The restaurant industry is in dire straits as the Omicron surge forces more shutdowns this winter and no federal relief in sight. More than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed in the US since the pandemic began.
The pandemic has shaken the hospitality industry, with more than 100,000 restaurants forced to close in the first year of the pandemic, according to data from the National Restaurant Association. The Small Business Administration tried to prevent the industry from collapsing by launching the Restaurant Revitalization Fund in May 2021, but data from the Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates that more than 86% of unfunded independent restaurants and bars are at risk of closing permanently. Tyler Akin, chef of Le Cavalier in Delaware, owner and chef of Stock restaurants in Philadelphia and board member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said: “It’s a really critical moment amid the omicron and seasonal January crisis that most restaurants are facing. For most of us, it’s just beyond the limit.”