Resy Notes and Advisory RE: COVID-19 (March 27)

The Resy Team
Posted by  The Resy Team  on Mar 27, 2020 3:23:31 PM

Key Points 

  • The federal aid package is here. On Friday, Congress passed the record $2 trillion emergency stimulus bill, meant to rush aid to businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill now heads to the President for a signature and final approval.

  • What does this mean for independent restaurants? There’s a lot to unpack in the 600-page bill, and more analysis and exposition will be forthcoming, but some key points:

    • For employees, the bill will provide both paid sick leave and a one-time stimulus check. As Eater’s Ryan Sutton notes, this should allow workers to earn full salary while collecting unemployment benefits. (There may be some catches, though. For example, staffers that make more than $99K are not eligible for checks, and it’s unclear what the bill could mean for non-citizens.)

    • For business owners, forgivable loans will be provided to cover operating expenses such as payroll, rent, and/or utilities. The bill also provides emergency grants up to $10K, incentives to rehire laid-off workers, and tax credits, among other provisions.

    • For more in-depth details, we recommend the summary put forth by the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

  • For restaurants staying open, the safety question is getting bigger. This week, Andy Ricker shuttered his Pok Pok empire, citing health concerns for his staff, despite his desire: “We are all vulnerable … There is no way to 100% safely deploy a crew of workers to operate a restaurant kitchen for delivery and to go as we have been doing for the last week.” As the pandemic worsens, more operators are faced with this same dilemma.

  • Thousands of restaurants have started crowdfunding efforts — namely GoFundMe campaigns — to help support staff. For many, it’s another revenue stream, and for some, it’s proving quickly beneficial: Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco already managed to raise enough money to pay staff through April. 

    • Resy has added new functionality that allows restaurateurs to centralize all revenue-driving links in their Resy venue page, like GoFundMe, Online Shop, Gift Cards, Seamless, GrubHub, Caviar and the like.

  • The restaurant industry lost a leader. Floyd Cardoz, one of America’s leading chefs, has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 59. Cardoz owned several restaurants in Mumbai, but was best known in New York as the pioneer behind Tabla in New York City, which closed in 2010. He died in New York City.  

    • Asha Gomez: “I remember walking into (Tabla) and feeling this sense of pride that I had never felt as an Indian … To see what he had done to elevate Indian cuisine to the likes of French cuisine — because it deserves to be in that same light — was at the time mind-blowing to me.”

    • Meherwan Irani: ”Up until that moment I never imagined that the seemingly rarefied culinary world—with its celebrity chefs, glossy magazines, TV shows, and black-tie award ceremonies—would ever take an Indian chef seriously. The ones held up as the greats were almost always white and male. But here was a chef who just upended my own biases. Floyd was classically trained, worked at some of the most revered temples of New York gastronomy like Lespinasse, and gained acclaim and respect not just as an Indian chef but a real-deal chef on par with anyone else in the field.”

    • Padma Lakshmi: “Nobody who lived in NY in the early aughts could forget how delicious and packed Tabla always was. He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch.”

Voices and Recommended Reading

Andrew Carmellini, Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer, Missy Robbins, Marcus Samuelsson and Adam Saper in the New York Times: “As restaurants go, so go our communities. If all of these people suddenly don’t have money to spend on our main streets, everyone will feel it. We take our responsibility to keep people working very seriously. But now we need help.”

JJ Johnson in Thrillist on running a makeshift delivery restaurant: “We’ve been calling it back to the basics — you know, head down, focusing on making sure the doors can open up hour to hour, making sure that we can function, figuring out how to retain as much staff. There are two big needs right now. The staff need their jobs — they’re paying rent or paying for college with the check that they’re getting from Fieldtrip. The second need is feeding a community of people who share rooms or don’t have big fridges.”

Naomi Pomeroy in the Washington Post: “This isn’t the first time I’ve been forced to lay off employees. But this is the first time I’ve made that difficult decision with total uncertainty about the future. When I closed a restaurant in 2005, I knew my employees would find other work and that my suppliers would be there when I was able to start a new venture … Today, I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to start over again. It doesn’t matter if a restaurant has been open 22 years or 22 days: The revenue local restaurants earn this week pays the bills from the week before. We have to pay rent and repay existing loans. Even if we can reopen weeks or months from now, business is likely to be slow.”

Amanda Cohen in the New York Times: “After this shutdown, we’ll have to rebuild the city’s restaurant business from scratch. A few restaurants with deep pockets can probably return to business as usual, but the bulk of places in this city would reopen with enormous debt. We’ll be welcoming back workers whose bank accounts have been drained, who will bear significant health care costs, who will more clearly feel the need for child care and sick days. This shutdown has shown us that the only moral choice is for the industry to provide a better safety net for our workers. But right now I can’t see that happening because I don’t think customers, many of them also feeling more financially precarious, would be willing to pay the cost.”

Topics: COVID-19

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