How the restaurant industry is expected to rebuild after 2020, DC experts say


In keeping with an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers and – new this year – a few industry professionals to comment on the food year. Their responses to an annual report “Year in eater” The investigation will be revealed in several articles this week. Next, restaurant experts share how they think the restaurant industry should change and rebuild itself after a devastating 2020.

Simone Jacobson, co-owner of Thamee: At first I was viscerally upset by Tunde Wey’s “Case to let the restaurant industry die,And I called him to tell him about it. It was at the start of our ‘new normal’ and we were all mourning the loss of the places we built and loved with no way of knowing how long this devastation would last, or how many incredible gems would have left across the country. this one. We still don’t quite know how it all turns out, but the more time goes by, the more I think Tunde didn’t get it all wrong. The romantic idealism of a new industry where people get a living wage, access to quality health care, and a path to ownership of some sort, career growth, or both, it’s exciting. and worthy to devote our collective energy to creation. But, will we all be exhausted, jaded and stressed about having to build the airplane while we fly it during this crisis? I think this is the part we still have to figure out. It will take major industry forces to come together, organize and share a vision to make it happen, and we also need to recognize that systemic changes are needed far beyond restaurants. This is the riddle we find ourselves in; how can restaurants attempt to make this massive social reform unless society as a whole is also ready to change?

Paola Velez, executive pastry chef for Maydan, Compass Rose and La Bodega: I think restructuring the way he perceives staff is the first step. When people feel valued, they work more efficiently, positively, and create great things. Be kind. This industry is tough enough.

Tim carman, Washington post gastronomic columnist: So much needs to be rethought and changed: Owners / promoters need to stop thinking of restaurants as cash cows. They need to set reasonable prices so that all parties can be successful. Restaurant owners, in turn, need to rethink tips and their impact on servers, create income disparities between their own employees, and promote bad behavior in the dining room. Diners need to stop pretending food is cheap and be prepared to pay top dollar for what it costs to serve a high quality restaurant meal.

Anela malik, Feed the Malik blogger : Reconstruction should seek to move away from the traditions of underpaid work, harassment and exploitation that have long supported the industry. I hope 2020 has demonstrated that new standards and benchmarks are needed to create fair and safe workplaces.

Lenore Adkins, freelance food writer: I, for one, don’t mind paying more for meals if it means catering workers can get health insurance, paid time off, and a raise. They have also been on the front lines of the pandemic and deserve some respect. Mechanisms should also be in place to report and address all forms of employee abuse.

Jessica sidman, Washingtonian food editor: I hope the public will gain a continuing appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes in restaurants. The pandemic has drawn more general public attention to the number of workers who live on paychecks and do not have health insurance. When things get “normal” again, I hope diners still appreciate the costs associated with a living wage and local sourcing, continue to tip well, and just be kind in general.

Raman santra, Forbidden in DC blogger : I think he should continue to be extremely candid with clients about how (owners and staff) that, for the most part, it is their livelihood and profession that provide excellent service and a key feature. to cities but operate at lower margins. I think people may think it’s dishonest to talk about money, but customers feel invested in these places and want to know how they can support them.

Tom sietsema, Washington post food critic: I’m already seeing some promising changes, not only in the restaurant world, where immigrant chefs and BIPOC and others are receiving well-deserved attention, but in the food media, which is adding important new voices and different perspectives to the world. conversation.

Takera gholson, Flights and food blogger : It would be great if more restaurants could offer delivery, and those that currently offer delivery had the option to expand the radius.

Gabe Hiatt, editor-in-chief of Eater DC: I would like to see catering workers earn a living wage. Adding automatic tips seems like the best way to fix it right now as lawmakers and the business community grapple with how to change – or go beyond – a tilting system rooted in racism, sexism and classism. The dining public is going to have to accept that they have been underpay for years. Eradicating harassment and racial inequalities in the hospitality industry will need to come from a comprehensive cultural shift in the United States, but restaurants that put in place training systems and reporting protocols are at least proactive. Homeowners and developers who expect to maintain the rent level they are accustomed to will also have to pull their heads out of the sand.

More of the year in Eater

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