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Customer Who Got Angry And Left Maine Restaurant Sends Letter Of Apology – With $ 100 Tip

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“You never want to be ‘that guy’ and that day I was ‘that guy’.”

It’s a tough time being in the restaurant industry, whether it’s a lack of help or discussions about vaccine mandates.

Then there are the angry customers who are not used to waiting maybe a little longer than usual for service.

It’s been a lot this summer in particular, according to Tammy Stirk Ramsey, who has worked at Union Bluff in York, Maine, for about 25 years.

What she didn’t expect was that one of those angry, cursing customers would send her a letter of apology – and a big tip.

Ramsey recently received a letter from the anonymous client, who apologized profusely for his behavior and attached $ 100. In the letter, he describes how he was at the restaurant on July 5 between 5 and 6 p.m., and he and the big party with him were waiting “longer than I thought”.

At one point the man wrote that he said, “This is b *******.”

“It comes from a guy who tells people to be nice to the service staff and tip big after the pandemic – what hypocrisy,” he wrote.

“The cocktails before dinner before arriving at the Bluff may have helped – No apologies…” he also said.

The man said he planned to apologize in person.

“You never want to be ‘that guy’ and that day I was ‘that guy’,” he wrote. ” Sincerely sorry. “

When Ramsey got the letter, she said it gave him goosebumps.

“I was just overwhelmed,” she said, noting that she shared the tip with a colleague who worked with her that day.

Ramsey also shared a photo of the letter to Seacoast Eats, a Facebook group dedicated to area restaurants. His post had received around 2,000 likes and over 300 shares by Friday afternoon.

This summer has been particularly difficult in terms of customer frustration or anger.

“There have been so many cases,” she said.

It’s a stark contrast to last summer, when people were just thrilled to go out and eat when restaurants reopened after the pandemic forced them to close.

“Everyone who came was so happy,” Ramsey said. “They didn’t care if they had to wait two hours.

In addition to the unhappy customers, the restaurant also struggled to find help, which is not unique to Union Bluff. Much less of the regular summer help came back.

“We had a hard time hiring,” she said.

To those who may be frustrated while waiting to be seated in a restaurant, Ramsey says customers should anticipate that things don’t go as fast as they used to.

“I would say just give yourself time,” she said. “Be patient, be kind.”

Read the full letter:

Tammy Stirk Ramsey – Tammy Ramsey


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DoorDash users can now add C-Store items to their restaurant orders

DoorDash users can now add C-Store items to their restaurant orders

DoorDash this week launched a new feature, DoubleDash, which allows users to bundle items from different businesses like grocery and convenience stores into one transaction. DoorDash customers can add grocery and convenience items to their original order and checkout in one transaction and at no additional delivery charge, according to a company blog post.

DoubleDash is currently available for 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Wawa, QuickChek, and The Ice Cream Shop. It is also available for orders placed in DoorDash’s DashMart convenience store.

Customers who place an order at the restaurant can look for the DoubleDash option to add items from those stores. The available stores are listed on the app inside the DoorDash app. Theoretically, orders from these different stores and restaurants are supposed to arrive at the same time, although a line at the bottom of today’s blog post states that “deliveries may arrive separately.”

In some cities, DoorDash also offers DoubleDash for local restaurants. In these markets, users can add “free items” from other restaurants to their existing order.

All of this is further proof that DoorDash is very serious about becoming a must-have service for more than just restaurant food. In addition to launching DashMart last year, the San Francisco-based company has also launched a grocery delivery service and has existing deals with some convenience stores. As of this week, DoorDash is also said to be in talks to invest in the German service Gorillas, which offers fast delivery of groceries from small “dark stores” located in dense residential areas.

At the end of last month, DoorDash also opened a new location for its Ghost Kitchen. For now, this operation only delivers restaurant food.


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Local restaurants still struggle to find employees after restrictions are lifted

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) – Since numerous COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, businesses have seen more customers, but fewer employees. Small businesses have done their best to stay afloat.

For some, running a business is more difficult than usual. Some have done employee work in addition to looking to hire. Lynchburg managers say the process has not been easy.

Virginia Lewis is a waitress at the Italian restaurant Graziano. She said: “I think what is happening is people see that they are making more money with unemployment. So they decided “if we make more money out of unemployment, we can just stay home.”

Graziano receives a lot of candidates. But they are not serious.

Lewis said: “We have had so many unemployed people who say they are going back to the job market, so they come for a few days to work and then they never show up again.”

When that happens, it leaves more work for their manager, Chelsea Easterbrook. She said, “You are trying to find qualified people and train them. So as a manager I don’t really wait for tables but ended up doing a lot. You have to do this to keep the place afloat.

At Firehouse Subs, they usually have a membership of 14 or 15, but currently they have nine.

Director James Campbell said: “A lot of people don’t want to risk coming to work. So that makes us longer hours.

Campbell added that it’s great to see sales increase, but like most small businesses, they are looking to fill all positions.

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Family fights for iconic Sheepshead Bay Lundy’s restaurant

Lundy’s at 1901 Emmons Avenue (Culinary Institute of America and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)

Lundy’s served loads of fresh seafood to nearly a million diners a year at its iconic Sheepshead Bay dining room. But now the owners of the 49,000 square foot building are just serving beef in the courtroom.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks to force the estate of a deceased shareholder to sell his stake in the company that has owned the Lundy’s building since 1988.

When Brooklyn entrepreneur Dimitrios Kaloidis died in September 2019, he left 25 shares in Sheepshead Restaurant Associates, owner of the iconic building at 1901 Emmons Avenue. While Lundy’s closed decades ago, its once deteriorated building has been restored and a recent appraisal valued it at $ 11.4 million, making Kaloidis a 25% stake to almost 3 millions of dollars.

Now George Kaloidis – his brother and co-shareholder – is suing to force the estate to sell the shares. The lawsuit is based on a 1988 shareholders’ agreement stipulating that deceased shareholders are obligated to offer their shares for sale to existing owners. Despite the clause, the Kaloidis estate did not respond to George’s offers, according to the documents.

George Kaloidis, who already owns 50 shares in the company, has filed a lawsuit against Georgia Kaloidis, Dimitrios’ widow, and Paul Kerantas, a New York accountant, who are the executors of the estate.

“I think this is a purely procedural matter,” said Alex Kleyman, lawyer for George Kaloidis. In the next few days, Kleyman plans to file a summary judgment motion, which would settle the case without a full trial. Georgia Kaloidis could not be reached.

Lundy’s Restaurant was an institution in Brooklyn, providing special dining to the borough’s middle and working class for nearly half a century. When it was built, it was one of the largest restaurants in the country; At its peak, Lundy’s served an average of 10,000 people on a Sunday, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

It was built by Irving Lundy in the teeth of the Great Depression, just as Sheepshead Bay emerged from decades of construction. In 1929, as a government-sponsored facelift completed modernizing the neighborhood’s exploded piers, Lundy decided to expand his fish shop into a two-story restaurant on Emmons Avenue.

That year he acquired prime bay land for his “Seafood Palace,” and when construction was completed in 1934, he moved his restaurant there. It was by far the largest in the area and could accommodate 2,400 to 2,800 people (the number varies depending on the establishment’s many stories).

Lundy’s family kept the restaurant in business for some time after his death in 1977, but sold it along with neighboring land for $ 11 million in 1981. Lundy’s was closed for years and as the building went down deteriorating, it seemed doomed to demolition.

But Sheepshead Restaurant Associates bought the building in 1988 and ultimately divided it into 15 rental spaces, with a handful of restaurants downstairs and a few commercial tenants above.

The iconic exterior, with its stucco walls and low-pitched tiled roof, remains largely the same, including the FWIL Lundy Brothers lettering in the original font above the entrances, for the founder’s initials , whose full name was Frederick William Irving Lundy.


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OUR ADVICE: Continue to be patient with restaurants during times of job shortages and other COVID-19 issues – LaGrange Daily News

A a few months ago, we wrote an op-ed asking the public to be generous and understanding when going out to eat or shopping in a retail store. For whatever reason, hiring for these types of jobs has been a real challenge in recent months as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We updated the hiring challenges over the weekend, and while it seems to have improved for some, others are still struggling to find reliable employees who can do a good job.

With that in mind, we encourage you to continue to insist on patience when you are on the move. These retail and restaurant positions are all essential jobs that often have low wages and long lines of customers to deal with. And unfortunately, some of these customers are impatient, don’t understand, and are in a bad mood.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Everyone hates standing in line or looking for a waiter who has seemingly disappeared at a restaurant, but it’s not the most important thing that happens in our lives, either. It’s a little speed bump during the day, and hopefully that’s how you see it, especially now when these companies are struggling to find good workers.

For example, many waiters can help more tables than normal right now, so keep that in mind if your sweet tea glass has been empty for an extended period of time.

There is also another way to help.

Not only should you keep going to your favorite restaurants and stores as a sign of support, but also keep all available positions in mind. Often the best way to find out about a vacancy is by word of mouth, and people often appreciate what their friends and family have to say.

It’s much nicer than an Indeed or Monster job posting. If you know someone who might be a good fit for you, tell them about the job.

We value everyone in these industries because they provide an essential service and give us an outlet when we are away from work or spending time with family. Keep this in mind when shopping or dining out.


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A record number of restaurants are opening in New York. Kind of.

The return of restaurants. The season of hedonism. New York summer. There is no shortage of names to describe what is happening on the streets of New York once laden with yurts, but Nicole Biscardi believes there might be room for another. “This is the start of the restaurant renaissance,” says Biscardi, hospitality industry specialist at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

In July 2020, when the five boroughs became an epicenter of the coronavirus around the world, city officials struggled to document the number of restaurant closings across the city – there were just as many. About a year later, the opposite is now true: New York is having one of its busiest restaurant opening seasons in over a year. Even if it’s not that busy.

Restaurant openings are on the rise again in New York City, but seen through the prism of pre-pandemic openings data, the renaissance is more like a slow recovery. “People might think restaurants are blowing doors, making money hand in hand, opening left and right, but they don’t realize how devastated the industry has been,” Biscardi said. “Even though it looks like things are back, they still aren’t.”

Nearly 700 restaurants opened between March and May 2021, according to the latest data available from Yelp, but more than 1,000 opened during the same period in 2019. May is generally one of the busiest months of the year for restaurant openings, the number of new openings fell by 300 restaurants from 2019 to 2021.

Restaurant reservation company Resy estimates that roughly the same number of businesses opened on its platform between April and June 2021 as during this same period in 2019. However, the reach of the company has more than doubled in recent years, from around 2,000 restaurants at the end of 2018 to more than 5,000 the following year, suggesting that openings have not kept pace with the company’s growth.

Still, this is an encouraging increase after a year that interrupted even the city’s busiest seasons for restaurant openings. Over the past year, Biscardi says she has monitored restaurant openings across the city, examining a workload of more than 600 businesses grappling with seasonal weather conditions and changing regulations. In the fall, when indoor dining briefly returned to New York City, there was a “panic” about how loosely worded state policies would play out in reality, she says. After the restaurants inside closed two months later, most of the restaurateurs she spoke to “were crying hysterically”, unsure whether their businesses would survive the winter.

By the spring, restrictions on coronaviruses had started to loosen and something became apparent, Biscardi says. In a year of ups – and especially downs – some restaurateurs were holding their breath, planning new projects, and waiting to launch those that were already in preparation before the pandemic. Now well into the summer, restaurant openings “shoot like a shotgun,” she said.

Aldama, located in the former location of Williamsburg Bar Loosie Rouge, opened in June.
Adam Friedlander / Eater

Granted, the number of restaurants open between March and May 2021 is down from 2019, but year over year the number of new food businesses is up about 92%, according to Yelp data. . Between March and July, about 1,300 additional establishments applied for permits through the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, although that number also includes non-restaurant food businesses and renewals. existing restaurants.

Spring and fall were typically the busiest seasons for restaurant openings before the pandemic, but the latest increase in numbers is the culmination of a year-long “bottleneck”, according to Biscardi. “Because of the time it can take to plan and open a restaurant, there were a lot of restaurants waiting in the pipeline,” she says. When the pandemic restrictions on restaurants and bars started to ease, “people who were even kind of ready to go said, ‘Fuck it. Let’s do it now. ‘”

This is the case with Hand Hospitality, the successful group behind Her Name is Han and Izakaya Mew. Emboldened by the city’s reopening, Hand launched Little Mad in early June, a Korean-American restaurant in Nomad located in the same group’s former On space. Hand plans to expand with a second restaurant next month, a Thai establishment that has been under construction for more than a year but has been suspended due to the pandemic.

The openings were spurred by a feeling – that “everything is coming back slowly,” a spokesperson for the hotel group told Eater – but also a fear. “If we don’t do it now, how long later can we wait?” ” they say.

Hand Hospitality has reallocated its restaurant spaces, but elsewhere in New York City openings are being spurred by ‘fire sale’ rental deals made earlier in the pandemic, according to Andrew Moger, founder of local sandwich chain Melt Shop and real estate development company BCD. “The things that are opening up now are deals that were made during the pandemic,” when rents were reduced by 30 to 50 percent in parts of the city, he says. “It’s not like you sign a lease now and take it over the next day. It takes time.”

A luxe dining room with gold trim, red and orange booths, custom light fixtures, and fruit on display

Restaurateur Andrew Carmellini opened Carne Mare at the South Street Seaport in June.
Nicole Franzen / Carne Mare

For operators with capital earlier in the pandemic, the investments are starting to pay off. Blank Street Coffee, which opened in Williamsburg last August, now has a double-digit line of brick-and-mortar coffee carts and cafes to its credit. Founders Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda plan to open 20 more locations in New York City by the end of the summer, they say, about a third of which will be brick and mortar.

“We were the only bid most of the time,” Menda said of lease agreements made around the same time last year. “We had all the time in the world to decide what we wanted to do. “

These same opportunities are rarer today. Brandon Pena is the founder of Puerto Rican roaster 787 Coffee, which nearly doubled its number of locations last year – from four to 11 – by signing leases on coffee spaces that closed during the pandemic. He estimates that rental prices have increased by around 20% compared to the same period last year. “There are a lot of restaurants opening and everyone is trying to get the best price,” says Pena, who outbid three cafe spaces in June alone.

“Everything we’ve looked at, the prices are going up because they have deals now,” he says. “Before, they didn’t have anyone.

Food courts may relocate again, but experts say New York City’s economy may still be years away from returning to pre-pandemic levels and may be slower to rebound than other regions metropolitan areas of the country. Other factors, including the end of the state’s hiatus on business evictions on September 1 and the depletion of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, mean a slight increase in restaurant closings could be on the horizon.

Biscardi will be the first to say that she is not a “fear sower” – or a city-wide economics expert – but as someone who has been on the ground with restaurant owners and bars over the past year, she thinks “we’re on the right track. return ”, even if it is long. “Even under perfect circumstances – everything is open, the rules are lifted, people want to come out – I think we are looking at another two or three years,” she said.

Still, a rebirth is a parent, and Biscardi expects restaurants and bars to keep opening, especially as New York City draws closer to its second busiest season for openings: the fall.


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Four companies named Ocean Friendly Restaurants

LIHU’E – Some restaurants are taking a stand against plastic pollution in the oceans by eliminating their use.

The Surfrider Foundation Kaua’i Chapter is relaunching its Ocean Friendly Restaurant program with four restaurants meeting the criteria.

“The Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Restaurant program has started in restaurants in California and Hawaii to prevent plastic pollution of the ocean,” said Ruta Jordans, Ocean Friendly Restaurant Coordinator for SFKC.

“Surfrider has extended all of its memberships until October 2021. At that point, they will need to comply with the new OFR 2.0 criteria in order to renew their membership.

So far, restaurants that have joined OFR 2.0 with the new criteria include Kaua’i Island Brewing Company, Passion Bakery Cafe, Oasis on the Beach, and Pineapple in Paradise. Before the pandemic, 26 restaurants qualified.

Kaua’i Island Brewing Company and Pineapple in Paradise are both Platinum Members, which means establishments meet all mandatory and optional criteria.

Ocean Friendly restaurants are plastic-free and are committed to working for the sustainability of Kaua’i.

“We decided this was our kuleana de malama notre ‘aina and to become ocean friendly,” said Farah Aquino, Managing Director of Passion Bakery. “At Passion Bakery, we believe in a holistic approach to keep our community pono. We are committed to a sustainable and responsible Kaua’i. Our mission is to improve our community, and we take this responsibility seriously. “

The program was created to solve the problem of ocean plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean.

“Single-use plastic is particularly damaging, as bags, bottles, straws, styrofoam and food packaging always top the list of items our volunteers collect during cleanups,” Jordans said.

“The solution is simple: we have to stop plastic at the source. This is exactly what the OFR program of Surfrider Foundation does. We recognize restaurants that are committed to eliminating single-use plastic waste and provide a simple and straightforward framework to help them make sustainable choices for our ocean, ”she said.

Jordans said the new OFR 2.0 program requirements have been increased to seven mandatory and three optional criteria to focus more on sustainability issues. Additionally, the fee structure has been changed to allow the choice of donating $ 150 tax deductible or paying $ 0.

•••

Stephanie Shinno, journalist, can be contacted at 245-0424 or at [email protected]


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A&W to open three restaurants in the Charlotte area

title=wpil_keyword_link"Restaurants plans to open three restaurants in the Charlotte area. The restaurant is known for its American cuisine and fresh root beer.” title=”A&W Restaurants plans to open three restaurants in the Charlotte area. The restaurant is known for its American cuisine and fresh root beer.” loading=”lazy”/>

A&W Restaurants plans to open three restaurants in the Charlotte area. The restaurant is known for its American cuisine and fresh root beer.

An iconic root beer and hamburger chain will open several restaurants in the Charlotte area, debuting in North Carolina.

A&W Restaurants, based in Lexington, Ky., Will open nine franchise restaurants, including three in the Charlotte area, five in Las Vegas and one in St. Louis, the company said in a press release.

Ronald and Nadyne Jennings will build restaurants in the Gastonia and Kings Mountain areas and in South Carolina in the Rock Hill area, according to A&W.

A company official did not immediately respond to a request for more information about plans for the Charlotte area.

A&W is known for making its root beer on site at every restaurant and served in frozen mugs. The menu includes burgers, chicken, and hot dogs, and of course, root beer floats and other desserts.

The company owns five restaurants in South Carolina, according to the company’s website.

Since its acquisition by franchisees nearly 10 years ago, A&W sales have grown by more than 50%, according to the company.

Handmade Chicken Tender.jpg
Three A&W restaurants will open in the Charlotte area serving freshly made root beer and other menu items like chicken fillets. A&W Restaurants

About A&W

The 102-year-old company began with a root beer stand from founder Roy Allen in Lodi, California. There are now over 900 A&W in the United States and Asia.

Five years ago, A&W parted ways with Yum Brands, which includes fast food restaurants like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, and reverted to being an independent business.

A&W CEO Kevin Brazner said in a corporate video that the chain is focused on growing with franchise partners. A&W is the number one franchise restaurant chain in the United States, according to the company.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

Catherine Muccigrosso is the retail journalist for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she worked for several newspapers and McClatchy for over a decade.


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Some frustrated Bend restaurants say Uber Eats drove many unhappy customers

They say they never put their business on the platform, that it contains incorrect information – and it was difficult to reach them

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Two restaurants in Bend say food delivery platform Uber Eats, which is supposed to bring them more business, has done their business instead.

Juan Moreno, owner of Super Burrito in Bend, said on Monday that since his restaurant was listed on Uber Eats, he has had many unhappy customers.

“Uber Eats’ menu on their website is totally bogus. They have things that we don’t even do,” Moreno said. “They say we sell hot dogs and hamburgers, and we don’t, so people, when they order and come and get it, they’re frustrated with us.”

Moreno said he applied to be on the Uber Eats platform at the start of the pandemic, but never got a response.

“They never asked me if they could download a menu on their own. They don’t have permission from anyone,” Moreno said.

Another restaurant in Bend is having similar problems.

Jon Weber, owner of J-DUB, said he also never put his restaurant on the food delivery platform.

“We weren’t asked, and so some of these platforms took my menu items, or my entire menu without permission and put it online to their advantage, without any warning to us,” Weber said.

Weber added that his main concern is the way his food is presented to customers.

“It didn’t represent my product very well and speed was an issue,” Weber said of food delivery services.

Weber’s frustration stems from the fact that Uber Eats did not request permission to place their food on the delivery platform.

“It makes sense to ask ahead of time or partner with people – that they can’t take your property so to speak and then use it,” Weber said.

Moreno said he wants his business to be pulled from Uber Eats because it leads to unhappy customers.

When asked if he had contacted the food delivery company, he replied that he had tried going to their website, but it was “difficult to talk to them”.

NewsChannel 21 also struggled to get in touch with Uber Eats for a comment or response.

Some states have laws in place that help prevent these types of problems. California passed a law this year that requires food delivery services to enter into an agreement with restaurants in order to deliver their food.


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Hotels Suffered ‘More Than Restaurants’ During COVID Closures, Still Trying to Recover | DFA 90.7

The hospitality industry took a hit last year when closures halted travel plans. Travel is rebounding this summer as trapped Americans get vaccinated and leave home. Lynn Minges is the President and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Accommodation Association. She joins WFAE “Morning Edition” host Marshall Terry as part of our Rebuilding Charlotte series to give us a sense of where hotels are going this summer.

Marshal Terry: Welcome.

Lynn Minges: Thanks a lot, Marshall. Glad to be with you.

Thierry: Well, let’s start by going back to last year, first. I guess the first part of the pandemic, when the shutdown came, was the worst for hotels. How bad was it in North Carolina?

Minges: Well that was bad enough, but it’s interesting that I think a lot of people focused on the pandemic and the impact it was having on their personal lives. We were also very focused on restaurants that had to close entirely for indoor dining. And so they were closed. And I think there wasn’t as much emphasis on hotels.

Interestingly, hotels were never closed at any time during the pandemic. In fact, many of them housed aid workers, vaccination sites and medical workers who came to our state. They were never closed, but they were in fact heavily impacted. They have truly taken the brunt of the pandemic and have suffered greatly – if even possible – more than the restaurants. It’s kind of the unknown, underlying story that really hasn’t been told. So thank you for sharing that and covering that up this morning.

Thierry: Well, do you have any idea of ​​the loss in terms of jobs or hotels that are closing for good?

Minges: Well, we know this – I don’t know permanently – but we do know that when the pandemic first happened in March 2020, when it first hit, we had around 510,000 Carolinians. of the North working in the hotel sector. So that would include restaurants and hotels. And then, you know, immediately, around April, we only had about 288,000 left. So, literally, we laid off half of our workforce. These concerned restaurants and hotels, but had a significant impact.

If you think from the hotel’s point of view, meetings and conventions have been canceled. It was illegal to have more than 10 people in a hotel ballroom, which was just unheard of, something we never imagined because, you know, these hotel meeting spaces keep busy. and reserved, before COVID. It all stopped and so the business stopped. And when the business ceased, those owners and operators had no choice but to lay off employees.

So we ended up, you know, really working with about half of our workforce. There were hotels that had maybe five employees in one establishment. And these are hotels that, you know, employed maybe 100 to 200 people, depending on the scale.

It was tough, but we see them bounce back. Business is coming back. We’re still down in this industry – and it is restaurants and hotels – about 70,000 jobs. You know, if we weren’t facing a labor shortage, we might have come back to almost full capacity.

Thierry: You said things are starting to bounce back. When did hotels start to see things change?

Jodie valade

The Grand Bohemian in downtown Charlotte opened in August 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic.

Minges: Well, it’s been really interesting to follow. I think sometimes we try to generalize when we talk about hotels or restaurants. And what we’ve seen is that it really depends on their location. So from a hotel perspective, hotels that cater more to vacationers have done pretty well. Hotel accommodation on the North Carolina coast and in the mountainous region has completely rebounded. In fact, they are full and, in some cases, refuse visitors, either because they do not have the capacity to accommodate them or because they do not have staff to take care of the rooms and the rooms. guests. These have rebounded really well, even in the midst of the pandemic. People took vacations for leisure and certainly to places they could drive.

Urban areas like Charlotte, like Raleigh, these urban areas, and especially downtown Charlotte, have really suffered the most during this pandemic. And that’s largely because there was no business travel, basically. The workers worked remotely. People did not take trips for business or otherwise. There were no meetings or conventions. There were no live sporting events that normally attract people to cities and hotels. There were no festivals or events. And so, with all of this at a standstill, business entering hotels, especially in urban centers, has really, really suffered.

So we saw this in Charlotte, unfortunately. But things are starting to get better. It’s going to take time for it to bounce back. These business travel meetings and conventions are not just coming back. Rebuilding will be slow because many of these events are scheduled with a fairly long delay.

Thierry: What’s the biggest challenge right now that you hear from your members at the accommodation association – especially when it comes to hotels?

Minges: You know, without a doubt, the # 1 challenge and concern that I hear everywhere is the workforce. We simply do not have enough workers to fill the many jobs that we need to fill today. There are just a number of reasons for this, but largely from what I can say and what I hear from members is that the workers we moved in April 2020, they probably have pursued other careers in other sectors that were hiring. Many of our workers have left the industry. This is one of the biggest concerns we hear. So now they are slowly trying to replenish a workforce.

Thierry: What are you telling them to do to make it happen?

Minges: Oh my God. They do all kinds of. They organize job fairs, we have a job site. We recruit aggressively. Many of them offer signing bonuses and pay at rates that this industry has never seen before. So, for people interested in entering the hospitality industry, there has never been a better time. Extremely high wages – or at least compared to what these employers were paying before the pandemic.

But that also has the downside, you know, of increasing the overhead, the operating costs, and therefore the room rates. So it’s an interesting paradigm, but wages are currently at an all time high in our industry. So now is the right time to find a job in the hospitality industry.

The other thing I just want to make sure to point out is that even when we see that business has started to rebound, I think it’s important to note that many of these hotels have been struggling for 14 years. , 15 months without any income – and the bills have remained constant. The cost of running an operation has remained high, but there has been no income to compensate for it. It is therefore important to note that these companies have incurred significant debt and the payback period for them should be quite long.

Thierry: And when do you think the hotel industry will recover?

Minges: There are analysts who would say, you know, that we’re not really going to see a full, healthy rebound until maybe 2024. It’s going to take a while. But again, I think it depends on the nature of the hotel and their business model. If they depend on travel for meetings and conventions, it will be much slower. Or transient business travel – slower. But for leisure destinations, those that can attract leisure visitors, it is expected to come back faster.

Thierry: Are there any changes hotels made during the pandemic that they will keep in place after the pandemic is over?

Minges: I think there has been increased awareness of the health security measures that were put in place during COVID. We see many hotels doing contactless keys where the keys are sent to an app on the phone and those are used instead of handing a key to a guest. We are seeing places where you can wash your hands in restaurants and other facilities so that you don’t have to touch the taps to do so. We see automatic door openers and that sort of thing, elevator buttons that can be manipulated without having to physically touch them.

So we see a lot of evolution in this stuff. I think it’s going to settle down and continue. You know, sure, some of these things were happening already, but I think COVID and the increased sanitation awareness really accelerated this.

Thierry: Thanks for joining us.

Minges: Thanks a lot, Marshall. Great to be with you.

Thierry: Lynn Minges is President and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

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