Restaurant News Roundup

The world as a whole seems to be changing by the hour.

Fear of the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in nationwide closures of some restaurants as well as herculean efforts to keep the doors of other restaurants open for delivery and takeout to serve a homebound public.

Now states across the country are working through varying phases of reopening as COVID cases resurge in some areas, placing the wisdom of reopening in doubt and threatening a second round of closures.

With all this in mind, here’s a brief roundup of the current news in the restaurant industry in an effort to keep you as up to date as possible on what’s happening in our turbulent world.

Third party delivery restrictions

The fees and percentages claimed by third party delivery services such as GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats and others have long been an issue with restaurants that partner with them. When that delivery market was a comparatively small one, receiving $7 after commissions and fees for an item that would generally net $12 was a loss that could more easily be absorbed in the name of customer convenience and satisfaction.

In the post-COVID world, however, when the size of that delivery market has expanded to as much as 100% of some restaurants’ business, those numbers become much less manageable. As a result, and in an effort to help struggling restaurants, cities nationwide have begun instituting legal caps on how much these food apps can charge to deliver food.

The latest city to pass such legislation, New York, has capped third party delivery commissions at 15% with a further restriction of additional fees (for credit card processing and preferred placement in the app) at 5% for as long as restaurants remain closed and for 90 days after eateries are able to reopen.

Black Lives Matter

On another front, after initially telling employees not to wear Black Lives Matter gear (such as masks, etc), Starbucks has reversed its stance, and Taco Bell is working to clarify its mask policy.

After an employee at a Taco Bell location in Ohio was asked by management to remove his Black Lives Matter mask, Taco Bell Corporate and Yum Brands tweeted a statement indicating a policy reversal and a promise to do better going forward.

At Starbucks, after an official corporate memo barring baristas from wearing Black Lives Matter face masks was publicly leaked, top management of the brand quickly released a letter stating that the company is designing tee-shirts in partnership with their Black Partner Network for baristas to wear to “demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity.” Until then, Starbucks employees will be permitted to wear Black Lives Matter pins and shirts.

In the original internal memo, Starbucks expressed concern that wearing gear in support of Black Lives Matter was against the company dress code policy, which specifically bans pins or buttons that “advocate a political, religious, or personal issue.” The company has outwardly promoted the Black Lives Matter movement, however, and has donated $1 million to organizations that promote racial equality.

Restaurant closures

Despite most of the country progressing through various phases of reopening, many restaurants have unfortunately been unable to weather the economic hardship created by COVID closings and a public hesitant to resume their normal dining habits in the face of reported new spikes in COVID cases around the country.

Restaurants reporting at least partial permanent closures are Rubios (closing 12 locations in Colorado and Florida) and Fuddruckers among others, including approximately 50 Bravo and Brio locations, 97 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes locations, and over  50 Specialty’s Café & Bakery restaurants.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition issued a report last week stating that up to 85% of mom-and-pop restaurants could close permanently by the end of the year without additional financial support.

Our OneDine team is dedicated to helping our restaurant family make it through these unprecedented times, and we’re in this for the long haul.

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