BUFFALO, NY — According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely changed the industry for good and operators are now facing a new normal.
New York State Restaurant Association President Melissa Fleischut believes the new normal is tied to changes operators have made to hours of operation and how they use staff and technology to move forward .
“I think it’s a lot of the changes that they’re talking about that are going to take a long time, if not forever, to roll back. We can’t roll back and some operators may not want to roll back,” said she declared. noted.
Although homeowners face fewer restrictions than they were at the height of the pandemic, Fleischut said 86% of New York respondents still say they’re in worse shape than before. three months. She thinks this is partly due to the continued rise in costs of crucial items like drinks, due to a shortage of glass bottles, and meat.
“In some cases they are worse now,” Fleischut said. “I think the supply chain has really made it difficult. The things and items that they wanted to buy that they never thought would go so high or become so rare are really starting to surprise them. .”
According to the survey, across the country, about 95,000 restaurants have closed. In New York, Fleischut said it was difficult to get a precise number.
“Places we would normally turn to like the Department of Health for health permits or the Bureau of Labor Statistics haven’t really seemed to lock in those numbers because they’re not sure yet when they check whether certain places are temporarily or permanently closed, and until they are permanently closed, they don’t want to not count them,” she said.
What the association learned from the survey is that 86% of operators in the state say they are less profitable than at the start of the pandemic, 55% have reduced operating hours and 40 % closed on days they were previously open. Fleischut said one of the industry’s top priorities is getting more money for the restaurant revitalization fund.
In New York, only about 35% of applicants have received the grant, and nearly 18,000 restaurants are still waiting.
“We are asking Congress to invest additional funds because all of these people applied through the SBA portal and what we need now is sufficient funding because SBA knows exactly how much funding was needed to cover these other additional candidates,” Fleischut said.
She said that at the state level, their association is strongly in favor of the governor’s takeout proposal.