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Not Very, Very, Maybe

I cannot fathom how restaurant owners have coped with the devastating effects of the pandemic. Given that context, it was particularly pleasing to see humor on the walls of a restaurant in Carlsbad, CA.

Not very, very, maybe....what an apt description of life in limbo.

As an IT business owner, the economic contraction has caused a whiplash even though we don't have the level of interaction with our customers and cash flow dependency on foot traffic like restaurants do. I cannot extrapolate to the pain felt by restaurant owners.

Last year in the US, restaurant sales were $240B below projections, 110,000 restaurants and bars closed and took away jobs from 2.5M people. If you have any doubts about the service underpinnings of our economy, these numbers will put them to rest.

We cannot go anywhere without seeing vacant and boarded up restaurants and bars. This industry has been hit the hardest and will have the longest climb-back compared to all other businesses.

In spring of last year, when the country shutdown abruptly, 6M jobs were lost all at once in the restaurant industry. Although there have been gains in the last three months, the gap continues to be calamitous and the fear remains that some of the loss is permanent.

I used to toy with the idea of opening a restaurant in our retirement. It would operate from 11am to 2pm and then close for the evening. In my dreams, this place - "SENsible Foods" - would serve our favorite multi-ethnic dishes that our friends seem to like as well. It would keep us out of trouble for part of the day and let us chill the rest. Tarun is more far more grounded from his OR research on perishable inventory models and would stare into space whenever I brought this up.

Thankfully for him, the pandemic has brought a firm end to the hole-in-the wall idea.

With all of the traveling we do, the microbes are more easily able to piggyback on humans as hosts and carriers. Consequently, this may not be the last once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic of our lifetime

Whatever is in store in the distant future, I pray every day for a return to normalcy now for our friends in the restaurant business. Let’s root for "very soon" to become a reality for them!


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