From the voice of the restaurant industry

When I started blogging about restaurants, I thought it’d always be a fun little side hobby. I enjoyed eating out and sharing my experiences. Blogging has always been a nice mental release for me to sit at a computer and type my thoughts away.

Over the years, I’ve built so many relationships and friendships with people in the restaurant industry. I also have been fortunate to meet many other owners, servers, bartenders, chefs who have taught me so much and opened my eyes on top of all my personal experiences having worked in the industry.

What turned out to be a fun little side hobby has been quite depressing over the past week. I’ve had friends, acquaintances and other people lose jobs, struggle, fight through the unknown, lay off their employees and more. After chatting with one of them, I said….. “Why don’t you write what you’re thinking? Blogging has been a mental release for me and it could be healthy for you.” That person obliged and I wanted to share their piece.

From the moment you open the door and we say hello, you are invited into our “homes” for us to take care of you and treat you like family. No matter the size or type of restaurant, from a mom-and-pop to a multi-unit chain restaurant, it is what we as restaurateurs, servers, cooks, bussers and dishwashers have signed up for in a job.

To do our best to take care of you and hope that for a moment you are free to escape. This escape comes in many different forms, it might be an escape by having a father-daughter lunch at McDonald’s, escape by having dinner and a glass of wine after an extremely rough day at work while traveling on the road. Even to escape while talking with family and friends after the death of a close loved one, we have seen it all. No matter the reason you called upon us; we are always there to answer the call.

We in the restaurant world signed up to make that happen, we signed up to serve you.

Many customers taken it for granted, they expect for us to be there for them no matter what. They expect us to be there to say hello. They expect those doors to open, so they can use us for their escape. And for the first time, we’re not… none of us.

Sure, the building and sign may still be there but the heart and soul that makes each restaurant tick is gone and it saddens me to think how many will never be back.

As I told a friend today, it’s the first time since closing last week I have had time to be sad. I have been busy trying to take care of things at the store for when we reopen. I have been getting staff all set to file for unemployment, contacting vendors, local farmers we get product from, letting them know we will be taking a pause for now but will be back and even stronger and busier than before. That’s what we are telling them and ourselves, but the reality is its just not true.

I keep hearing “they are a big restaurant they will be fine” or “I’m sure they have plenty of money”.

What people don’t understand is just how many restaurants are locally owned and how truly hard they are to keep open daily. Yes, they could be a chain that has some reserve cash for hard times. But they are still locally owned by a person that lives here in our community and that person hires here from within our community. They could even be someone you know. What about all the real “local mom-and-pop” places? How do you think they will survive? When margins are tight enough as it is and most of these shops are living weekend sales to weekend sales just to pay the bills before they pay themselves, if they do at all that week or longer. Will they ever recover?

When making my calls before closing, I called all my sales reps to let them know what we decided. They all knew why I was calling in the first place but to hear their voices and how orders went down 50% less in one week, it just broke my heart know it would be getting worse as weeks go on. Not just for the salespeople but for the people it trickled down to: the drivers that brought our food to us weekly, the workers in the warehouses loading the food will be laid off since no orders are coming in, the farmers I get fresh produce from weekly will no longer be getting that check from me they depend on. Not to mention the possible waste since it all came to a halt without warning. It kills me to think about how many hundreds if not thousands of restaurant families have lost their jobs just due to these closings. How many of these restaurateurs, servers, cooks, bussers and dishwashers will never be there again.

When the dust finally settles and we get back to our routines, be sure to not take for granted those doors you open to come in and escape the world and how many people down the line it takes to keep those doors open.

We love what we do and just can’t wait to get back to doing it. And when the time comes you walk through our doors, I get to say hello again and welcome you to our home.

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