“I was literally about to start the process of trying to set up my restaurant this year, and this all happened,” says Sarah Moody. Commiserating in a similar catch-22 is Yuka Ioroi, co-owner of San Francisco’s Cassava restaurant. “Although there’s no way we can make ends meet with takeouts, I would never be able to live with myself if my restaurant caused anybody to get sick, or god forbid death.”
Ioroi continues, “We have no plans to do any table service including outside at least until the rest of this year.” Instead, the enterprising founder is attempting to launch Cassava En Route, a meal delivery service.
In Ohio, the most recent poll by the Ohio Restaurant Association found that 54% of restaurateurs anticipate forced closure within nine months. The prior week’s number was 31%; the Association conducts its poll weekly of 107 Ohio bars and restaurants.
The Association’s pollsters also reported that only 30% of Ohio restaurants believe they can operate for more than a year or indefinitely at their current capacity. (Only 11% are operating at more than 75% capacity.)
In the U.K., restaurants have ended 22,039 jobs from the start of the year through August 4. That figure is already 95% higher than all 11,280 U.K. restaurant job losses reported during 2019.
“Do people realize how many restaurants are owned by people who put their life savings into a business that now will be stuck with only 25% of their normal revenue,” asks one patron. Another restaurateur agrees, “I will decide to put my restaurant on hold for several months and see next year. I will release my staff for this year.”
All the way in South Africa, the owner of Ukhamba Restaurant tweeted with conviction on April 10, “I will open my restaurant this year!” Due to restrictions on reopening and a collapse in financing, her only progress toward that goal is vision boarding.
Restaurant workers are also suffering. Katy Shee describes a situation that represents the plight of millions, “Once again, my restaurant is closing, and I need a new job. Last year it took me 6 months in a booming economy. How long do y’all suppose it’ll take this year? During a pandemic? In a trash economy? With my industry unsupported?” Another worker agrees, “I can’t believe they just permanently shut down my restaurant this year. Literally cannot get any worse.”
When asked about their forecast for the ultimate number of COVID-19 deaths for 2020 in the U.S. population, about 75% of the country’s largest life insurers indicated in early July that they expect up to 250,000 deaths in a baseline scenario, and up to one million deaths in a worst case scenario.