Even though restaurants across the nation are now permitted (at least provisionally) to serve indoors — with customer limits ranging from 25% to 100% of their total seating capacity and with social distancing rules in force — many are still finding it hard to break even, much less make a profit. (These are the restaurant reopening restrictions in every state.)
In late September, representatives of America’s beleaguered food service trade — ranging from the proprietors of small eateries to the chairman of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) — appeared before the House Ways and Means subcommittee in Congress to plead for further federal assistance.
Unfortunately, considering President Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again statements on relief package negotiations and the difficulties both parties are having with finding common ground, it’s likely that, as the NRA reported last week, “Any additional federal financial help for the restaurant industry faces a bumpy path and is unlikely at least before November and probably before January.” (The organization offers restaurateurs advice on dealing with issues related to the pandemic on its Coronavirus Information and Resources website.)
Meanwhile, without government help and facing numerous challenges, restaurants continue to close down permanently all over America. Neither popularity, iconic status, longevity, nor the involvement of celebrity chefs seems to protect establishments from going under.
The 99-year-old Pacific Dining Car in Los Angeles recently closed permanently, for instance; world-renowned chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck has just shut down his third restaurant for reasons related to the pandemic; the Luby’s cafeteria chain, a family favorite all over Texas for almost three-quarters of a century, has liquidated its assets. It would hardly be surprising to see further closings even among the highest rated restaurants in America.
Since May, 24/7 Tempo has been tracking permanent restaurant closures all over the U.S., with updates about every two weeks. This edition of the list covers popular places in 21 states and the District of Columbia. States whose major cities are famous for their food scenes — primarily California, Illinois, and New York — have been particularly badly hit. No corner of the country is immune, however, and new restaurant casualties will doubtless be added to this list almost daily until the COVID-19 crisis is over.