Restaurants

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Current Restaurant, Bar and Travel Restrictions: Eastern Caribbean

Current Restaurant, Bar and Travel Restrictions: Eastern Caribbean

by David Klemt

KRG Hospitality has turned hospitality industry visions into reality throughout the Eastern Caribbean for several years.

We’ve reviewed and gathered the current Covid-19-based travel and operator restrictions for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin and Sint Maarten 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.

Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, Governor Pedro Pierluisi revised Puerto Rico’s Covid-19 protocols.

Travel Requirements

  • Complete travel declaration and:
  • arrive with proof of a negative (molecule-based) Covid-19 test; or
  • self-quarantine (at traveler’s expense) either 14 days or the duration of your trip, whichever is shorter.
  • While in Puerto Rico, travelers must:
    • wear a mask at all times when in public;
    • wash hands frequently;
    • wipe down high-touch surfaces;
    • practice social distancing; and
    • keep track of and minimize places visited and interactions with people.

Requirements

  • Island-wide curfew from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
  • Hotels: Common areas closed from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
  • Restaurants: Limited to 30-percent capacity.
  • Bars and Discos: Closed.
  • Movie theaters and casinos: Limited to 30-percent capacity.
  • All businesses must close by 10:00 PM.

Recommendations

  • Reservations for restaurants visits.

US Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands Department of Health has provided incredibly detailed guidance for restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Click here for the full details. The USVI include the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and several so-called “minor” islands.

Travel Requirements

  • All air and sea travelers to the US Virgin Islands five years of age or older are required to use the USVI Travel Portal and submit a Covid-19 test before travel. This includes anyone in-transit to another destination.
    • Acceptable tests: COVID-19 molecular from a nasal or throat or saliva swab, COVID-19 antigen (rapid) test from a nasal or throat swab, Covid-19 antibody finger stick or blood draw.
  • Travelers who originate in the USVI and return to the territory, including those who return within a five-day period, are required to take a Covid-19 test before returning or have proof of a positive antibody test result within the previous four months.

Requirements

  • All restaurant, bar and nightclub employees reporting for work must be screened for Covid-19 using this questionnaire.
  • Employers can either conduct temperature checks onsite with a no-touch thermometer or employees may check their temperatures before arriving at the workplace and have the results verified by management onsite. Temperatures should not exceed 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Employees and guests must wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking.
  • At the minimum, ask guests the following questions before allowing entry:
    • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
    • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
    • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
  • Capacity is limited to 50 percent (as defined by Business License or the Fire Marshall) or 100 guests, whichever is fewer.
  • Space tables and barstools six feet apart.
  • No more than six guests may be seated at the same table.
  • Serving alcohol at bar counters is prohibited.
  • Guests picking up takeout orders must wait outside until their order is ready.
  • The sale of alcohol between 11:00 PM and 8:00 AM by all restaurants and establishments with a Tavern Keeper A or Tavern Keeper B license is prohibited.
  • Restaurants must remain closed between the hours of midnight and 6:00 AM.
  • All bars and nightclubs are permitted to operate only for seated service.
  • Cabarets remain closed.
  • Last call for bars and nightclubs—without exception—is at 11:00 PM.
  • Guests of bars and nightclubs are required to wear masks unless seated at their designated table.
  • Live music and DJs must cease performances at closing time: Midnight.

Recommendations

  • Whenever possible, require reservations for visits and deliveries.
  • If possible, prioritize curbside pickup and takeout over in-person dining.

British Virgin Islands

The BVI, which consist of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke and more than 50 smaller islands and cays, were closed for nine months before reopening to travelers on December 1, 2020. The Government of the Virgin Islands, however, imposed a travel ban on anyone travelling from the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic to the BVI effective January 11.

Travel Requirements

  • Travelers must start their application no later than 48 hours before travel.
  • Applications on the BVI Gateway portal must be completed a minimum of 24 hours before travel date and time.
  • All applicants who are in “pending” status and haven’t completed their necessary requirements 24 hours prior to travelling will be denied entry.
  • Travelers must have proof of negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 5 days prior to day of travel and proof of medical insurance that includes coverage for Covid-19.
  • Visitors are required to quarantine for four days on the property of their approved accommodations or at their own home. Arrival day is considered day zero.
  • Air travelers: Visitors can arrive at the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport (EIS) on Tortola.
  • Sea travelers: Visitors can arrive at Road Town Ferry Terminal.

Requirements

  • As of January 28, a curfew is in place from 2:01 AM to 4:59 AM daily until February 11. Businesses are permitted to operate between the hours of 5:00 AM to 2:00 AM daily if they’ve been inspected and approved by the Social Distancing Monitoring Task Force and certified by the Environmental Health Division.
  • Gold Seal Professional Level Certification: A nine-hour training course (three hours over three days) that incorporates COVID-19 training and professional-level hospitality service training required for front-line personnel across all hospitality industry sectors, specifically front desk representatives, guest room attendants, restaurant servers and kitchen cooks.

St. Martin and Sint Maarten

This 37-square-mile island has two sides, the St. Martin (the French) and Sint Maarten (the Dutch).

Travel Requirements

  • All travelers arriving by air must complete Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) application.
  • As of January 27, 2021, all travelers embarking in Aruba are required to submit a negative rt-PCR test within 72 hours before departure to Sint Maarten (until further notice)
  • As of February 12, 2021, the rt-PCR test time frame will be reduced from 120 to 72 hours, before departure to St. Maarten for all travelers originating from a high-risk country (last leg in case of connecting flights).
  • Travelers arriving via sea from a low-risk country are exempt from Covid-19 testing.
  • Travelers arriving via sea from a moderate- to high-risk country must complete an rt-PCR test 120 hours prior to departure from last port (must be the immediate last departure point).

Requirements

  • Restaurants, bars and nightclubs must close by midnight. This applies to the Dutch side of St. Maarten as well.
  • Casinos on the Dutch side must close by 2:00 AM.
  • No more than 6 people may be seated at any given table.
  • Tables and contact surfaces must be thoroughly disinfected with an antiviral product.
  • It is mandatory for staff and customers to wear a mask when moving around.

Last updated: January 28, 2021. Please note that Covid-19 guidance, restrictions and protocols are subject to swift change. One should monitor their jurisdictions for the latest updates.

Image: Colin Chong on Unsplash

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

Tobin Ellis and Barmagic’s Relief Dashboard Contains Hundreds of Restaurant and Bar Resources

Tobin Ellis and Barmagic’s Relief Dashboard Contains Hundreds of Restaurant and Bar Resources

by David Klemt

In keeping with this week’s focus on good news, KRG Hospitality would like to shine a light on Barmagic’s Bar & Restaurant Revival Guide.

First, some background.

Tobin Ellis founded Barmagic of Las Vegas in 1997. He’s done so much for the hospitality industry that it feels almost criminal to just attach a few labels to describe him, but here we are.

Ellis is a hospitality industry innovator, advocate, designer, marketer and consultant. Anyone who has ever attended an hospitality trade show and sat in on a presentation, panel or Q&A session featuring him knows he’s passionate, quick-witted, real-world solution-oriented, and doesn’t suffer pretenders lightly.

He’s also more than put in the work to for the recognition he deserves as an industry icon. Ellis has been in the trenches for decades, beginning his hospitality journey washing dishes in upstate New York. He has worked around the world in essentially every type of venue, from sleepy dives to hyperkinetic high-volume cocktail bars, and everything in between.

A few years back, Perlick partnered with Ellis to create the Tobin Ellis Signature Cocktail Station. This innovative hardware was designed with ergonomics in mind, focusing on improving bar team member’s physical comfort and safety.

Since restaurants and bars found themselves fully in the devastating and nearly inescapable grip of the pandemic, Ellis has focused on the health and longevity of the industry as a whole.

To help operators navigate the pandemic and the myriad challenges (again, a criminal label for what operators and workers have been facing for almost 12 months) it continues to present, Ellis added a Hospitality Relief dashboard to the Barmagic website.

Visitors will find hundreds of links for US- and Canada-based resources, including a relief map for those who need aid or who want to donate to relief efforts. There’s also a link to the Barmagic Bar & Restaurant Revival Guide, a 96-page download loaded with information and ideas that Ellis hopes “might just spark a thought or two” in the minds of restaurant and bar owners, operators, leaders and workers.

We’re not going to get through this if we don’t come together, save as many businesses as possible, and help new venues open and flourish. We applaud the Barmagic relief resources—more like this, please.

Image:

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

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

75% of American Restaurant Operators Expect Decreased Sales Through Start of 2021

75% of American Restaurant Operators Expect Decreased Sales Through January

by David Klemt

The fifth National Restaurant Association COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey results have been released.

Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, the news is not good.

For their fifth installment, the NRA surveyed 6,000 restaurant operators and 250 supply chain businesses between November 17 and 30. Full-service and limited-service restaurant operators, independent and chain, reported their sales had slipped in October.

Only 12 percent of restaurant operators reported seeing sales growth. In comparison, 79 percent said sales were down.

Per the NRA survey, one reason for the decline in sales is outdoor dining season coming to a close. In New York City, per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order banning indoor dining, outdoor dining is the only option beyond delivery and takeout. However, the weather is less than attractive for outdoor diners.

Costs are disproportionate to sales for most operators. Nearly 60 percent of survey participants reported increased labor costs when compared to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.

Profit margins, historically thin even at the best of times, were reported by 86 percent of operators who partook in the survey to also be lower than the they were prior to the pandemic.

The NRA’s predicted outcome for the industry is that without targeted and significant federal relief specifically for restaurants and bars, more temporary and permanent closures are coming, as are further losses of jobs.

According to an estimate from the NRA, more than 110,000 restaurants and bars had closed by December 1. On average, these establishments employed 32 people, and 17 percent of the closed businesses employed a minimum of 50 people.

Close to 40 percent of survey participants indicated they were considering closing their restaurants or bars temporarily and waiting out the pandemic. That means layoffs that could affect dozens of employees per establishment. Almost 60 percent of survey participants expect a reduction in their workforces over the coming three months.

Sales are expected to lag through the start of next year. The majority of operators surveyed, 75 percent, expect sales to fall even further from their already lower levels through the start of next year.

If that logical assumption becomes reality, slowed sales may trigger a domino effect: reduced traffic, plummeting sales, and increased operational costs leading to layoffs, temporary closures, and ultimately permanent closures.

Restaurants and bars require targeted relief for the industry to survive. If that help doesn’t come soon, if the RESTAURANTS Act or similar legislation isn’t signed into law, the country will lose millions of jobs permanently. The economy will be dealt a lethal blow, losing out on tens of billions of dollars.

Now is not the time to back off the pressure being put on Congress and Senate to pass the RESTAURANTS Act. Click here to tell them time is up—they must return to Washington in January to save our restaurants and bars.

Image: Enrico Hänel from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

“More help is on the way.” But not for restaurants and bars.

“More help is on the way.” But not for restaurants and bars.

by David Klemt

Speaking about the economic relief package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) struck what can be generously described as tainted altruism.

“More help is on the way,” said McConnell on the Senate floor on Sunday. He also took the time to attempt to absolve Republican leadership of any blame for the glacier-paced movement forward on relief, laying the fault at Democrats’ feet.

To be blunt, both parties have failed the American people and small businesses in terms of providing federal assistance during the pandemic.

After months of inaction on relief—with the exception of a Congressional vote in September that failed to pass in the Senate—and weeks of discussions and partisan sniping, negotiators finally managed to zero in on a bill with a strong likelihood of becoming law.

Yet sifting through remarks made by some politicians regarding pandemic relief over the course of the past several months, variants of the word “prompt” were bandied about.

If the package passes—which is expected to happen later today—members of Congress and Senate will no doubt perform self-congratulatory victory laps for finally doing their jobs after months of failing to do much of anything in the way of relief. Meanwhile, millions of Americans will continue to face life-altering challenges, reaching out for lifelines that are simply not there.

Included in the package are a number of details identified as “key” to both political parties:

  • The ability for businesses that had received Paycheck Protection Program loans which had been forgiven to deduct the costs said loans covered on their federal tax returns.
  • Speaking of the PPP, it will be reopened with over $284 billion intended for small businesses.
  • $12 billion in available PPP funds for minority-owned and “very small” businesses.
  • $15 billion made available in PPP funds specifically for independent movie theaters, live music venues, and cultural institutions like museums.
  • $600 stimulus checks for qualifying adults (and each child in a household) who earned $75,000 or less in 2019. The amount would be reduced for people who earned more. Those who made $99,000 or more last year are not expected to receive a stimulus check.
  • A $300 boost to unemployment benefits for 11 months, with a possible implementation date of December 27.
  • Gig and contract workers enrolled in the PUA or PEUC programs can expect the same $300 boost to their benefits for 11 to 13 weeks.
  • The deadline to spend billions of dollars made available to cities and states via the CARES Act is expected to be extended from the end of this year to be an entire year.
  • $25 billion in emergency assistance for renters.
  • A moratorium on evictions expected to be extended through the end of January.

What’s not in the package expected to be rushed through Congress? Hundreds of billions of dollars in state and local aid Democrats wanted, liability shields for corporations Republicans wanted, the $120 billion RESTAURANTS Act, or the $240 billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund.

Despite McConnell’s declaration that federal assistance is on the way, the economic relief plan leaves an industry that employs millions of American workers and contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation’s GDP (four percent before the pandemic) to fend for itself.

Guy Fieri, in all seriousness, has done more for more unemployed restaurant workers than the government, raising more than $21 million in relief funds in under two months.

The hospitality jobs lost due to Covid-19 aren’t expected to return. With more than 110,000 restaurants closed—and counting—the economic impact will be felt nationwide and, in all probability, have global ramifications.

The PPP turned out to be an absolute farce: billions of dollars went to businesses that are anything but small by definition. There’s little reason to believe the process will improve much (if at all) this time around.

And while restaurants and bars have been crucial to nurturing community, connections and culture since inception, they’re clearly not considered culturally relevant institutions by politicians.

With Congress facing an uphill battle in terms of drafting the language for the relief bill and then voting on it, expecting our elected officials to propose, negotiate, draft and vote on a bill for the hospitality industry seems foolish. That means the earliest the industry can expect help—which seems exceedingly unlikely to ever materialize—is in late February of 2021.

Apparently restaurants, bars, and the foodservice professionals they employ aren’t key to politicians on any side of the aisle. Well, not until they need venues to host their campaign fundraisers, that is.

Image: Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Texas the Model for Restaurant Operation During the Pandemic?

Is Texas the Model for Restaurant Operation During the Pandemic?

by David Klemt

The mass exodus to Texas has been all over the news lately.

Many new Texas residents moved to the Lone Star State moved from California. Some moved to escape exorbitant rent, home prices, and taxes. But others have left California due to what some deem over-reaching Covid-19 restrictions.

On December 5, a regional stay-at-home order took effect in five California regions. Included in that order was a restriction on “nonessential trips” between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. Some California lawmakers disagreed with labeling the restriction a “curfew” but it certainly seemed like one to Californians.

Also included in the order was a full shutdown of businesses categorized as bars, while restaurants were restricted to delivery and takeout only. In response, a group of operators in Orange County formed the #OPENSAFE movement and made it known they intended to defy the order, which is expected to remain in place through at least Christmas.

It’s likely that some former Californians flocked to Texas due to Governor Gavin Newsom’s restrictive stay-at-home order and “Covid fatigue.”

But is Texas less restrictive than California?

Some counties in Texas did implement curfews. For example, a 10:00 P.M. to 5:00 A.M. curfew took effect in Bexar, El Paso and San Antonio Counties over the Thanksgiving holiday. However, they were short-lived and ended November 30.

According to reports, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego is mulling the idea of a “partial curfew” for the period between the Christmas holiday and New Year’s Eve.

One major difference between the orders implemented in California and those that were issued in Texas is that the latter weren’t blanket, statewide restrictions.

Another difference regards bars. Drinking establishments are closed throughout California. In Texas, according to this document located on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission website, “[b]ars or similar establishments located in counties that have opted in may operate for in-person service up to 50% of the total listed occupancy inside the bar or similar establishment,” and guests must remained seated if they’re drinking or eating.

Interestingly, no occupancy limit exists for a bar’s (or “similar establishment’s”) outdoor area. Another interesting detail: “the County Judge of each county may choose to opt in with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to allow bars or similar establishments to operate with in-person service.”

That statement relates to Texas’ GA-32 executive order. In counties where Covid-19-related hospitalization rates and case counts meet state requirements, county judges can opt-in to reopen bars. In fact, the TABC features a map—updated daily at 3:00 P.M. CST—that displays the counties in which bars are permitted to open their doors.

Bars are required to stop serving alcohol at 11:00 P.M. but don’t have to close for business or send guests away at that time.

Restrictions are different for Texas restaurants. According to the TABC’s website, “Restaurants may operate for dine-in service up to 75% of the total listed occupancy inside the restaurant; outdoor dining is not subject to an occupancy limit; and restaurant employees and contractors are not counted towards the occupancy limitation. This applies only to restaurants that have less than 51% of their gross sales from alcoholic beverages.”

Per news coverage, the cutoff rule Texas bars operate under doesn’t apply to restaurants, motivating the decision of thousands of bar owners to reopen their businesses as restaurants.

One of the highest-profile ex-Californians who made the move to Texas recently is Joe Rogan. Rogan speaks with Texas native and entrepreneur Richard Rawlings on the most recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Spotify. The subject of California comes up roughly 23 minutes into the discussion, with Rogan calling out California and saying that Californians “are recognizing” that “California itself doesn’t exist as everybody thought of it.”

Rogan goes on to say that California’s government is to blame for the exodus to Texas, saying, “Literally, it’s a case of now we know that if you have poor government, the government can ruin a state.”

He praises Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his approach to Covid-19. In particular, Rogan lauds Gov. Abbott for shutting down the state for a short period of time but allowing businesses to remain open. He mentions that while businesses are still struggling—capacity restrictions, social distancing protocols, mask requirements—at least they’re able to operate.

At around the 24-minute mark, the conversation shifts to restaurants in particular.

You can’t even go eat outside. There’s a 10:00 P.M. curfew in Los Angeles. It’s insane. There’s no science behind it, either. There’s no science that shows that if you get people to stay home after 10:00 P.M. that there’s less transmission,” says Rogan.” There’s no science, nothing. It’s arbitrary decisions that are made by politicians. And that’s the minimum: The outdoor dining thing is the most egregious because you have all these people that spent so much money to try to convert their restaurants and make these outdoor dining [spaces]—spent thousands of dollars that they didn’t even fucking have. They just wanted to stay open, and then they just get shut down.”

Rawlings then references the owner of Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill, Angela Marsden, and the emotional, viral video she posted in response to Los Angeles restaurants being prohibited from offering outdoor dining.

Marsden claimed to have spent $80,000 to comply with L.A. County health requirements and create an outdoor dining area before the restriction was put in place. In the video, she shows a television production crew dining under tents set up next to her outdoor dining area. Ultimately, Marsden had to shut down after running out of funds.

I was pretty pissed off at that one because, you know, we shut down Gas Monkey Bar & Grill for the winter,” says Rawlings. “We’re just hanging out, see what happens.”

Texas hasn’t fully reopened and some may still view some of the state’s Covid-19 rules as arbitrary. However, capacity limitations for bars (up to 50 percent) and restaurants (up to 75 percent) are much more viable for operators.

There are other questions to consider regarding Covid-19 protocols and restrictions. If state lawmakers implement rules that ultimately encourage their residents to flee to other states, does that increase the risk of infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rising in those states? Is America capable of setting aside our divisions and pulling in the same direction to flatten curves nationwide? Are our lawmakers capable of abandoning the arbitrary for the targeted and logical to provide relief and increase the survivability rates of restaurants, bars and other small businesses?

Covid-19 protocols can change in any state at any time, but for now, Texas may serve as the best model for restricted restaurant and bar operations in the United States.

Image: Thomas Park on Unsplash

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