Danny Meyer: Lawmakers need to pass a stimulus, 'we’re losing restaurants across the country'
Well-known restauranteur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is not leaving behind the state of a restaurant industry that has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As yesterday, the legislature must cut the BS and adopt an economic recovery plan.
"It's not urgent, this isn't a dress rehearsal," Meyer told Yahoo Finance's The First Trade. "We're losing restaurants all over the country - restaurants are nearly insolvent."
What Meyer and others in the industry want to see is the Restaurant Act.
The $ 120 billion aid package is a grant program administered by the Finance Department. Restaurants, bars, cafes, caterers, etc. would be entitled to facilities that could help workers with work and the rent that is paid in the seasonally slower winter months.
Without the program, restaurant workers believe the sector will continue to be plagued by high-profile bankruptcies and unemployment. This week alone, Ruby Tuesday went bankrupt when empty restaurants after reopening weighed on the struggling chain's bottom line. Since the pandemic began, Yahoo Finance has recorded 11 bankruptcies in the restaurant industry.
The Shakeout restaurant from 2020.
"It's absolutely critical [we get suggestions] - people are falling like flies here," Ray Blanchette, CEO of TGI Fridays, told The First Trade. Blanchette says he had to permanently close some restaurants during the pandemic.
Meyer - an industry veteran of over 30 who is known for his optimism and big ideas - also has to endure some tough months.
Meyer had to close all of his restaurants in New York City and Washington DC in the spring due to pandemic lockdowns. His catering and events business has achieved financial success. In mid-March, Meyer was one of the first in this area to lay off workers - around 2,000 total between restaurants and corporate headquarters - with minimal income and occupational safety concerns.
But there is a glimmer of hope for Meyer.
He reopened New York City's iconic Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke restaurants this month for indoor dining (with a capacity of 25% or less). The sites are leaders in health and safety protocols, including new air filtration systems.
Even so, Meyer knows that things are still not going as usual ... far from it.
"Even at 25% occupancy, it's really safe. Restaurants are 75% empty. That means if you're sitting in a dining room in one of our restaurants, you can't even hear the conversation at the next table, even if you've tried It's a bit strange because we're used to the activity and the clinging and rattling of glasses and cutlery in the restaurant, ”said Meyer.
Brian Sozzi is the editor-in-chief and co-host of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
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