partner restaurants that are currently open, as well as recommendations on how the public can help support.

  • So, how long will we be here? We (still) don’t know, but the industry veterans we have spoken to continue to believe we are looking at a minimum of a four-week trough, with more and more expecting it to last two months or more.

  • Despite the devastation, some chefs are holding onto hope. Chef Daniel Patterson wrote about the brutal nature of the situation, but also reason for hope: “This crisis is so vast and all-encompassing that it will give us all a fresh start, a chance to rethink everything … Our industry is full of smart, creative folks who spend their lives creating joy and happiness in the unlikeliest places and times. Restaurant people are resilient, hard-working, optimistic by nature. We are generous to a fault and quick to offer what we have to others. We will solve this with the same kindness, compassion and love that we bring to our restaurants every day. We will find a way forward, even though right now it seems impossible.”
Topics: COVID-19

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