While life feels like it is starting to get back to normal, many Texas restaurants are still feeling the financial squeeze of the pandemic.
“It’s been a long 15 months,” said Joe Monastero, Texas Restaurant Association Chief Strategy and Operations Officer. “Over the course of the last 15 months, we estimate we’ve lost around 10,000 foodservice outlets and restaurants across the state. So, that’s nearly 20%.”
Monastero said many restaurants are also facing an employee shortage.
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“We still have around 160,000 workers sidelined. They are still on unemployment or they’ve gone into other industries like retail and grocery – logistics such as driving for Amazon and the like,” he explained. “Our greatest challenge prior to the pandemic was a workforce shortage and that has very quickly come back to being our greatest challenge. It is what is preventing restaurants from getting back to 100% capacity.”
The pandemic and the 2020 economy dampened what was shaping up to be a fruitful stretch for the industry.
“Throwback 15 months and we had 50,000 units. We had just finished the best year ever with 70 billion in sales and we employed 1.3 million people in the state of Texas,” Monastero said.
According to Monastero, there are some changes that could actually help the industry in the years to come.
“A lot of these new things like curbside pick-up and ‘alcohol to go’ which is now a permanent law in the state,” he said.