Their message rang clear: After a difficult year, they say the hospitality industry needs help, and they hope lawmakers in session can give the industry some relief.
A rally to save Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry: Elected officials, representatives from the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, and restaurant owners urged lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf for financial relief and support.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association is the unified voice of Pennsylvania’s hospitality and tourism industries. We strive to promote, protect, and improve these industries through advocacy, education, and services.
Their message rang loud and clear: After a difficult year, they say the industry needs help, and they say they hope the lawmakers in session can give restaurants a slice of the remaining $1.3 billion in remaining Cares Act Funding.
“The impact is absolutely there. Every restaurant is surviving right now. We are also surviving,” said Mohan Pradhan, one of the owners of Himalayan Curry and Grill in Lancaster.
Pradhan and business partner Sarmila Shrestha say the restaurant is surviving because of loyal customers and takeout orders only. Being a small restaurant limited by the changing indoor capacities, they decided to shut down dine-in service at the start of the pandemic.
“A month ago, she was so upset went into a depression. She said, ‘I can’t see my customers,'” said Pradhan about his business partner. “She said, ‘I need to see them.'”
“I miss them,” explained Sarmila Shresthe.
The owners of Himalayan Curry & Grill say the restaurant will not open indoor dining until indoor capacity is at 100%. However, they’re not the only ones forced to make difficult decisions.
“We permanently shuttered one location, when the pandemic started. We laid off about 750-800 employees,” said Dave Magrogan, CEO and founder of Harvest Seasonal Grill.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar features a local, farm to table menu with many items that are below 500 calories in an upscale casual atmosphere. Every three months, we update our menu to celebrate the new flavors that accompany the change in seasons.
Magrogan says they have some of those employees back, but his business and many others will soon weather the winter.
“Now, with patios starting to not being able to be used, we are fearful we will have to cut our staffing levels again,” he added.
Add to that, Magrogan says restaurants are paying to have improved air quality inside their businesses, personal protective equipment for staff and customers, plexiglass dividers, and sanitizer. That’s on top of the other costs associated with running a restaurant.
Startling data from the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association shows many restaurants could be forced to close by the end of 2021 if representatives say funding does not increase.
“We anticipate 50-60% will close if they do not receive financial assistance. That is under current conditions. If there is further mitigation that number is only going to be higher,” said Melissa Bova, Vice President of Government Affairs.
Bova feels restaurants have been unfairly targeted in mitigation efforts throughout the pandemic.
“I think if you even look at the contract tracing, the vast majority of these cases is coming from people getting together for birthday parties and getting together with their family and not wearing masks. There is no enforcement mechanism for that. There is enforcement on us. Our livelihood is on the line,” explained Bova. “We [restaurants and lodging] have to do the right thing.”
“Restaurants are preventing spread, and the reason why is we have sanitizer. We have PPE. We make sure we keep everything clean and disinfected. We limit times of guests. We spread guests far enough apart. None of that happens in private homes,” added Magrogan.
Magrogran says any money that is designated to the restaurant industry will help employees.
“Really at this point, the money is needed to help the restaurant employees. They don’t have the extra federal unemployment. Many used their extra Pennsylvania benefits, and that’s a difficult process so if you’re going to restrict and limit restaurants during the holidays, you need to make sure you have something for those restaurant workers.”
The rally comes just on day after Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced new efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including:
A strengthened mask order which requires people indoors to wear a mask even if six feet apartRequired negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours before coming to PennsylvaniaExpectations for hospitalsRecommendations for colleges