On this episode of The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia and Mike Whatley, Vice President, State and Local Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, discussed the wide range of challenges facing restaurants during this period of reopening and efforts being made to help owners and operators address them.

In particular, the duo tackled how restaurants should best prepare for the upcoming holiday boom, legislation, reaching out at the state and local level to acquire necessary resources, and the importance of outdoor dining during this period, which currently accounts for nearly half of full-service operators’ sales.

“We would like to report better news right now, but the simple truth is it’s still a very challenging time for operators across the country,” Whatley said. “We did a survey in late August looking at the climate and asked folks, ‘How is business doing?’

“August was worse for them than July for more operators than not, and we haven’t even gotten into the fall at that point [and into] the increase in cases that we’re seeing.”

The National Restaurant Association’s most recent operator survey indicates that 100,000 restaurants have closed since March, a number that accounts for one-sixth of the industry.
Operators’ main concerns right now boil down to increased costs on a variety of fronts, including money spent to retrofit operations and buy new supplies, expenses surrounding the outdoor dining options diners are demanding, and sinking revenues.

There are efforts underway to help these operators, including Restaurants Act, which aims to be “a go-to resource for the entire industry, providing a comprehensive look at information and resources at the federal, state, and local levels.”

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