In the space of a month, the
“We were running at the top of our game as a business and it’s just devastating to have to turn off the engine,” Amy said.
The rapidly escalating
The food service industry is the nation’s second-largest private employer, with 15.6 million employees, according to the National Restaurant Association, which counts 1 million restaurants, including fast food outlets, in the United States.
Of these, 90% are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees,
Restaurants are notoriously high-risk businesses, typically running on pretax margins of 3 to 6%, which makes them extremely vulnerable in a downturn.
The trade group estimates U.S.
Approximately 6.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, a
On the U.S. East Coast, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut struck a regional agreement on Monday to close all movie theaters, casinos and gyms. New York City may soon also issue a “shelter in place” order. Restaurants and bars in the three states - where about 32 million people live - will serve takeout and delivery only.
For the Hillyards, switching to takeout or delivery was not a viable option, given the cafe is surrounded by now-empty office buildings. By Monday, sales were down 70% from normal, as local businesses sent workers home even before the lockdown started.
Their immediate concern is how to pay their bills. The next payment for the staff’s health insurance plan is due on March 25. Rent, their other big monthly cost, is due on April 1 - but so is a loan payment to Bank of America (BAC.N), and they cannot make both.
Graphic: Restaurants starved of business - here
OUT ON A LIMBIn Washington state, another virus hotspot, restaurants
The city government has said it will spend $1.5 million on grants for small businesses affected by the
“It is for people who don’t have more than five employees. Our restaurant couldn’t get it,” Spaulding said. She also remains confused about what she qualifies for or how to get it. “We have heard about many, many loans
DELIVERY IS NOT ENOUGHRestaurant visits as measured by OpenTable were down 77% year-on-year on March 16 in Washington, D.C., after the city told restaurants and bars to stop serving customers on the premises, to reduce the public’s potential exposure to the virus.
There as elsewhere the hope is that the rise of online food ordering over recent years will soften the blow.
Meals ordered digitally for delivery were up 16% in 2019 from the year before, while digital orders for takeout increased 33%, data analytics firm NPD Group said.
But delivery is a tiny slice of restaurant sales in normal times, at roughly 3% of orders.
She has been forced to let go of almost all her 50-odd
Lacoste said she cannot offer more choices without knowing how popular they will be, because she cannot yet afford to buy more product or rehire staff. The uncertainty of whether the restaurant will be closed to in-house dining for two weeks or two months
“We are figuring out daily costs to keep the lights on,” she said. “Selling
“We need a bailout,” Amy said, sitting with Chris in the sunny window of the empty cafe. “Why should