July 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup
A new month means new opportunities to reflect on the little rays of light that make life worth living. Before we dive into the good times, it’s important to contrast them against the shared struggles of the industry. When a lawsuit brought the Small Business Administration relief program to a halt, it left many indie operations in the lurch. Likewise, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund came to an abrupt end, leaving many more left wanting. On a smaller level, rapper/restaurateur Trick Daddy relearned the lesson that if you shoot at the Queen (Beyoncé), you best not miss. After disparaging remarks about Beyoncé, the emcee saw his business Yelp bombed, which is not an easy thing to come back from. Still, there are plenty of things to celebrate in our July 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup, so stay tuned.
As the industry has returned to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, so too have restaurant stocks. In May, sales reached $67.3 billion, the highest sales since January 2020. Based on stock market reports, the industry is predicted to grow, not just in return to form, but bigger and better than before. As more and more people are vaccinated and restrictions continue to lift around the world, fast casuals and table service restaurants are poised for a brighter future.
While there are plenty of struggles in restaffing the restaurant industry, there are some hidden gems to uncover from continued debates over increasing the minimum wage to providing healthcare. First, employers looking to enhance their employee retention practices are in luck. The Employee Retention Tax Credit offers owners and operators the opportunity to access up to $7000 in funds per calendar quarter in 2021 to incentivize retention efforts.
While the (inter)national conversation implies that workers don’t want to return to restaurant work, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. A recent report indicates that teenagers return to the restaurant industry workforce in droves, with Gen-Z stepping up to fill the void. Some members of that generation are using the employment shuffle to their advantage, with one ambitious Texas teen working up from entry-level to leadership in his restaurant.
In Michigan, an outreach program is working to connect former convicts with gainful restaurant employment. Funded in part by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the Hospitality Opportunities for People (re)Entering Society (HOPES) program is designed to help reformed convicts get back on their feet. The program offers vocational training, as well as placement assistance across four U.S. states. The HOPES program starts January 1, 2022.
Big Tipping, Spendin’ G’s
Stories about big tippers are common to the extent that you see them nearly every month. Still, it’s always heartening to encounter a story of unmitigated kindness, where a guest recognizes the hard work put in by staff to make their dining experience special. That was the case at the Stumble Inn Bar and Grill in New Hampshire when a stranger left a 16K tip for the staff to share.
This is an exceptional story by itself, but especially so when contrasted against what the staff at Apt Cape Cod in Massachusetts go through. The staff has recently suffered such an enormous degree of rude behavior that the owners decided to take a day off for mental health. There is good news in the owners’ mindfulness, sure, but both of these stories are examples of how our collective actions ripple out into the world; kindness travels.
Fishing For Fishies
The expression “teach someone to fish and they’ll eat for a lifetime” was realized recently as part of a nonprofit effort to connect local fishermen and food banks. The organization Catch Together saw a problem arise when local fisheries were impacted by pandemic-related quarantine measures, affecting sales to local restaurants. Catch Together has worked to find alternative routes for fisherman to peddle their wares by connecting them to local food banks. This has not only helped small business owners but fed the community as well, which is always the right thing to do.
It’s hard to say if more robots are a good or bad thing in the long run. Popular fiction from Terminator to Battlestar Galactica suggests that given enough time, the singularity will happen, and we won’t like it. That said, if we have to start somewhere, bring on the beer robots! It’s hard to imagine any scenario wherein a beer robot poses a direct threat outside your liver. Designed for larger events, these robots are roving bars/vending machines meant to expedite service in crowded spaces. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself at a big concert or sporting event.
July 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup Conclusion
As we wrap up our July 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup, let’s reflect just a little more on some of the nice things people are doing to help each other and their community at large. Right now, there are lawmakers out there hustling for additional relief funds. Meanwhile, Guy Fieri continues to help small restaurant operations get back on their feet, this time sending two California-based businesses 25K apiece to help out. As we end, it’s nice to imagine that we missed something because that means that there’s even more good news out there to light our days. Have any to share? Sign off in the comments section below.
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About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.