It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, mostly for a definite lack of things to actually say. The pandemic has been really hard on my mental well-being because there was literally nothing to do, and with nothing to do I had nothing to say.
Yes, I would agree that I am one of those people for whom work defines who they are. Whether it is a fault or a blessing… I don’t know. It is what it is and I don’t think it will change for a good long while.
Other than that there isn’t that much that others in food media haven’t said. Restaurants dying from the pandemic? Check. People leaving the industry for good? Check. Restaurant owners complaining they cannot find enough staff while at the same time not paying staff a living wage? Check.
On my part I finally managed to snag a job in the front of house. It’s quiet right now but there is the eternal hope it will improve in the future. The pay is okay at 12 dollars an hour (which is just 25 cents above the current minimum wage in the city) but the tips are supposed to make up for that. I will probably have more to say in this specific matter in the future because in the two weeks I have been employed there I have gotten about 10 dollars in tips total.
The more things change the more they stay the same, do they not?
No matter how hard local and state governments try to spin it or deny it (particularly Republican governors), the third wave of infection in the United States has arrived just as the weather in most of the Midwest has cooled down after what one of the warmest weeks in recent history, which thankfully happened during the election.
But now that’s done and people will be heading indoors. From what I’ve seen a fair amount believe now that the election is done it’s more or less “safe” to be out and about, but that is mere wishful thinking.
The risk is higher than ever.
Because of this governments are starting to take action and one of the first targets is the food service industry:
Minnesota governor Tim Walz will announce bars and restaurants to close at 10 P.M. on Tuesday November 10.
Wisconsin as of right now has nothing planned. The state Supreme Court keeps striking down all efforts of Democrat governor Tony Evers.
North Dakota’s governor, Doug Burgum, has only issued recommendations to reduce capacity but no order has been issued to help prevent virus spread.
South Dakota tried to one-up their neighbors to the north. Governor Kristi Noem went in on a scheme to promote tourism from people frustrated by lockdowns in other states. Her position remains about the same.
Michigan is likely on the verge of a second lockdown. This past week contagion rates skyrocketed. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been very proactive about communicating her plans.
None of this bodes well for any our industry. OpenTable currently has a state-by-state map of restrictions to help clientele navigate the situation but without comprehensive assistance from local, state and federal governments society at large stands to lose a vast amount of bars, restaurants, coffeeshops… ranging from chains like Starbucks and Pizza Hut, to little hole in the wall joints.
From what I hear the rent costs at this intersection have been wildly out of line with the true costs for years now, if what I’ve heard is right. Setting that aside for a moment, there is plenty of story to be had. Heck, someone on streets.mn even did a photo essay of all the vacant storefronts back in 2016.
Not a lot has changed… but with the pandemic some things are definitely changing here
Only Caffrey’s looks like it’ll come out of pandemic closure more or less unscathed.
Most people don’t even think of this corner at this point except for the big ole sign built on its roof:
It’s been empty for years after Milio’s closed. Redfin has it off market and valued around 825K… but doesn’t actually say if anything is being developed anymore.
It’d make a hell of a rooftop if it weren’t for the sign.
Next door to the north you have Moto-i—which does have one hell of a rooftop, and Lyn-Lake Brewery, which also has a great rooftop.
So what now?
The big worry for a lot of people around here is having Lyn-Lake turn into another Uptown. We have heard people refer to this part of town as Uptown and… it just doesn’t sit right, really. The main similarity they’ll have is multiple empty storefronts all over.
It is not one we appreciate. Here is hoping this intersection rebounds sooner rather than later. I’m sure there are more intersections in other cities that have complicated histories and complicated stories.
The restaurant industry in our state is reeling. You can go from basic PR announcements to personal stories, but the facts are stark: Our industry is bleeding dry due to the pandemic and from the looks of it the amount of help we’ll get is going to be severely limited.
All you have to do is look at the federal response.The National Restaurant Association put out a report and the numbers are depressing, to say the least:
Nationwide, sales were down 47% during the period from March 1 to March 22
54% of restaurant operators have switched to off-premises service only
Seven in 10 operators have had to lay off employees and reduce the number of hours worked
Roughly half of them anticipate more layoffs and hourly reductions over the next 30 days
More than six in 10 said they’ve had to reduce their operating hours
As of yesterday I have been furloughed by my employer. Granted, I was working minimal hours as a host, but still… it does hurt the bottom line. Our governor announced basically all places of leisure are to close until March 27, including all restaurants, pubs, breweries, food halls/courts, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation is quite scary for people in food service right now. I can think of at least two restaurants that might not survive being closed down for this long, and that is contingent on the closure not being extended further into the future. In Nevada they’re set to close for 30 days, so that will make for an even harder experience for the industry in that state.
It will be a hard time for everyone. Let us help each other in the industry:
Pickup food from your local food bank, and donate to it when the situation is better.
Apply for unemployment benefits. Check with your employer beforehand as some employers are not being honest or forthcoming about employment status.
Some grocery and big-box stores are hiring temporary help due to the crush of people. Of course, this risks community exposure to possible contagion, which you may or may not want.
If you’re stuck at home, video call your service industry friends. Don’t text or call. A lot of people rely on the job to get their share of social interaction for the day and it helps your mental health to talk with other people in the same situation.