It is impossible to gauge when things will be back to normal. Optimists say weeks while pessimists are saying the old normal is gone for good. However one feels about it the recovery, the shutdown in response to the coronavirus devastated the restaurant industry here in Florida, around the country and around the world. Some major players in the local market will likely not recover or open up, and there are reports of national chains not renewing leases. Small independently owned bars or restaurants will likely suffer the worst, with lower margins and fewer resources to sustain an extended shutdown.
Florida did not get hit as severely as some states, but the numbers from industry advocates are nonetheless daunting:
- Then: The state’s restaurant industry had 42,275 eating and drinking locations in 2019.
- Then: The state’s restaurant industry earned an estimated $52.5 billion in sales in 2019.
- Then: There were 1,090,800 restaurant and food service jobs, which made up 12% of the state’s employment pool.
After the shutdown
- Now: 41% of restaurants closed their doors.
- Now: 87% of restaurants furloughed or laid off 598,000 employees.
- Now: The industry lost about $3.5 billion and counting from the shutdown.
The state has reopened on-premises dining with restrictions. There were also small business loans available in limited quantities, but it leaves many with too little or nothing at all. There is no state tax relief at this time, nor is there a statewide moratarium on evictions (although some areas have them in place).
The best we can hope for is that the crowds come back and precautions keep customers and staff safe. Floridians are survivors who rise to a challenge, but restaurants and their staff are certainly facing an unprecedented test.