One of the industries that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown of American businesses is the food service trade. In just the first three weeks of March, restaurant sales nationally plummeted 47%. This is due largely to the fact that restaurants all over America are now temporarily limited to providing dine-out services only. (This rule has been applied by the governments of every state except South Dakota, according to a guide to state coronavirus lockdowns published Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.)
Many of these restaurants are carrying on as best they can, providing customers with food and drink on an off-premises basis, with even fancy restaurants offering take-out and delivery during the coronavirus crisis.
Other places are simply hunkering down for the duration of the crisis, furloughing or firing all or most of their employees and waiting for the moment they’re permitted to reopen. Others have converted themselves into community kitchen operations to feed the needy. But not all establishments will survive the pandemic, no matter what they do.
Because restaurants tend to operate with substantial debt and on small profit margins at the best of times, a long-term closure inevitably means death to some. According to a survey conducted in late March by the National Restaurant Association, 3% of operators reported that they had already permanently shuttered their eateries, while 11% of the remainder said that they might well close within the next 30 days.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of 35 popular restaurants in 25 states that will not be reopening when restrictions are lifted (as they already have been in a handful of states). These include everything from a classic hot dog joint to a unit of a nationwide chain to one of Manhattan’s most famous fine-dining venues. Some of these had barely gotten started when the shut-down orders came, while others had been around for many decades.
In a few cases, the restaurants probably would have closed soon anyway for other reasons, but the pandemic hastened their demise. In other cases, the owners ran the numbers and realized it wouldn’t make sense to reopen — that they would never be able to make up for lost revenue.
Unfortunately, this list will almost certainly continue to grow as the crisis drags on and restaurants that had originally planned to reopen realize that they, too, must shut down for good. These are just more examples of how the coronavirus will harm GDP and businesses in 2020.