Covid-19

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Ontario F&B Workers Petition for Phase 2

Ontario F&B Workers Petition for Phase 2

by David Klemt

Covid-19 vaccine ampoules

A petition on Change.org seeks to include F&B workers in Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Ontario, Canada.

The petition, which can be found here, is directed toward Ontario, Canada, Premier Doug Ford.

Currently, Ontario is in the midst of Phase 1 of Covid-19 vaccination.

Phase 1

Per the official Ontario Government website, Phase 1 aims to vaccinate around 1.8 million people.

The phase breakdown is as follows:

  • One: High-risk populations (December through March)
  • Two: Mass deliveries of vaccinations (April through July)
  • Three: Steady state (July onward)

Those eligible for Phase 1 inoculations are:

  • Health care workers
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations
  • Adult chronic home care recipients
  • Congregate living for seniors
  • Adults over 80 years old

According to the Covid-19 Tracker Canada website, 1,116,496 vaccine doses have been administered throughout Ontario. In total, slightly more than six percent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose.

Phase 2

The second phase seeks to vaccinate approximately nine million people.

Eligible people are:

  • at-risk populations;
  • individuals with high-risk chronic conditions, and their caregivers;
  • high-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living, etc.);
  • adults aged 60 to 79, in 5-year increments; and
  • essential frontline workers who cannot work from home.

The requirement in bold should get the attention of all restaurant, bar and foodservice workers. Ontario identifies several “essential frontline workers” eligible for Phase 2. Among them are elementary and secondary school staff, police, firefighters, special constables, and social counselors.

However, high- and low-risk retail workers are on the list while restaurant and foodservice workers are not.

The Petition

Cassie MacKell is the person behind the petition to “Include Restaurant & Food Service Workers on Ontario’s Phase 2 Vaccination List.”

MacKell’s opening statement says, “I write this letter as a cry for help from the entire Food & Beverage industry of Ontario in regard to Ontario’s phase vaccine distribution plan.”

The petition’s creator goes on to say:

“As one of the hardest hit industries from Covid-19 why am I not seeing restaurants workers on this list? From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic restaurants across Ontario have been heavily regulated and shut down by Premier Ford. Even after adhering to stringent restrictions and safety guidelines set forth by our government the framework continues to keep us closed, or only allows for limited seating capacity making it impossible for many businesses to survive.”

In closing, MacKell lays bare the situation for Ontario (and indeed all of Canada) foodservice professionals. Workers in this industry are exposed to people not wearing masks while they eat or drink; are unable to remain six feet from guests; and certainly can’t work from home.

Put bluntly, all those who work in foodservice are high-risk frontline professionals. If you agree and live in Ontario, Canada, please sign this petition.

Image: Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Los Angeles Restaurants Face New Outdoor Dining Restrictions

After Weeks of Prohibition, This is What Los Angeles Restaurants are Facing

by David Klemt

Limited to delivery and takeout for several weeks, Los Angeles restaurants and breweries may now offer outdoor dining.

Of course, that easing of restrictions comes with a raft of new limitations.

The outdoor dining ban was lifted last Friday, January 29. Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded California’s statewide stay-at-home order four days prior, January 25.

Operators, still caught firmly in the vortex of opens, closures and ever-shifting restrictions, will have to weigh the potential to generate in-person dining revenue against limitations and costs.

Outdoor dining capacity of restaurants, breweries and wineries (able to open for outdoor tastings) is restricted to 50 percent. Even an operator with a significant outdoor footprint may find the revenue generated from in-person dining incapable of offsetting associated costs.

Speaking of footprint, operators must also contend with new distance requirements. Outdoor tables must now be spaced a minimum of eight feet apart to ensure guests aren’t seated back to back. This increase from six feet must be measured from the edges of each table.

Any employee who “may come in contact” with a guest is required to wear a face mask and a face shield for the duration of such an interaction, which can’t include tableside preparations.

No live entertainment is permitted, and televisions must remain turned off. Couple the television ban with a prohibition on “coordinated, organized or invited events or gatherings” and Super Bowl parties are clearly not permitted.

Additional limitations pertain to guests and group size. No more than six people may be seated at a table, and each guest must be a member of the same household. Signage informing guests of the household requirement must be posted, and guests must also be given this information verbally.

A “household” in Los Angeles County is defined as “persons living together as a single living unit.” Click here for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health’s “Protocol for Restaurants, Breweries and Wineries: Appendix I.”

According to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County health director, operators can expect increased scrutiny and enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.

Evidence of enhanced enforcement efforts was seen last week. LA County filed two suits on January 27 against Cronies Sports Grill in Agoura Hills and Tinhorn Flats in Burbank for failing to adhere to health directives. Both suits label the establishments as “public nuisances.”

Some Los Angeles operators may find limited outdoor dining better than no in-person dining at all. However, others may conclude that labor and PPE costs alone aren’t worth restricted reopening, to say nothing of contending with increased governmental scrutiny.

Image: David Mark from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Current Restaurant and Bar Restrictions: Las Vegas, Nashville, Philadelphia, Orlando

Current Restaurant and Bar Restrictions: Las Vegas, Nashville, Philadelphia, Orlando

by David Klemt

KRG Hospitality has turned hospitality industry visions into reality throughout the United States for several years.

Currently, we operate in Las Vegas, Nashville, Philadelphia and Orlando, along with the surrounding areas. Of course, we’re available to take projects from the idea phase to opening doors and beyond in other markets.

We’ve reviewed and gathered the current Covid-19-based restrictions for each of the four main US markets in which KRG operates to help current operators and those considering taking the next steps in their journey toward opening their own businesses.

To book a 15-minute introductory call to discuss your project and how we can help you realize your vision, click here.

Las Vegas

Set to expire on January 15, Nevada’s statewide “pause,” first implemented on November 24, was extended January 11 for a further 30 days. Guidance can be found here.

Requirements

  • Restaurants and bars must reduce capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent for both indoor and outdoor dining.
  • Bar seating must be social distanced.
  • Walk-ins are prohibited. Guests must make reservations.
  • Masks must be worn when a guest isn’t eating or drinking.
  • No more than four people may share the same table.
  • Nightclubs and dayclubs aren’t permitted to open.

Recommendations

  • Curbside, delivery, and/or takeout are encouraged.
  • Restaurants and bars should continue to make hand sanitizer available and conduct health screenings and/or temperature checks.
  • Limit personal gatherings to ten people from a maximum of two families.
  • Wear masks at indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Nashville

Among Nashville’s restaurant and bar guidance is the “No Seat, No Service” mantra. Additional requirements and recommendations are below, and detailed information can be found here.

Requirements

  • All residents and all visitors must wear face coverings when in public.
  • Restaurants and bars limited to 5o-percent capacity, with social distancing.
  • Tables must be socially distanced. Limited to eight people per table.
  • Surfaces must be cleaned after they’ve been used by patrons.
  • Standing at the bar is prohibited–bars are seated-service only.
  • Remember “No Shirt, No Service”? The new rule is “No Seat, No Service.”
  • Customers must wear a mask when standing up and walking through the restaurant or bar.
  • Entertainment is permitted but barriers must be in place between performers and customers. However, dance floors are prohibited.
  • Bar games and activities like darts, arcade games, etc., must be sanitized in between uses.
  • Last call for service is 10:00 PM, which is also the cutoff for entry.
  • No self-service food or condiments are permitted.

Recommendations

  • Governor Bill Lee urges Tennesseans to wear a mask, gather only with immediate household members.
  • Display this sign to show commitment to mandated and recommended health and safety rules and practices.
  • Use contactless, virtual or disposable menus.

Philadelphia

The current restrictions went into effect November 20. Click here for the full list of requirements and recommendations. You’ll find the city’s complete hotel guidance here.

Requirements

  • Required protections: Masks, Barriers, Staff education, Employee symptom screening and isolation of infected employees, Ensure employees can remain six feet away from one another; Handwashing on employee arrival and in accordance to established food safety precautions, Follow Department of Public Health Food Safety regulations.
  • 25-percent capacity of stated fire code occupancy.
  • Guests may not stand in the restaurant or sit at the bar.
  • Alcohol may only be served on-premises if it’s part of the same transaction as a meal.
  • Table capacity of four people of the same household or less.
  • Outdoor dining capacity limited to fewer than 50 people.
  • Operators must plan for inclement weather in regards to outdoor dining.
  • No entertainment permitted.
  • Indoor catered events prohibited.
  • Last call for orders must take place at 11:00. Business must be closed for service by midnight.

Recommendations

  • Servers should wear face shields and/or goggles along with a mask.
  • Temperature checks for employees and customers aren’t required but no-touch thermometer should be used by establishments that choose to conduct them. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher should be turned away.
  • Consider using physical barriers in between tables.
  • Use contactless payment methods.
  • Promote online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup options.

Hotel Requirements

  • Required protections: Provide masks to employees, Staff education, Employee symptom screening and isolation of infected employees, Ensure employees can remain six feet away from one another; Provide employees hourly handwashing breaks.
  • Separate staff from customers at ticket and information desks with plastic barriers.
  • Utilize contactless room service delivery.
  • Outdoor events and gatherings are prohibited from exceeding 10 percent of maximum occupancy (maximum of 2,000 persons), even with masks and social distancing. If no maximum occupancy is known, occupancy may not exceed more than 10 persons per 1,000 square feet.
  • Remove self-serve F&B stations from public areas.
  • Remove magazines, menus, and other reusable items that can’t be cleaned from guest rooms.
  • Indoor gatherings and events are prohibited.

Hotel Recommendations

  • Use contactless payment methods.
  • Increase building ventilation.

Orlando

Unlike Las Vegas, Nashville and Philadelphia, Orlando, because it’s located in Florida, has lifted restrictions on restaurants. Section 3: Restaurants of Executive Order 20-244 states:

“Pursuant to Chapter 252, including sections 252.36(5)(b ), (g) and (h), Florida Statutes, and in order to safeguard the economic vitality of this state, any restaurant may operate as set forth below.

“A. Restaurants, including any establishment with a food service license, may not be limited by a COVID-19 emergency order by any local government to less than fifty
percent (50%) of their indoor capacity. If a restaurant is limited to less than one hundred percent (100%) of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 emergency order
must on its face satisfy the following:

“1. quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirement on those restaurants; and 2. explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.

“B. Nothing in this order preempts or supersedes a non-COVID-19 municipal or county order.

“Section 4. Suspension of COVID-19-related Individual Fines and Penalties This order, consistent with Executive Order 20-92, suspends the collection of fines and
penalties associated with COVID-19 enforced upon individuals.”

The order that closed bars has also been rescinded: “Bars and other alcoholic beverage vendors may operate for consumption on premise effective Monday, Sept. 14th
under Phase 2… Adhere to social distancing rules, table seating [six feet] between tables. Alcohol allowed for take-out and delivery.”

However, Executive Order 20-192 is still in place and states:

“WHEREAS, on March 17, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-68, as extended by Executive Order 20-112, which authorized the Department of Business and Professional
Regulation to ensure all restaurants implement employee screening and to prohibit any restaurant employee from entering the restaurant premises if he or she meets certain criteria indicative of concerns related to COVID-19.”

More details can be found here.

Last updated: January 27, 2021. Please note that Covid-19 guidance, restrictions and protocols are subject to swift change. One should monitor their state, county and city for the latest updates.

Image: Katy Anne on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Current Restaurant and Bar Restrictions: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver

Current Restaurant and Bar Restrictions: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver

by David Klemt

For more than a decade, KRG Hospitality has turned hospitality industry visions into reality throughout Canada.

Currently, we operate in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

We’ve reviewed and gathered the current Covid-19-based restrictions in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to help current operators and those considering taking the next steps in their journey toward opening their own businesses.

To book a 15-minute introductory call to discuss your project and how we can help you realize your vision, click here.

Toronto

On January 25, the province of Ontario officially extended the current state of emergency (which includes a stay-at-home order) by 14 days by Premier Doug Ford. Had Premier Ford not extended the emergency order, it would’ve expired Tuesday of this week. Unless extended again, it will expire February 11.

What this means for restaurants, bars and other types of F&B establishments is that indoor and outdoor dining are banned currently. Delivery, takeout and drive-through service are permitted.

Individuals face $750 fines (up to a maximum of $100,000) and corporations could be hit with $1,000 fines (up to a maximum of $500,000 for a director or officer) for a violation of emergency orders.

When the state of emergency expires or is otherwise rescinded, Ontario is expected to revert to the regulations found within the Reopening Ontario Act (currently suspended). Should Ontario find itself immediately colour-coded Grey, the current restrictions on restaurants and bars will remain identical: only delivery, takeout and drive-through service will be allowed.

Among other restrictions, a Red control level means restaurants are restricted to indoor dining capacity of ten people, outdoor dining is permitted, customers must be seated and two metres apart from one another, liquor may only be sold within a 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM window, face coverings must be worn except when eating or drinking, and nightclubs may only operate as a restaurant or bar.

Orange level restrictions include a 50-person capacity limit, a maximum of four people per table, customers must be screened before entry, liquor may only be sold between the hours of 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM, establishments must close by 10:00 PM, and gentlemen’s clubs must remain closed.

The Yellow control level is marked by the following restrictions: no more than six people may be seated at the same table, liquor may only be sold between 9:00 AM and 11:00 PM, establishments must close by midnight, music levels may not exceed that of a “normal conversation,” and all seated patrons must provide contact information.

Green control doesn’t mean everything is back to pre-pandemic “normalcy.” Tables must still be at least two metres apart, customers must be seated, face coverings must be worn except when eating or drinking, no buffet-style service is permitted, nightclubs may only operate as restaurants or bars, and contact information for at least one person per party must be collected. Restricted dancing, singing, performing and karaoke (no private rooms) are permitted.

Calgary

On December 13, 2020, indoor and outdoor dining was banned throughout Alberta. Current Covid-19-related public health measures and restrictions have been extended until further notice. The province’s restrictions affect restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs, and lounges (and other businesses, of course).

Only delivery, takeout and curbside pickup are permitted in Alberta. However, this is expected to change on February 8, 2021.

Hotels, motels and lodges are open but may not offer access to gyms, pools or spas. Indoor dining is banned but room service permitted. Casinos must remain closed.

Movie theatres, bowling alleys, pool halls and other entertainment businesses may not open for business.

If Alberta returns to the previous relaunch strategy, the province will be subject to a three-stage reopening. However, the document hasn’t been updated since June 2020.

Update: Alberta allowed restaurants and bars to reopen for in-person services yesterday, February 8. Indoor alcohol service must end by 10:00 PM, and indoor dining service must cease by 11:00 PM. Contact information from one person of the dining party must be collected, there’s a limit of six people maximum per table and each individual must be from the same household. Alternatively, the maximum per table for an individual living alone is there two close contacts. Tables must be spaced two metres apart and no entertainment is permitted.

Vancouver

British Columbia is far less restrictive than Ontario and Alberta, at least at the moment. The restrictions in place currently affect restaurants, bars, cafes, cafeterias, coffee shops, lounges, and tasting rooms. Nightclubs, however, must remain closed.

Requirements

  • Unless a physical barrier is in place, customers not in the same party must be at least two metres away from one another.
  • No more than six people may be seated at the same table or booth, even if they’re members of the same party.
  • If seated at a counter, customers must be two metres apart unless they’re in the same party or physical barriers are in place.
  • No more than six customers of the same party may be seated at a counter less than two metres from one another.
  • Businesses that offer self-serve food or non-alcohol drink stations must: ensure alcohol-based hand sanitizer or handwashing facilities are “within easy reach”; signage reminding customers to wash or sanitize their hands before touching anything on the stations and to maintain two metres from other customers must be present; utensils and high-touch surfaces at the stations must be cleaned and sanitized “frequently.”
  • Dance floors must be closed, and karaoke, singing, jam sessions, open mic sessions, and dancing are prohibited.
  • Background music or sounds may not be amplified or exceed the volume of a “normal” conversation.

Further details can be found here.

Last updated: February 9, 2021. Please note that Covid-19 guidance, restrictions and protocols are subject to swift change. One should monitor the country, provinces and cities for the latest updates.

Image: James Wheeler from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

California’s Restrictive Regional Stay-at-Home Order Rescinded

California’s Restrictive Regional Stay-at-Home Order Rescinded

by David Klemt

Expectation became reality yesterday when Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded California’s highly restrictive regional stay-at-home order.

It had been reported for at least a day prior that Gov. Newsom was expected to do so on January 25.

The order, which choked the life out of restaurants, bars and other businesses, has been in place since the start of December 2020.

As we reported several weeks ago, a group of Orange County operators pushed back against the order shortly after it was imposed. The #OPENSAFE collective released a statement announcing their intention to protest Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order by remaining open for in-person dining.

Other states that imposed seemingly arbitrary and illogical orders that crushed restaurants and bars also experienced open defiance from operators. One of the highest-profile protests came from New York City restaurants.

Speaking for the first time in well over a week about California’s efforts to combat Covid-19, Gov. Newsom said, “Everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down.”

That’s an interesting claim given California experienced a record number of Covid-19-related deaths on January 21 with 761. During his press conference, the embattled governor claimed he lifted his stay-at-home order due to ICU numbers and not because of the multiple lawsuits filed against him or the current recall campaign.

Rather, Gov. Newsom said that he made his decision based on Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing while vaccination rates are reportedly trending upward. However, as one source cited, just 26 percent of California’s allotted vaccine doses had been administered as of last week.

The rescinding of the regional stay-at-home order doesn’t mean that businesses can reopen and resume operations as usual. Each of the state’s counties will be color-coded according to California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Projections will be set aside for actual transmission rate data.

Tier 4 is color-coded yellow and its Covid-19 transmission risk is labeled “Minimal.” Tier 3 is orange and “Moderate,” where as Tier 2 is red and “Substantial.” Tier 1, which is purple, is labeled “Widespread.”

At the moment, most counties in California are purple.

Restaurants located in a Tier 1 county can offer only outdoor in-person dining. Those in Tier 2 can offer indoor dining but only at 25-percent capacity or 100-person maximum capacity (whichever is lower). Tier 3 bumps capacity to 50 percent or 200 people, and Tier 4 dictates a maximum of 50 percent capacity.

As expected, bars (along with breweries distilleries) that don’t serve food receive much harsher treatment than restaurants. Those located in a county designated purple or red must close. Bars in orange counties can open for outdoor service only, and those in yellow counties can offer indoor service at 50-percent maximum capacity. Bars “where [a] meal is provided” follow restaurant guidelines for the four applicable tiers.

Movie theaters, for context concerning how bars are being treated, are subject to the same guidance as restaurants in California’s blueprint. Such venues aren’t exactly known for providing meals.

Before operators who have chosen to work within California’s guidelines throw their doors open, they need to know two things. One, county officials are permitted to impose their own restrictions. If they choose to do so, those restrictions can be stricter than those that come down from state officials.

Two, for those operators in Los Angeles County, confusion remains regarding outdoor dining. Some interpret the rescinding of the state’s prohibition on outdoor dining as a lifting the ban. However, LA County implemented its own ban before the state did so. That county-issued ban expired on December 16 but outdoor dining was banned under the statewide stay-at-home order.

It may seem cut and dry that the expiration of the county order and the lifting of the state’s ban shifts LA County to Tier 1 restrictions. Operators should make sure they’re clear to resume outdoor service before incurring the costs associated with doing so.

How long California will revert back to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy is anyone’s guess. Operators in several states have found themselves caught in a vicious open-close, open-close vortex. At any rate, 25-percent capacity restrictions will still more than likely make it more cost-effective for some operations to remain closed for indoor service.

Image: Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Dave Portnoy, Other Celebrities Provide Financial Support for Restaurants and Other Small Businesses

Dave Portnoy, Other Celebrities Provide Financial Support for Restaurants and Other Small Businesses

by David Klemt

Famous chefs and restaurateurs aren’t the only people lending their celebrity to raise money for struggling businesses and the workers they employ.

Well, notoriety may be a better descriptor for Dave Portnoy‘s influence than celebrity. He may not be an operator but he is one of the most prolific pizza reviewers and influencers on the planet. And there’s no denying he’s been in the corner of restaurants, criticizing how officials and their responses have dealt lethal blows to the industry.

The Barstool Sports founder was challenged to put his money where his mouth is by Marcus Lemonis after “ranting” about the plight of Covid-19-ravaged restaurants and bars. Rising to the challenge, Portnoy seeded the Barstool Fund with a personal donation of $500,000, which Lemonis matched.

That half-million dollars isn’t the only donation Lemonis has made to help small businesses. The entrepreneur, philanthropist and television show host launched the Nashville 30 Day Fund by putting in $500,000 of his own money just days after December 25, 2020. This particular fund provides small businesses and individuals that operate or reside within a half-mile radius of the Christmas Day bombing site in Nashville with forgivable loans up to $100,000

Back to the Barstool Fund. Bolstered by celebrity backing and support from more than 175,000 donors and counting, the fund has raised more than $22 million in less than a month and helped more than 100 businesses.

Guy Fieri, who helped grow the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to well over $20 million, has donated money to the Barstool Fund. So have Aaron Rodgers (who reportedly pitched in $500,000), Tom Brady, Dana White, and Kid Rock.

One crucial element for small businesses applying to the Barstool Fund is that they must still be paying their employees. There are no regional restrictions, but applicants do need to explain the intended use for whatever funds they may receive. According to a Newsweek article, checks will be given to businesses selected for Barstool Fund support on a month-t0-month basis.

Below you’ll find the restaurants, bars, pubs, taverns and even a soda shop that have received Barstool Fund grants as of yesterday afternoon, January 11. To apply for funds, please click here. If you can afford to contribute, please follow this link and click “Contribute to the Fund.”

Northeast

Gaetano’s Tavern on Main (Wallingford, CT), Laskara (Wallingford, CT),  Piggy’s Cafe (Hartford, CT), Red Rock Tavern (Hartford, CT), Abbey Burger Bistro (Baltimore, MD), Claddagh Pub (Baltimore, MD), Don’t Know Tavern (Baltimore, MD), Dough Boy Fresh Pretzel Company (Dundalk, MD), Atlas Pub & Kitchen (Chicopee, MA), Casa Mia (Marblehead, MA), Jalapeno’s Mexican Grill (Walpole, MA), Jimmy’s Pub & Restaurant (Mansfield, MA), The Park Lunch (Newburyport, MA), The Village Trestle (Goffstown, NH), Hoboken Beer & Soda Outlet (Hoboken, NJ), Jack’s Cafe (Verona, NJ), Marandola’s (Bradley Beach, NJ), Mia Restaurant (Oceanport, NJ), Nanni Ristorante (Rochelle Park, NJ), Tim Kerwin’s Tavern (Middlesex, NJ), The Underdog Bar & Grill (Haledon, NJ), Acquista Trattoria (Fresh Meadows, NY), Bayview Tavern (Seaford, NY), Borrelli’s (East Meadow, NY), The Café (Long Beach, NY), Chadwick’s Restaurant (Brooklyn, NY), Durf’s Family Restaurant (Fairport, NY), The Eagle House (Williamsville, NY), Holbrooks Backporch (Holbrook, NY), Johny’s Luncheonette (New York, NY), Kabooz’s Bar and Grill (New York, NY), Kirvens (Bronx, NY),La Conca D’Oro (Catskill, NY), Mama Mia 44 SW (New York, NY), Mary Ann’s Mexican Restaurant (Port Chester, NY), Mulligan’s Fireside Pub (Bronx, NY), Portobello Restaurant (Staten Island, NY), Roomers Bar (Lake Placid, NY), San Martino Ristorante (Yonkers, NY), Squire’s Tap Room (Tonawanda, NY), Trattoria L’incontro (Queens, NY), Flanigan’s Boathouse (Conshohocken, PA), Jack’s Spot Tavern (Pitman, PA), Kelly’s Seafood (Philadelphia, PA), La Collina (Bala Cynwyd, PA)

Midwest

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen (Chicago, IL), Ken’s Diner (Skokie, IL), Que Rico (Chicago, IL), The Rathskeller (Indianapolis, IN), Special Dogs & More (Columbus, IN), The Bomber Restaurant (Ypsilanti, MI), Champ’s Pub (Brighton, MI), Kennedy’s Irish Pub (Waterford, MI), Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack (Saline, MI), Water Street Tavern (Kent, OH), Dairy Land Family Restaurant (Madison, WI), Gray Brewing Company (Janesville, WI), J&B’s Bar & Blue Ribbon Tap Room (Milwaukee, WI)

Rocky Mountains

Durango Diner (Durango, CO)

Southeast

Play Louisville (Louisville, KY), Steak Street (High Point, NC), Freddie’s Beach Bar (Arlington, VA), Wonju Korean Restaurant (Roanoke, VA)

Southwest

Al J’s Tavern (Tucson, AZ), Coney Island Hot Weiners (Tulsa, OK), Mack’s Tenders (Houston, TX)

Pacific

Anaheim White House (Anaheim, CA), Cactus Cantina (Riverside, CA), Dessert’D Organic Bake Shop (Mammoth Lakes, CA), Locale Farm to Table Eatery (Bakersfield, CA), Mexican Riviera (Torrance, CA), Mitla Cafe (San Bernardino, CA), Rubi’s Frosty Freeze (Whittier, CA), Tadich Grill (San Francisco, CA), Vincenzo’s Terrazza (West Covina, CA), Banks Billiards (Banks, OR), Mayan Mexican Family Restaurants (Lacey, WA)

For the full list of Barstool Fund recipients, click here.

Image: Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Operators Remain Caught in Vortex of Open-Close-Open Cycle

Operators Remain Caught in Vortex of Open-Close-Open Cycle

by David Klemt

Another week, another round of changes for restaurant and bar operators in different states.

It has become all too familiar for those in the hospitality industry: Orders governing capacities, party sizes, bar seating, capacities, and operating hours are issued, and within weeks or days, new orders are issued.

The result is a costly high-wire act forcing restaurant, bar and nightclub owners, operators, managers and workers to deal with an inordinate amount of stress. Every cost-incurring change threatens the longevity of each affected business and the livelihoods of those they employ.

That includes reopening. What officials likely view in a positive light isn’t that cut and dry for the business owners. Whether its ignorance or indifference, governors and other officials don’t seem to realize that permitting people to resume operation isn’t as simple as turning on lights and unlocking doors. Even a small bar is a machine with many moving parts.

As anyone who has been involved in mandated close-reopen cycles knows, there are myriad operational elements that must be aligned before throwing open the doors once again. Product must be secured, a workforce must be contacted and assembled, equipment must be checked, required health and safety protocols must be reviewed and shared with staff, the word must go out to potential guests… Those challenges and more must be overcome quickly while the threat of another closure or more restrictions loom not far in the distance.

Just a week ago, we shared the story of a Minnesota operator facing a five-year liquor license suspension for defying the order issued in November of last year that banned indoor dining. On Monday, January 11, Governor Tim Walz announced restaurants and bars will be able to open again—with restrictions, of course. Indoor event and entertainment venues will also be permitted to open.

Gov. Walz’s order allows restaurants and bars to resume indoor service at 50-percent capacity, with overall capacity maxed out at 150 people. Reservations will be required, parties may not exceed six guests and must be socially distanced six feet from other parties, bar seating will be restricted to parties of two, and dine-in service must cease at by 10:00 PM.

Indoor event venues such as bowling alleys are also limited to a maximum capacity of 150 people but are restricted to 25 percent capacity. Foodservice is required to stop by 10:00 PM if the venue serves food. Gov. Walz’s orders are, reportedly, a response to infection rates falling from 13 percent to six percent.

In another (partial) reversal, bars that don’t serve food have been ordered to close in some counties in Texas. The state’s 254 counties have been separated into 22 Trauma Service Areas (TSA). Per an order from Gov. Greg Abbott, if a TSA’s hospital capacity consists of 15 percent or more of Covid-19 patients for seven consecutive days, specific restrictions are triggered. Those restrictions are only lifted when the TSA falls beneath the 15-percent threshold for seven days straight.

TSA Q, which includes Houston, restaurants are now required to restrict capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent. Bars—businesses with gross sales of alcohol of 51 percent or greater—must close. A judge overseeing Coryell County has reportedly defended the three bars in his county, stating that he sees “no reason why our three establishments should be penalized.” Judge Roger Miller doesn’t think the bars have contributed significantly to increased infections in the county and is said to be asking for an exemption so they can remain open.

For bar owners unable or unwilling to make the transition to restaurant designation, the restriction is a lethal blow. Facing reduced traffic and rising costs, even a week-long closure can spell disaster. It’s no wonder more than 3,000 Texas bars have maneuvered to offer food and increase food sales in order to be categorized as restaurants—it’s a viable means of survival. At least restaurants in Texas are able to operate 50-percent capacity rather than the 25 percent other states have mandated should they operate in a TSA that triggers Gov. Abbott’s enhanced restrictions.

The ever-shifting rules and regulations operators face across the country make it more important than ever that they receive significant, targeted aid. Yes, vaccines have been approved. Yes, foodservice workers have been recommended for the third stage of vaccine rollout. That’s not enough. A new meeting of Congress was sworn in January 3 and the pressure campaign to demand the passage and signing into law of the RESTAURANTS Act or a similar bill must continue.

This is not meant in any way to diminish the appalling chaos and terroristic violence visited upon our Capitol Building two days ago. That reprehensible act of insurrection was an attack on us all and our elected officials must reckon with that appalling assault.

However, what occurred on January 6, a date that will certainly live on in infamy throughout our great nation’s history, does not absolve Congress from their duty to save our industry and the millions of workers it employs. If anything, it highlights their responsibility to help rather than harm all Americans.

Image: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

86 Restaurant Struggle Campaign a Quarter of the Way to Million-dollar Goal

86 Restaurant Struggle Campaign a Quarter of the Way to Million-dollar Goal

by David Klemt

It’s a new year and we could all use a lift and some great news.

I think a grassroots campaign to provide financial assistance to struggling restaurant workers should restore a bit of faith in humanity.

Chef Andrew Gruel, CEO and executive chef of the Slapfish chain of seafood restaurants, along with wife Lauren Gruel and Slapfish vice president of operations Brad Hall, launched the 86 Restaurant Struggle campaign on GoFundMe in December 2020. The goal is to raise $1 million for restaurant workers enduring hardship.

This news gets better and better:

  • 86 Restaurant Struggle has raised over $228,000 of the $1 million goal.
  • More than 2,100 people have donated to the GoFundMe campaign.
  • So far, half of the donations fall within the $5-100 range, meaning that even during these incredibly difficult times, people are coming together to give whatever they can afford to share.
  • The funds are being dispersed immediately to restaurant workers in need.
  • Turnaround time for 86 Restaurant Struggle fund applicants to be screened and receive their funds is, so far, less than two days.
  • As of two days ago, the campaign has managed to quickly disperse more than $100,000 of the funds raised.

The campaign is inspiring, even if the reason for its existence is the maddening failure of government to provide meaningful assistance to the hospitality industry and the millions of hard-working people it employs. This industry is made up of people who don’t leave others behind and who won’t wait for the government to decide anyone’s fate if they can help it.

Hey, we may not all like one another but we have each other’s backs. It’s important for our mental and emotional health to keep that in mind, as difficult as that may be sometimes.

To learn more about 86 Restaurant Struggle, please click here. To apply for assistance, click here. To follow Chef Gruel and track the progress of 86 Restaurant Struggle, click here.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Defiance of Sweeping Restaurant and Bar Restrictions is Growing

Defiance of Sweeping Restaurant and Bar Restrictions is Growing

by David Klemt

Defiance of Covid-19-related bar and restaurant restrictions is growing.

Operators across the United States are showing their willingness to refuse to comply with orders they feel are unjust. From being restricted to delivery and takeout only to crippling capacity limits, restaurant and bar owners are making it clear they have no intention to quietly let their employees and businesses suffer.

The pushback has taken various forms so far, from civil disobedience to organized, peaceful protests.

There’s the #OPENSAFE movement in Orange County, California, to which several dozen operators have committed. These business owners have pledged to operate safely and responsibly but have refused to comply with Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders that banned in-person dining.

86 Politicians, a grassroots movement coming out of Los Angeles County in California, was created as a response to the sweeping orders kneecapping the hospitality industry. If politicians are going to hurt rather than help operators and their employees, 86 Politicians supports recalling and removing them from office.

In New York City, the Latino Restaurant Bar and Lounge Association of New York State and New York City Hospitality Alliance organized a peaceful protest just over two weeks ago. Several hundred restaurant and bar owners, operators and workers gathered and marched against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ban on indoor dining. Gov. Cuomo’s order was itself defiant: it defied logic and went against the state’s own contact-tracing data.

Now, an operator in Minnesota is facing a five-year suspension of her bar and bistro’s liquor license for defying orders. Lisa Hanson, owner of the Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro in Albert Lea, roughly 90 minutes south of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, refuses to comply with Governor Tim Walz’s executive order banning indoor service. Hanson has been engaged in this fight since at least December of last year.

Hanson organized a protest—a reportedly peaceful one—of around 200 people yesterday. Protestors marched and chanted from city hall to the courthouse, walking past the Interchange at one point.

The bar and bistro, which has been hit with a temporary restraining order and had its license revoked by the Minnesota Department of Health, has a sign up declaring it a “Constitutionally Compliant Business.” That sign, which appeared in a WCCO 4 News clip and bears the logo, phone number and weblink for the Constitutional Law Group, states that the Interchange doesn’t follow any government official or agency’s “orders or suggestions” for face masks or social distancing.

According to a news report, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety is moving forward with a 60-day suspension of the Interchange’s liquor license. Hanson told reporter David Schuman that she had two choices: “Either I closed permanently or I opened fully.”

Hanson chose the latter. The Interchange’s owner is entitled to a court hearing before her suspension goes into effect. A tip jar at the bar and bistro has been transformed into a legal fund collection.

Whether one agrees with Hanson’s decision to make a stand and risk her liquor license and therefore business is somewhat beside the point. The #OPENSAFE and 86 Politicians movements, the protests in New York City, the story of the Interchange (which has yet to reach its conclusion), all point to increasing tensions.

Many restaurant and bar owners and operators don’t feel as though their voices are being heard. They feel like politicians at all levels of government are targeting them, using the businesses as scapegoats. More and more, the words “arbitrary” and “unfair” are coming up in conversations about rules that are crippling—if not outright killing—the hospitality industry.

Well over 100,000 restaurants and bars in the US have closed permanently since the start of the pandemic in March of last year. Unless officials listen to operators and at least gain a cursory understanding of their needs and challenges, more closures and job losses are imminent.

To be clear, we at KRG Hospitality aren’t against logical, common sense health and safety protocols aimed halting the spread of Covid-19. One of the cornerstones of hospitality is ensuring the safety of guests and employees. However, government officials and agencies are implementing and executing orders that are, quite clearly, uninformed and severely harmful. What works for retail and other industries doesn’t work for our industry.

It’s crucial that pressure be kept on Congress and Senate to vote on the RESTAURANTS Act and ensure it’s signed into law. The 117th Congress was sworn in yesterday and we must continue to demand they do their jobs and save our industry. We’ve been targeted as scapegoats—it’s beyond time we receive targeted relief.

Politicians can expect more protests and less faith in their abilities to govern if restaurant and bar owners and professionals continue to be harmed by their orders. Perhaps the only way to persuade them to help the industry and, in turn, keep their constituents employed, is to imperil their political influence and careers. Eighty-six ignorant and harmful politicians, indeed.

Image of Minnesota State Capitol: Bao Chau on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

You Need to Watch “Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line” Now

You Need to Watch Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line Now

by David Klemt

Whether you own, operate, manage, are employed by or have ever spent time at a restaurant as a guest, you need to watch Food Network’s Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line.

Guy Fieri, who has helped raise $24 million (and counting) for restaurant industry workers, executive produced and co-directed the documentary, which aired last night. He tasked skeleton production crews (one would assume given the pandemic) with following four incredible chefs—Marcus Samuelsson, Maneet Chauhan (and her husband Vivek), Christian Petroni, and Antonia Lofaso—and said he wanted them to keep the cameras rolling to capture “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

When the scope of Covid-19 became clearer and the industry began to see how much devastating its impact would be on restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues, Fieri says in the documentary that he had two thoughts: “’No way can this happen,’ and, ‘Oh my god, this is gonna be worse than we ever imagined.’”

He’s angry about what’s happening to the industry and millions of people it employs and feeds.

“I was mad. I’m still mad,” says Fieri in Restaurant Hustle 2020. “Wrecked lives, wrecked families… Changed the history of the industry.”

Per the documentary, Fieri felt compelled to help his “millions of brothers and sisters” in whatever ways possible: “There was no words. It’s coming. Prepare. Stick together. What can we do?”

The documentary begins with three indisputable facts that speak volumes to the importance of the industry: The restaurant industry employs over 15 million people. That equals up to 20 percent of America’s workforce. The industry generates over $850 billion in sales.

From there, Restaurant Hustle 2020 introduces the four chefs, their restaurants, their challenges, and their collective hustle. Like so many in this industry, there’s no giving up in these people—there’s only fight.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Seeking community after 9/11, Chef Samuelsson opened the Harlem location of Red Rooster in 2010. That location employed 180 people—Chef Samuelsson had 30 venues located in eight countries when Covid-19 hit. Pre-pandemic, Red Rooster in Harlem would see around 1,100 guests on a Saturday night, and Chef Samuelson was just a week out from opening the doors of Red Rooster in Miami.

“It’s taken me 25 years to build this moment, but it took ten days to tear it all down. I don’t wish it on my worst enemy,” says Chef Samuelsson.

Chef Maneet Chauhan

Chef Chauhan and her husband Vivek operate four restaurants and three breweries within the Morph Hospitality Group portfolio in Nashville, Tennessee. At their peak, they served 2,500 guests over the course of a weekend. Morph employed nearly 300 people but by March they made the heart-wrenching decision to close their doors. Recalling the difficult choice, Chef Chauhan is brought to tears talking about how gracious her employees were about it.

However, Chef Chauhan and husband Vivek are willing to fight for their dreams and their employees: “The thing is, we are scrappy. We are immigrants,” she says.

Vivek focused on developing and strategizing reopening plans, and the duo fully embody the meaning of the Hindi word “jugaad,” or “a flexible approach to a problem.” While it only represented maybe a tenth of their regular sales, Morph implemented curbside pickup at three of their venues. They rotated availability offering curbside at a different location on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This allowed them to bring back a handful of employees.

Chef Christian Petroni

There are five locations of Chef Petroni‘s Italian restaurant concept Fortina throughout New York’s tri-state area: Armonk, Brooklyn, Rye Brook, Stamford, and Yonkers. Heading into 2020, they were set to have another amazing year after doing very well in 2019.

“We were just gearing up to take over the world,” says Chef Petroni.

The first Covid-19 death in the United States was reported on February 28 in King County in Washington State. As we know, on March 16, 2020, NYC shut down around 27,000 restaurants, resulting in the loss of 225,000 jobs. Chef Petroni employed nearly 300 people but had to reduce his workforce to less than twenty. To help the communities they serve and generate some revenue, Chef Lofaso created Pies for the People so customers were able to buy pies for those in need or who needed a morale boost (such as hospital workers and EMTs).

Chef Antonia Lofaso

Over the course of a decade, Chef Lofaso has built and operated three restaurant concepts in Los Angeles, California. Her restaurants employed almost 500 people and back in February, serving 1,200 guests over the course of just two weekend evenings was common. Chef Lofaso’s biggest passion is the hospitality aspect of restaurant operation and being “the facilitator of the good time.” That good time came crashing down in March.

“It’s taken me ten years to build these three restaurants and it took a matter of a week for it all to be torn down,” says Chef Lofaso.

She admits to feeling sadness and anger, in large part because she had to lay off nearly 500 employees. Chef Lofaso says that she feels responsible to her team members because they help her build her dream. By March she was able to bring back roughly 20 workers, convert her locations into markets, and sell liquor, which allowed her to bring back 90 percent of her back-of-house employees for at least two days per week and double sales.

For the rest of the story, people will have to watch Restaurant Hustle 2020. The importance of Food Network, Guy Fieri and these chefs capturing this crucial moment in history cannot be overstated.

As Fieri says in the documentary, it’s “a historical moment in time in an industry that is so important to all of us in so many ways, shapes and forms, and these four very brave chef-restaurant owners captured it. Something you’ve never seen. Something you’ll probably never see again.”

As we move forward into 2021, it’s crucial we remember that this story is still unfolding—we don’t know what the new year holds for this or any industry. We know that without targeted aid, the lives of millions of Americans are in jeopardy. We know that even with vaccines available, we’re not out of harm’s way yet.

We don’t know what the industry will look like when the world returns to “normal,” whatever that may be. But we know this industry is made up of fighters and we look out for our own. We’ll get through this together.

Food Network is available via several streaming platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV.

Photo by Shangyou Shi on Unsplash

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