Top restauranteur Rohini Dey has warned in a new op-ed at CNN that 80 percent of all restaurants could close down, even after the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has passed, due to the fallout from the crisis. The message comes as the U.S. economy continues to suffer from the effects of COVID-19, with the latest data estimating that over 33 million Americans have lost their jobs.
Dey is a well-known figure in the restaurant scene, and one of the few female restauranteurs in the industry. In addition to operating several restaurants that have been praised by the likes of Travel & Leisure, Bon Appetit, and Town & Country, she has also previously worked both as an economist at the World Bank and as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.
Dey began her opinion piece with the dire proclamation that restaurants will need a “miracle” to survive both the pandemic and post-pandemic life.
“Though we restaurateurs have faith in our creativity and resilience, the prognosis is dire,” she wrote.
“Some 1,400 of us responded to a recent survey by the Beard Foundation and the Independent Restaurant Coalition. It predicted that months of closings, mounting debt and diminished capacity will kill perhaps 80 percent of America’s independent restaurants,” she added.
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Though Dey acknowledged that the coronavirus stimulus packages were offering some relief, she added that it would likely not be enough to save the industry, especially when considering new public attitudes toward dining out.
Dey cited a new study that claimed that 68 percent of customers will avoid returning to restaurants until the development of vaccine, which could take years. In addition, of those who do return to eat in restaurants, 20 percent claimed they would remain “nervous” due to the potential health risks.
“The grim reality for now is that restaurants — even ones that can partially reopen — will limp along and over time the attrition will be severe. No amount of pivot to grocery, delivery, curbside or ghost kitchens is an adequate fix,” she wrote.
— James Beard Foundation (@beardfoundation) May 6, 2019
Moreover, Dey emphasized that the loss of restaurants would not just mean fewer nights out, but also a serious hit on the economy.
Dey claimed that restaurants are a “mega-industry” in the country, making up a mammoth 10 percent of the workforce in addition to generating around $1 trillion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She also discussed how restaurants are essential for the growth of metropolitan areas, calling them the “throbbing pulse of our cities.”
Though many restaurants have begun attempts to reopen as states loosen lockdown restrictions, new obstacles in the industry have been well-documented. For example, McDonald’s franchise locations have received a new nearly 60-page “guide” on new dining room regulations, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.