As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to make headlines, even the best-laid plans are up for last-minute changes. Those changes are hitting restaurants hard as they struggle with the effects of reduced travel and government calls to avoid large gatherings. One local restaurateur we talked with today said he’s lost $25,000 in catering cancellations in just the last couple of days. So many of the service industry jobs are hourly employees, sent home if business doesn’t dictate the need.
Open Table sent out an email today saying they are seeing sharp declines in across online reservations, phone reservations, and walk-ins. In the United States and United Kingdom, they see a 20 percent reduction in total seated diners vs. last year. At the city level, diners are down approximately 45 percent in Seattle, 40 percent in San Francisco, 30 percent in New York, and 25 percent in London, Los Angeles, and Chicago. (All declines cited here are on a year-over-year basis.)
Locally many restaurants are scrambling to react to the market, many offering curbside meals:
More from Open Table’s Andrea Johnston, Chief Operating Officer:
To support the restaurants we all love, we’d like to share a few simple things you can do to help your favorite restaurants weather this storm:
- If you have a change of plans, please let the restaurant know as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly. Even cancelling the same day is better than not showing up.
- Order take-out or delivery. It gives the restaurant business and keeps you well fed. Many restaurants that don’t usually offer these options are making exceptions.
- Re-book for a future date—it will give everyone something to look forward to.
- Consider purchasing restaurant gift cards if they’re offered.
- Tip generously if you can afford it. Tipped workers are some of the first to suffer in times of economic distress.