KC restaurant industry optimistic for 2022


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For nearly two years, the restaurant industry has been challenged by the pandemic.

Last month, several Kansas City restaurants were forced to close. Despite these setbacks, industry leaders are optimistic for 2022.

“The most difficult was at the end of 2020 beginning of 2021, that’s when most restaurants closed, there were several restrictions, if you remember, for a while we couldn’t open,” said Bill Teel, executive director of the Greater Kansas Restaurant Association.

Teel said during the 2021 holiday season, some restaurants were operating with wait times — a stark contrast from previous years.

“We are optimistic for 2022,” Teel said. “It’s been a tough few years for us, but we’re optimistic the worst is behind us and we’ve opened a number of restaurants in 2022. We think it will be a good year.”

Several restaurants also plan to open in 2022, including Lula’s Southern Cookhouse on Main Street.

Owner Bradley Gilmore said the restaurant opened the week before Thanksgiving and is currently operating on a month-to-month lease, hoping to sign a permanent lease.

“People aren’t going to stop eating, COVID doesn’t seem to be going away, and we need to find new ways to navigate the waters,” Gilmore said.

Due to labor shortages, Lula’s operates limited hours Wednesday through Sunday evenings. They have also had to modify their menu due to product shortages and buy from more local suppliers to avoid problems.

“If we had the staff, we would be open every day of the week,” Gilmore said.

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association released the following statement on the number of restaurants forced to close due to the pandemic.

“While the National Restaurant Association estimates that 17% of restaurants nationwide closed at the height of the pandemic, restaurants in Kansas City fared better. However, if 10% of our restaurants closed, that would mean that we would still lose around 300 restaurants. »

Bill Teil

Several restaurants are also looking forward to Restaurant Week and many will be extending their opening hours, including Lula’s.

“January and February are tough months for restaurants,” Gilmore said. “Restaurant Week gives us the boost we need.”

KC Restaurant Week kicks off on January 14.

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