SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Restaurants have suffered throughout the entire COVID pandemic and this recent omicron surge is also hurting business.
A new survey found the majority of restaurants saw a drop in customers because of the highly contagious omicron variant. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) said there is something that can help and it’s looking to Congress to get it done.
Nikola’s BBQ in Southfield is a popular spot and they’ve learned to adapt under difficult circumstances. The industry as a whole hasn’t been nearly as fortunate.
After two years, they know how to stay profitable even though they’re operating with four waiters instead of fourteen and only use half of the tables they have.
“Every time there is a new variant of this COVID, people get scared again and they’re very reluctant to go out,” owner Velko Milosevich said.
The MRLA asked its members about the federal money available and 43% who didn’t get restaurant relief fund grants will likely close soon. It said 97% applied for RRF grants and didn’t receive one, which means they couldn’t hire back laid-off employees.
Association president Justin Winslow said Congress needs to approve another round of funding. He cited issues related to the omicron variant.
Members claim an 86% decline in indoor customer demand, while 76% say business conditions worsened over the past three months and 78% say they are less profitable than before the pandemic.
Winslow estimates 3,000 Michigan restaurants closed during the pandemic.