85% of independent restaurants may be forced to close by the end of 2021, according to a report commissioned by the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
“What I’m afraid of is the people that are the least likely to survive are going to be these small, single-location, immigrant-run, women-run, people-of-color-run operations. That we’re the ones that don’t have the infrastructure like the chain restaurants to survive this,” Dan Wu, owner of Atomic Ramen in Lexington, Kentucky, said.
“I think it’s going to be a long haul to get back to where we were,” Amanda Cohen, who runs Dirt Candy, a vegetarian restaurant in New York City, and is a member of the IRC leadership. “I still have most of the same bills that I had before I closed. I still have to pay electricity and gas and purveyors. And I don’t think I will have enough customers to keep my business going.”
Restaurant owners say that while the Paycheck Protection Program provided immediate relief for many independent restaurants, it is a temporary band-aid for their long-term problems. “We do have the support of the PPP loans and also the grants that are paid by the government but simply not enough to stay open long term. I don’t think most restaurants will even last to December,” Nina Compton said on the IRC press call. Compton is the chef and owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans.