State of the Restaurant industry 2021 – by Chef K.

State of the Restaurant industry 2021 – by Chef K.

The world is undergoing a systematic restructuring. Not a Great Reset, or a Leap Forward. A re-prioritizing of life, all politics aside.

If we had started the glide into work from home 20 years ago when it really became possible to do so, people wouldn’t be going through this awkward phase where they find themselves crash landed into it. Everyone’s schedules are thrown off and they are trying to figure out how to run things outside the generally accepted principals of the past 100 years.

For a year, most of them have only known home/shopping/outside. They have cycled out of the normal patterns associated with commuting. With heavy schedule keeping. No after school activities, no faith-based activities, very few extracurricular activities. And it’s a real quandary for what to do when we filled our schedules to the max before the pandemic.

Now, Fridays and Saturdays, they are flooding downtown here. Monday mornings can be perky too. But T-Th, it’s the cold death of space out our door. Nothing and nobody.

Traditionally,  office workers would hit us on the way into the office and at lunch. Well, no one’s coming in to work, and they aren’t traveling downtown to get lunch. We run 2 people, myself included T-Th, and 4 people F-S. 3 on Mondays unless it’s raining, as there are still plenty of people traveling over the weekends.

 However, if you aren’t located next to or in a shopping center, you’re not seeing daily traffic. Which means your employees (current and prospective) aren’t traveling that way either.

It’s a very odd, unique time right now as people figure out priorities and standards. And also remember, retail & fast food(kroger/walmart/mcdonald’s/etc…) were able to pay bonuses during the pandemic due to increased sales. Restaurants were laying people off left and right. That left a mark on the industry. Suddenly the normally easy cash they relied on for a boost to the bottom line (holidays, birthdays, bills to pay off) was no longer reliable. Servers especially. With the move to take out only, they – even the most dynamic and requested – became expendable. And if they do come back, it’s a totally different feel during a shift. The 2 hour lunch rush now comes in a half hour, and the rest of the time is taken up by one or two tables. At best. Take out orders at worst.

The reliability of picking up extra shifts to pay for that vacation is gone. The kids that were in school while you picked up lunch shifts, that’s gone too. Now there is a 50/50 chance your kids – and everyone else’s – are actually in school. So call it childcare insecurities. Lots of insecurities extend from this situation, and the restaurant industry was in no position to acclimate to them. And is struggling to find its own feet in all this.

And if you consider how much of our lives are touched by people who work in and around the industry, you get the feeling that this situation is only the visible part of the iceberg. There are people who are having the same restructuring in all fields and professions. The local federal courts are going to continue Zoom trials after the pandemic is declared over. They are finding it to be an easier managed situation for both parties, as well as reducing court costs. Telemedicine is certainly going nowhere, so how much office staff does a doctor need?

Even teachers aren’t assured anything at this point, as public schools are seeing record enrollment drops and saving a ton on building costs and maintenance.

Leases, contracts, corporate fleet buying, school nutrition contracts…

We really haven’t begun to deal with all aspects of this restructuring.

In all things, do what good you can where you can and when you can, but shore up your own base first so you’re in a position to help.

177 thoughts on “State of the Restaurant industry 2021 – by Chef K.

  1. Locally, the restaurants have opened and are as close to capacity as they are allowed to get. One ha made a recovery, the other has lost some business but is getting lunch traffic. (Small town in Southern TN).
    Of the local fast food joints, only Subway has opened its dining room. All the others are still takeout only and most are still drive through only. McDonald’s only opened the lobby last week.
    On the flip side, one of my husband’s tax clients commented he needs workers, bad, but people aren’t out looking because they’re still managing (somehow) on stimulus payments.
    I can’t help thinking we’ve been thrown into boot camp – take away everything, tear everyone down, then rebuild them. Except, how do you rebuild people when you’re afraid to put things back together.

    1. It’s not hard to “manage” when you aren’t paying rent/mortgage or utilities since you can’t be evicted.

      1. I just can’t stop wondering what’s going to happen when all those pent-up home evictions finally start pouring through the courts. Want to bet that the Democratic-controlled Congress will bail out the teeming masses of deadbeats who could have paid their rent but simply refused? Either cash payments at enormous taxpayer expense or an outright rent jubilee at the expense of all the hard-working landlords who had to keep paying their own mortgages with no rental income.

        1. But you see, the landlord class are all pernicious greedheads and oppressors of the downtrodden, twirling their Snidely Whiplash mustaches and rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation of turning families out onto the street. So screw ’em.

          That’s the attitude around here.

          The couple-three people I know who actually own a rental property or two on the side have been keeping their mouths shut.

          (The fact that most of the people with the above attitudes are lifelong renters in Seattle who neither had the perspicacity to buy when the buying was good — like me — or were willing to move somewhere that houses/condos are cheap is not lost on me.)

          1. Of course, the coming bulge of foreclosures through the court on the landlords who are out all the rent and utilities… the renters don’t think that far ahead. Nor do the politicians.

            1. See my theory above…the government will keep this going until all the small landlords sell out to large REITs, who can afford lobbyists to keep it going and then to get a Congressional bailout.

          2. I was? Why didn’t someone tell me I needed the mustache when I had a rental property?

            Needless to say, I was ECSTATIC when the house we’d been renting sold in Dec-2019. Especially once I heard about the “no evictions” stuff.

            I just wonder how many landlords are going to just up and walk away from their properties before this is all over. I’d think the smaller landlords are probably the ones (at least initially) getting hit hardest by this, the ones with one or maybe two rental units.
            Bigger property owners are probably looking at what’s involved in getting out, one way or another (I predict, as I’d suspect most are some sort of corporation / LLC, LOTS of bankruptcy filings in the pipeline.) Followed by leftists crying for laws to PREVENT them from being able to get out from under these burdens and MAKE them keep maintaining the properties that they’ve not been getting paid for the use others are getting out of them.

            Hmm, isn’t there a word, or a phrase that applies to being made to do something for no compensation?
            It’s right there on the tip of my tongue…

            1. The law can “require” all it wants, but it cannot conjure paint, drywall, and nails out of thin air.

              I’ve managed low-end properties when I was broke to get a cut on my rent. The level of destruction that was considered normal was appalling. It was nearly as appalling as the level of entitlement (ask me about my one eviction sometime).

              Like teachers, the squatters who are living it up not paying rent deserve the slums they will create from their entitlement.

              1. . The level of destruction that was considered normal was appalling.

                Amen.

                And then they get pissy about the deposit.

                Every place we rented was in better condition when we left than when we got there; only once did we not get teh entire deposit back, and that illegal. (We didn’t know it at the time– the deposit cannot be taken for a mandatory cleaning fee.)

              2. /SARC
                Well then if the landlord won’t use their own savings and run up their personal credit cards to purchase the things necessary to keep the property up, then they OBVIOUSLY shouldn’t be allowed to keep it and instead our benevolent government will TAKE it from them (and hand it over to some politicians’ crony / best friend / wife / husband / biggest donor) and give it to someone who WILL!
                /END SARC

                Thankfully, we never had anyone trash the house we rented and only had to do some minimal fixups and cleanups when a tenant moved out (no evictions, either.) Still had most of a gallon of the paint used before we started renting, which made the touch-ups even easier…

                1. Oh, your sarc is exactly what I think is intended many places, plus a bailout of “unpaid rent” even to people who purchased it after many months of unpaid rent and thus suffered no injury.

                  The libertarians are right; government is just another gang that has conned us into being associate members (all the responsibilities, none of the benefits).

                  1. Oh yeah, that’s the take I have in Oregon. Added to the fact that the idiots in the capitol are trying to outdo Botox Nancy for sheer power grabs. The U of Oregon / OR State U football game used to be called te Civil War before the forces of Woke got a say. They ain’t seen nothing once the flyover counties get fed up with Salem and Portlandia.

                    1. I keep hearing “once people get feed up”.

                      Yet we’re going to have vaccine passport s by May.

                      At this point I’ll believe it when it happens. Until then I’ll conclude the USA is too fat, dumb, and lazy on average to provide a critical mass who care about freedom at all, much less enough to take the risks needed to get it back.

            2. Of course the small landlords are getting hit harder: they’re the ones closer to the margins, living close to the bone to make payments on the mortgage the took out for their rental. The big corporate landlords (as Donald Trump was) are the stakeholders with access to capital, the people who know how to play the bank game to refinance mortgage loans and roll over the losses on their taxes.

              A couple weeks back the NY Post had an article about a woman, the first in her family to own real estate, who had bought a duplex in town with the intention of renting one side and living in the other … and who is now sleeping in her car or on friends’ couches because she rented out one side and the side she’d intended to move into, which her tenant was scheduled to vacate, is not available because the tenant is refusing to leave, won’t pay rent and cannot be evicted.

              IT is the small holders, the folk trying to get that first step up the ladder of the American Dream, the people who take loving care of their properties because those represent their futures (as opposed to just one of many units annually trashed by tenants) who are getting kicked in the teeth by this, who are proving the Progs’ argument that the American Dream is a lie (because the Progs will do all they can to make it a lie).
              ~

                  1. Methinks there’s gonna be a whole lot of friction fires in the next few years… (caused by friction between the insurance and the mortgage).

        2. I just can’t stop wondering what’s going to happen when all those pent-up home evictions finally start pouring through the courts

          Me, too.

          It’s going to seriously screw with housing markets.

          1. But the Seattle City Clowncil just passed an ordinance guaranteeing a free attorney to anyone getting evicted. So don’t worry, I’m sure the courts won’t get tied up for decades on this mess or anything.

        3. Nothing…at least not until the majority of small landlords can’t afford mortgage and maintenance when there is no rent coming in have sold to large REITs.

          Then the REITs will get bailed out on the back rent by Congress.

      2. I wouldn’t want to be a private landlord in Greater Seattle. They may have to walk away from their properties.

    2. Believe I heard this on California Insider this week…. guest said that’s literally what’s going on, mainly under the political control of Tom Steyer (apparently doing major string-pulling on Gavin Newsom) … that backroom policy being “We will not reopen the state until we can rebuild it entirely to ‘green’ standards.”

      You gotta wonder where these billionaire hedge funders think their money came from.

  2. I wasn’t doing much before the pandemic because I have had to deal with a lower immune system for eighteen years now. However, I used to go to lunch sometimes. Here in LV you can find a few restaurants open– mostly cheap to mid-level. I can tell that more people are moving about because in May of last year I could go to my dialysis center and only see a few cars. Now the traffic are almost normal levels. I don’t know how that would translate to restaurants. I do know that a couple days ago I went to “Inn and Out Burger” and waited 20 minutes to get through the drive-thru line. So maybe the fast food industry is doing slightly better than the normal sit-down restaurants.

    1. Far better. In this, as in the rest of the business, the Big Corps are making out like a bandit and the small locals are struggling. One of the things about McD’s no one notices is often the person you talk to at the drive up menu is not even in the same state. Some Wendy’s and Hardee’s are the same. There are rooms full of offsite workers taking orders for places around the nation.

    2. Fast food joints do not “waste” money on expensive in-house dining. Their property footprint is lower and they avoid costly maintenance.

      One thing people tend to forget is that few restaurants have “excessive” dining space. If they are not running near capacity at their peak hours – 11:30 – 1:30 lunch, 6:00 – 8:00 diner – they’re getting hurt. Especially in cities like Boston, NY, Philadelphia and Washington, DC the rental cost per square foot for retail space is prohibitive; if a restaurant is not turning money on every square foot it is getting hurt. All that room you see when you grab an off-hours bite is not excess capacity, it is vitally needed for a business model based on rush hour traffic.

      And few restaurants have big profit margins, probably not even The French Laundry, because the expenses are generally high. Yes, they mark-up the extras, like wine, drinks and desserts – but they don’t move as much of that as you’d guess.

      It has been many years since I’ve seen figures, but as I recall for fast food places they do 70% of their business between 11:00 – 2:00 M-F. For traditional dining I think the expectation is they get over half their sales on Friday and Saturday too indifferent to searchengine that, but feel free to do so and correct me) – and cannot survive being capped at 25% capacity during those critical periods – their “overflow” cannot be shifted to Tuesday evening..
      ~

  3. We moved to New Hampshire a year ago, a couple of weeks after the shutdowns happened. Restaurants have been open at reduced capacity for quite a while and we’ve been doing our part to support them by eating out 3 times a week. Such a sacrifice 🙂 So I don’t know how the current customer load compares to before the pandemic. Things were less shutdown here than other places, and I think that makes a big difference. Somebody recently was complaining that some workers are still not back because the unemployment is still more than they were taking home.

    Such a huge, stupid economic experiment. The negative effects will still be echoing decades from now I’m sure. It particularly tipped the scales in favor of big national businesses and against small business. I also worry that having done shutdowns and gotten away with them, it will become just another tool in the wanna-be totalitarians’ tool kits. People are buying the “new variants” bullshit, and have become trained to be fearful of being in public without masks and “social distancing”.

    1. I realized a while ago that we were very fortunate last year. We couldn’t do our regular summer trip, but we found volunteer projects in states that stayed relatively open -Wisconsin was one of them, at least outside the big cities. Restaurants were mostly open, so were stores. We didn’t hit serious covidiocy (as in, “say what?”), ironically, until we reached Mississippi. But it was Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi, which explains it. They didn’t allow in-store dining until October.

      1. WI Gov tried to, but got blocked by the Senate and Court so he was not able to give the surrounding state morons a run for their money. The one Mexican place here had just opened a second location on the WI side of the border and likely that has kept them a going concern. The MI location is now operating, but the place looks empty every time I drive past.

        1. Oregon got whiplash, at least once. The “two week” shutdoen in March ’20 kept restauramts at takeout until May. Then 25% capacity until September when it went to takeout until, er, late Jan/early Feb, with extra silliness of random shutdowns for counties with “extreme” Covid “numbers”. Not sure if Oregon Health Authority dropped the cycles below 40–transparency is another victim of the shutdowns.

          And hoe OHA wants to do perma-mask mandating because reasons.

          The taqueria always did a good takeout business, but it used to e packed at lunch. The Chinese place we went to never opened the dining room, so beyond the kitchen staff, there are now only 1-2 workers handling takeout. It’s a fairly large place–not sure it can stay open.

          OTOH, the diner that defied TPTB after the second shutdown is doing fine. The city is the market center for a largely agricultural/rural county, so lunch and breakfast can do well. Didn’t hurt that the county health people told the state to enforce their own damned edicts.

          FWIW, the Dairy Queen never opened its dining, at least through the end of February. Takeout/driveup was so-so, but it was Winter.

          1. DQ here is still closed to going inside not just dining, as is Hardees, McD’s BK, and Arby’s (the WI joints, MI McD’s and BK I think are the same drive up only. Subways on either side are open to walk-in but are takeout only, as is the Cousin’s Subs, but those always were 90% takeout or with Cousin’s, Delivery.
            One sitdown place here has struggled with trying to operate under Whitless the Wonder Gov, and had outdoor seating by closing the street along side the place. I’ve not gone down town so I don’t know what they did for winter or if they are still at it.

            1. Food issues keep me away-ish from fast food, but McDs was open for indoor pickup, while Jerk in the Box was driveup at Thanksgiving. (Favorite taqueria had the kitchen staff go down with Winnie the Flu.) Roughly that time, BK was open at reduced. At least one of the two McDs in town picked the occasion to remodel the dining room. Mid February, the Denney’s had outdoor dining, the time I saw it, no takers. Not too many outdoor venues–4000′ elevation in winter will do that, even though we had little snow.

              The hard part was Despicable Kate Brown’s ($SPOUSE calls her Kate the Commie) “improvement” from total indoor shutdown to the two-week conditional decisions. Add in the Kovid Karens calling in OR-OSHA complaints when management isn’t draconian enough on face diapers, and it’s a miracle any of the small eateries survived. (Makes note to get a lunch omelette at one of the diners–they got K-Karened badly and had to drop to takeout early on.)

              1. a Karen was whinging about Cousin’s place not enforcing staff face napkins and someone replied “Everyone is wearing them every time I go in, several times a week”

    2. So the office I worked at was at the edge of Boston’s North End. It essentially has 3 industries
      1) Food (mostly Italian)
      2) Tourism such as Paul Revere’s House, Old North Church, and the USS Constitution which is a few blocks away
      3) FIlm/Tv because there are sections of the North end that externally look like 1910 to 1930’s US city buildings AND if you point the camera towards the harbor there are no tall buildings (nothing in the north end may be taller than the spire of the old north church..) so it can easily play any US city of that period with a little stage dressing (and being careful not to catch things landing at Logan in scene).

      I went in one Saturday recently to get my stuff out of the office. The North end is effectively dead. Some restaurants (pizza joints etc) are alive, but barely. There was outdoor dining until September, but that’s not really an option in New England late September through most of April. Tourism is precluded by the state rules on quarantine. And NO ONE is shooting much TV or Movie at present and certainly no travel to locations other than sound stages (see tourism same issue). Lot’s of businesses have (like the one I work for) realized that they really don’t need that pricey lease in Boston, a small suburban office (or none at all) will suffice. Even after the idiots decide we can move around again Boston is going to be a ghost town. Restaurant and office space was already a glut on the market in Boston before Wu Flu as they’ve been exuberantly over building since the end of Bush the Youngers tenure. I’ll bet lots of cities are going to look like that in late 2021 and 2022.

      1. Combined with cities run by Democrats demonizing law enforcement and basically deciding to make them safe havens for criminals, expect a lot of cities, especially downtown areas, to look like Escape From New York.

        1. Yeah Boston wasn’t totally screwed with Mayor Marty Walsh, but the new temp Mayor (with Walsh off to be Labor Secretary) looks like a serious looney tune from her time as a City Councilor. Yet another *&^%ing community organizer. Boston is headed down the tubes hard.

          1. Sad. Boston is an – interesting – town. Love the history there, and (some of the) amenities (The Boston Museum of Science, forex); not so enthused about the polity. Got my life threatened twice in one day, once for wearing the wrong headgear and once for playing darts with a young red-headed woman.

      2. Our local city (20K, S Central OR) was already hurting. Before Chinavirus, restaurants were doing OK, but stores/offices of any size had lots of vacancies. After Chinavirus, I expect to notice more empty restaurants, though the rural nature of the county will help the non-downtown places a bit, at least during the day.

        Doordash is doing really well. One wonders just how much they are bribing contributing to favorite charities of the people who make the restaurant capacity/closure decisions.

        At least we don’t have the defundamentals, and the sheriff is quietly enforcing the laws outside the city.

          1. Not always elected officials; plenty of bureaucrats are involved in the various regulations.

            It’s the state health authority that wants to make the face diaper mandate permanent because reasons. Granted, the elected officials could override, but the bureaucrats are given a lot of free rope rein to do damage. (Wistful thoughts about the struck out term.)

    3. Socialists, Fascists, and other tyrants prefer big businesses.

      Even those fuzzy, lovable social democrats prefer big corporations over small businesses. When you can get the people who drink wine and the people who drink scotch in one room and know what they decide will be enforced as policy by the latter’s corporations and unions without the former’s governments having to intervene, social democrats are very happy.

      1. Small business owners can do what Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop has done: stand up for his rights. A big corporation is easily pressured by activists and government bureaucrats and will readily don the leash proffered it.
        ~

    4. Yep. If we are not still requiring masks come November, the first bout of flu will set it all off again.

      And there is no scenario I can think of that is more amenable to the big boys getting bigger. And the richest get richer

    5. The good news is that sometimes I have seen people waiting for tables at restaurants here.

      The bad news is — not that often.

  4. wandered over to my cousin’s farcebook page to see what is up with his place, and looks like they are still open. Owning a restaurant under Whitless the Wonder Gov is not easy

    1. Yes, Michigan, where some thoughtful soul last summer was posting, “My Governor Is An Idiot,” signs by the side of the road.

      1. Across the street from my neighborhood, someone still has one of those up (and I think I’ve seen others around elsewhere.) I was tempted the other week when I saw someone outside the house to holler over about the sign “You’re RIGHT!”

        OK, anyone want to take a bet, right here, right now?
        I got $5 Whitmer the witless gets re-elected, barring the FICUS getting 25thed and The Hoe becoming Pres and tapping Whitmer for something.

        1. The sad part is I wonder how hard it will be. She’ll get (or at least claim) massive majorities in Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor and maybe Pontiac, and probably ride the, “re-elect me or the insurrectionists will win!” hobbyhorse as hard as she can. (Those protesters of a year ago being transformed into “insurrectionists,” because they had guns).

            1. The ones who ‘invaded’ the Michigan state capitol did. No guns were drawn, nobody was threatened, but they were armed.

              1. The people who were armed were legally armed; apparently Michigan law allows lawful firearms owners to carry in the state capitol building.

              2. Going armed into the state capital was perfectly legal in Michigan at the time. There has been a 2A March in September there every year for ages. I used to take my kids to it. Now we’ll have to march around the damn building and then go put our guns back in our vehicles if we want to visit our reps in the building. SO. ANNOYING.

          1. Pretty sure Traverse City tends blue, as does Marquette (Northern Michigan Univ) So sadly, not very hard at all, and minimal fraud needed…

  5. I realized a while ago that we were very fortunate last year. We couldn’t do our regular summer trip, but we found volunteer projects in states that stayed relatively open -Wisconsin was one of them, at least outside the big cities. Restaurants were mostly open, so were stores. We didn’t hit serious covidiocy (as in, “say what?”), ironically, until we reached Mississippi. But it was Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi, which explains it. They didn’t allow in-store dining until October.

    1. Yeah. A lot of those restaurants depended on the tourist business, which crashed. I suspect that the more tourist dependent areas of NH also had a harder time. I live in the southern part which isn’t very touristy.

    2. My kids get sentimental about their favorite restaurants. Even here in Florida there have been a few nice days completely wrecked because we drove by a favorite eating spot only to notice it was closed permanently. I’m actually a little surprised how many places managed to stay open to tell the truth.

      I’m just happy Hotdog Heaven managed to stay open. THAT would have been a bad day for one of the kiddos. Not too worried though, most Saturdays if we don’t get there early there is a line half-way to the street. Darn good Chicago dogs!

      1. A good local restaurant is gold. Two of my favorites had closed years before the pandemic (a coffee shop run by expat Scots who acted just like cartoon caricatures of Scots, and a Thai restaurant whose matriarch owner who treated my toddler daughter like one of her grandchildren, and frequently carried her back into the kitchen so the patriarch chef could see her).

        You can’t really get that experience from a chain. The investment’s not there.

  6. I have zero, zilch, nada sympathy. What are all these business associations (chamber of commerce, tavern league, business improvement districts, etc…) FOR if not to stand up for their members? Where are the form letters to local officials that should have been handed out with every furlough, layoff and firing? If restaurants and bars are happy to roll over and let the government put them out of business, who am I to object by spending my money there?
    having done shutdowns and gotten away with them, it will become just another tool
    Exactly this. There is a new scary “pandemic” every two or three years. One would have to be an idiot to open a service business in this environment. These businesses are not coming back – and the ones that try are just going to go broke later rather than sooner.

    The time to stand and object has long since passed.

    1. Did you object every time the county board of health closed down a restaurant for unsanitary conditions, or a restaurant’s application for a liquor license was denied over the last 80 years ? No? Then maybe look in the mirror and learn some humility. More-or-less-arbitrary closures of restaurants by TPTB has been a feature of American life since the New Deal, and objecting to it will just ensure that the restaurateur never works again.

    2. I have little sympathy for those business owners in New York who voted for tyrant idiots like Cuomo and DeBlasio and are now facing the consequences of electing those who either utterly corrupt and power hungry, communist, or both.

      Vote for commies, don’t complain when they commie your business out of existence.

        1. In New York City; a lot. DeBlasio isn’t even the most radical of the leftists, just look at the ones who dominate the city council, and establishment Democrats who control the vote counting apparatus have been getting crushed in primaries by openly socialist/communist candidates

          1. DeBlasio was, as I recall, among the most moderate of candidates on offer — which says a lot about how cancerous the body politic of NY has become. There is an election coming up for his replacement and, nightmarish as it sounds, a third DeBlasio term would probably be less harmful than any of the candidates likely to win. With the city having adopted “Ranked Choice” voting you ca be confident the winner will be rank indeed.
            ~

  7. LA County ordered all of the restaurants to close their tables right before the holiday season. The City of Pasadena told the County to buzz off (which it can legally do because the city has its own health department), no doubt in part because the City Council was concerned about the loss of businesses and income. But then the State sent out a similar order.

    1. Due process in these shutdown cases should have included guaranteed average income as compensation for their seizure of their business; as forced closure IS a seizure of control of that business. Since the states didn’t offer that, those businesses should have reopened; and then met anyone who tried to shut them down with a loaded shotgun.

      1. Most adequately insured businesses carry coverage for losses due to closure from “unanticipatable” cause, say a fire in the nearby shopping center that forces their closure for a month. Early on some business columnists advocated just such a route for making lockdown losses whole. The work had already been done for determination of benefits; the government merely needed to declare this pandemic a coverable event and directed cash to the insurance companies to provide liquidity and cover losses. Easy-peasy!

        Trump should have recognized this and acted – it is too much to expect our congress-critters to have the sense to act on this, especially the Democrat members. Failure to act on this is likely to be a topic in various texts in years to come.
        ~

  8. While not targeting restaurants, the ProAct is set up to shutdown the gig economy and freelancing. Just like California’s AB5 which it’s based off.

    Team Blue doesn’t know what to do with a distributed economy they can’t extort for campaign contributions, so they’re going to drag us kicking and screaming back to the 1930s.

    1. AB5 is the worst. “It’s designed to do X.” “It’s actually going to hit Y, Z, and W more.” “You’re just trying to make excuses for X.” *law is enacted, hits Y, Z, and W* *X campaigns to get exemptions* “Nobody could have seen this happening.” *does nothing to fix the hits to Y, Z, and W*

      1. You forgot the “Those jobs were worthless anyway” excuse provided by AB5’s author after it passed.

        1. They were useless to union bosses and leftist politicians. They never said who they were useless to.

          In fact, they were damaging to those two groups.

      1. California’s AB-5 was announced as a bill to help people in gig jobs. It would force employers to treat such people as full-time employees. Under California law, this requires the employer to provide an array of benefits. It was actually aimed at giving unions an opening to unionize gig drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft.

        What happened, though, is that it affected the entire freelance community. For example, if you submit more than a small handful of articles to a publication, and sre paid for those articles, then the publication is now forced to treat you like a full-time employee. Companies can’t afford the added costs, so they’re cutting back on the freelancers. People who did freelance work to earn a little extra cash now can’t find those extra opportunities. And in the most recent election, California voters passed a law that overturned AB-5 specifically (and only) in relation to the gig driver industry.

        And now the Dems want to pass it on a national level.

        1. they’re also trying to say that it means if you write freelance stuff for a business located in CA, that you’re working in CA, and that’s already in the court system,

      2. I posted something a couple of hours ago, but WP appears to have eaten it…

        California AB-5 was a bill that was claimed to help gig industry workers by providing benefits for them. What it actually did was force companies like Uber and Lyft to treat all of their contractors as full-time employees. Under California law, this requires the employer to provide a number of benefits, including healthcare. Further, the law did the same to pretty much the entire freelance industry. For example, if someone freelance writes more than a handful of articles for a particular organization, and gets paid for each article, the law forces the organization to now classify the individual as a full-time employee.

        As a result, many people that did sporadic freelance work to supplement their incomes suddenly had that income cut off.

        The most recent election had a ballot initiative that caused the AB-5 rules to no longer apply to gig taxi services such as Uber or Lyft. It passed. Freelancers are still out of luck, though.

        Ironically, the real purpose of the bill was to give unions an in to attempt to unionize companies like Uber and Lyft. But the voters cut that off.

        Now the Dems in DC are pushing an identical bill.

        1. Some of the stupider pro writers are pushing for publishers to be formally recognized as employers of writers. Which would make all new books into work for hire books, which would make agents employees or headhunter contractors, which would make….

          I think even the stupider writers ended up realizing that they had said something double-plus-ungood, even by the standards of everyone they want to impress with virtue signals.

            1. If they were doing work-for-hire, wouldn’t their employer be legally liable for all content? Not just past Bad Thought, not merely present Bad Thought, but for what is determined to be Bad Thought in some as yet distant future?
              ~

                1. Yeah, there seems to have been little evidence of thought in the book biz since Jim Baen left us. Certainly very little original thinking.
                  ~

          1. Some of the same journalists at online media sites that were endorsing AB-5 suddenly started screaming when it passed, and they lost their jobs.

      3. It was government strong-arming with the intent to punish people who preferred to work their own hours, at their own convenience, on their own terms (each and every single one of them signed something saying they agreed to not get bennies or withholding or anything other than the mutually agreed upon monetary amount). It was also intended to force more people into the arms of the unions, to allow the unions to collect more required dues, which they could then use to bribe more politicians with ‘campaign donations’.

        The result has been the crippling of:
        Music festivals, as many of the band members were gig workers,
        Smaller studios in Hollywood, sound techs, extras, PAs, caterers, etc all are gig workers
        Non-taxi driving services (until Lyft and Uber managed to get themselves a loophole)
        Free-lance writers of all sorts, articles, screen plays, tech, you name it
        Anyone else who wanted or needed to make a little extra money by providing a service to others without going through the ridiculous hoops needed to count as self-employed.

        1. There’s an argument to be made that “people had no choice”. I’m a contract worker in California who works 40 hours a week, and due to various loopholes in the law, I don’t get treated as a full-time worker. I didn’t sign anything giving up benefits. It was simply a matter of, “You take this job with no benefits, or you don’t work.”

          That’s even after AB5 passed, by the way. It did absolutely nothing to change my situation.

          Sure, I’d like to have benefits. But that’s not really an option in the industry that I’m in because the entire industry is built around this loophole, and doesn’t really give you a choice – at least at my level.

          But people affected by this included individuals who were doing as little as handing in an article a month to make a little extra cash on the side. That opportunity has now been cut off.

          1. Not that it is any comfort to you, but NO job has “benefits” because all benefits really are is designated reimbursement. An employer looks at the total cost of a worker, not merely wages paid. If your wages are $20/hour, payroll taxes $2/hour and benefits are (approximately) $5/hour the employer looks at you as costing $27/hour. Because the state mandates you be provided “benefits” that is $5/hour off the top that is unavailable to you. Similarly, if the state raises the tax burden by $1/hour the money available for you has decreased.

            There are frills, such as the state allowing your employer to deduct your insurance cost as a business expense but not allowing you a similar deduction if your employer gives you that money and says buy your own insurance. But it all comes down to the crucial point: your wages are only one component of what your company pays for your labor and any “benefits” are provided at your expense.
            ~

            1. Also, not all the total costs of employing you flow to you. Payroll and other employment-related taxes are part of the total cost of employment, even though they flow to the government. When you learn how dumb those are and how much they cost you, it can be really angering.

              For example, in Connecticut, if a business that has been around 30+ years is sold, its unemployment payroll taxes increase. The state has multiple rates of unemployment taxes based on how old the business is. Not sure if the theory is “they are more likely to go under so we need to be ready to cover more people” or “they need to build up their funds”, but either way as soon as a business changes hands it is a “new business” and the state ups its revenue.

              1. There’s also the (from what I’ve heard) huge chunk of money that goes from the person that a contract worker is working for to the firm that is “officially” the contract worker’s employer.

            2. Yes, I’m very much aware of that. However, I suspect that employers can often get bulk discounts that employees can’t get. So they end up costing less when acquired as a job benefit.

              And that’s just for things like medical insurance. Sick days are a benefit, too.

        2. providing a service to others without going through the ridiculous hoops needed to count as self-employed.

          I’d say it went beyond that. It was designed to punish people who were good business people and established relationships and provided quality service so they became preferred vendors.

          For example, some of the articles indicate for free-lancer writers as few as 35 submissions. Were you reliable enough to get a weekly 1,000-word column at a local paper? Sorry, you’re their employee now, despite the 12 5,000 word articles you also sold, making the column less than half your sold output.

          That kind of stupidity isn’t an accident.

          I’m surprised they haven’t interpreted indie books on Amazon as being sufficient to be an Amazon employee somehow.

    2. See my comment about how the “of the people” grifters prefer large organizations, so they can exert their control and extort their money from one location.

      1. It’s essentially the use of a fascist structure to achieve communist goals-since their version of Marxism is identity group based, particularly race, rather than strictly by class, although one can use the term Commufascism to describe it, Communazism is a more apt description.

  9. Tangent, but business related. Yesterday I was searching the BN site and it kept failing. Tried it again today and got a page that just said this:

    This page is unavailable due to either geographic restrictions or other restrictions in place at this time. NOTE: other restrictions can be a result of our security platform detecting potential malicious activity. Please try again later as the restrictions may be lifted, or contact your service provider if the issue persists.

    ID: 9378274616128355864

    I guess my social credit score won’t allow me to buy books there.

      1. Looking at it, I suspect it is because I use a VPN.

        Bank of America does the same with online banking.

        Can’t allow people to possibly search for bad thought books without tracking them for the FBI.

            1. That is because VPNs could be used by drug traffickers and other criminals.

              You know what else they might be able to use? Roads! And airplanes, and banks and phones! So none of that may be used except by identifiable, trackable means.

              Or people who grease the wheels (such as the “late” Mr. Epstein) in order to be granted discretion.
              ~

              1. We can be reasonably sure that Epstein is, indeed, ‘the late’. Dirt on the Krooked Klintons? Oh, yeah. It’s the ‘suicide’ that is, to say the least, doubtful.
                ———————————
                Natural selection — making the world a better place, one idiot at a time.

  10. Even teachers aren’t assured anything at this point, as public schools are seeing record enrollment drops and saving a ton on building costs and maintenance.

    Despite my mother being a retired public school teacher, the current crop can go to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (they get much more anyway). They demand to be at the front of the line for vaccines and then demand schools not reopen for their safety and now complain when people share the pictures they post of vacations, often in areas on the CDC Covid “don’t go” list.

    They can f-off straight to hell.

    1. Yup. My if-I-were-dictator plan used to be “literally burn the school system to the ground, fire all the administrators, tar and feather the unions, rehire most of the teachers”. Now it’s “rehire some of the teachers, after a long probationary period overseen by Mr. DuBois (Lt.Col, ret.)”.

    2. Rumor has it that Day Job is getting an increasing number of inquiries, in part because we were in-person from day one this academic year. I suspect the other private schools are seeing a similar pattern. Home schooling is also on the increase.

      1. I expect a lot of families who are home schooling to revert to regular schools after this has passed – but the numbers will remain higher and the families returning to school will not be the compliant parents the public schools treasure. They will not simply do the fundraisers or police the playground for sharps, they will demand accountability. Maybe not all of them, but enough to encourage other parents to get active.

        There might be some interesting candidates in school board elections, too.
        ~

        1. Which is why teachers and administrators are actively doxxing them so their employers can be notified.

          1. In read that LEOs were looking into the Virginia case–not sure which side they’ll take. IIRC, it’s DOJ, so I’m not optimistic. “You dared to challenge The Authoritah! Felony hatespeech!!!eleventy111!!”

            1. “Looking into” like the FBI looking into nooses at a NASCAR garage, looking into like the FBI looking for Russians manipulating Trump, or looking into like the FBI looking into Hunter Biden’s laptop?

              1. Oh, I think it might be a serious investigation. Of the people who were being doxxed. Can’t have people trying to assert their rights, you know.

    3. Every one of them should get a medal.

      They are singlehandedly doing more damage to the school system in a matter of months than anyone else has done in decades.

      1. Yes, but they are also why the school system needs to be destroyed.

        Arsonists don’t get medals just because they burned their own house down.

  11. COVID fear will kill the restaurant I frequented most. I was there every week for trivia, but the woman who ran trivia is still too afraid to do it. Her substitute only does it outdoors and masks are required.

    With all the social interaction is gone, why should I bother to get bar food and sit outside in the covered patio in winter?

  12. Most of our local restaurants reopened as early as they could and rode the 25%-50%-75% – Governor says screw it roller coaster. Of the chains, Taco Bell was first to reopen for dining in, and I think Mickey D is the only place still doing only drive-through. Dining crowds are back and the town movie theatre is reopening.

  13. …federal courts are going to continue Zoom trials after the pandemic is declared over. They are finding it to be an easier managed situation for both parties, as well as reducing court costs.

    I have visibility into one chunk of the civil courts from day job: It’s totally hosed. Even arbitration schedules have been stretched out, and arbitrations hearings were often done remotely before.

    But for actual various state and federal courts, even with the option of zoom hearings and trials, case calendars have been stretched out towards infinity and beyond. This has cut my own billable hours pretty much by 75%, and I’m pretty far out on the branches of that food chain (day job supports expert witness work, so I do large data set analysis and generate charts and tables for the report and slides for hearing day), but all those people who used to have to Be There For The Trial, day after day – the court security, the office staff, the maintenance staff, and all the rest of the folks who day after day were at the courthouse for hearings and pleadings, they are either doing that from home (not sure how the court security folks or the maintenance staff can do that) or are out of work.

    And I don’t know about the $x,000/hr lawyers, but nobody is cleaning my office space but me (hm, looking around, I guess I should vacuum and dust a bit).

    And that’s just civil court in one slice of the law.

    I think we really are at a phase change, with a lot of the “support people being in a place” jobs, whether making their food or waiting their tables at lunch or mixing them drinks or renting them hotel rooms, or even doing IT support or making sure the HVAC works or emptying their cubical trash cans, are all just gone.

    The only place I’m betting sees absolutely no change, either in the main folks or the support minionage, is in DC and the various state capitals – those pols are not going to be emptying their own trash cans or giving up their gallon-of-Grey-Goose lunches.

    1. TPTB have to be smugly satisfied. They have severely weakened a portion of the economy and its society, conditioned people to accept more changes, raised levels of depression and anxiety, and have convinced half the people that more government protection will keep them safe.
      Let’s not make it as easy for them as it’s been for the past year. We know what they’re up to. We know where they want to take this.

  14. *takes notes* Thinking about how to incorporate the 2020 covidiocy into my contemporary book series, which features a small down and a chef-manager of a local coffee-house restaurant.

  15. Shrillary proclaimed today that the reason there is gun violence is because “Republicans worship guns:” What Shrillary and her fellow aspiring totalitarians don’t understand is that people worship FREEDOM; guns are simply the tool by which that freedom is preserved.

  16. Before the Great Pandemic the restaurant business was tough enough with a 85% failure rate in the first 2 years.
    I would hate to see the statistics on the failure rate during and after the Great Pandemic imposed on us by the Branch Covidian Cult.

    1. Note how many cases of independent restaurants shut down while chain restaurants were allowed to remain open.

      Note how the restaurants were still under the jackboot after stores were opened back up.

  17. My reaction to the word “frottage” is like the character in the movie “Broken Arrow” on learning that term—I’m not sure which is worse that it happens or that it happens so much there’s word for it. (N. B.: Add to offspring’s packing list.)

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