District Restaurant News | Fall 2020

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TABLE OF CONTENTS | FALL 2020 04 Editor’s Note 06 Puerto Rican restaurant La Famosa opens 08 Opening a restaurant during a pandemic 11 Restaurant slowing—2020 restaurant data 13 Restaurants persevering amid COVID-19 16 Swizzle Chill TV launches Season 3 17 RAMW letter: Kathy E. Hollinger 23 Eastern Mediterranean Taim opens in Dupont Circle 26 Analysis: Five ways restaurants can help themselves during the pandemic 31 Serving customers fast: Time Study 2020 37 Restaurant industry seeks financial support 39 RAMMYS Winners 2020

BUSINESS Executive Editor Rick Zambrano contactrick@eaterypulse.net

About District Restaurant News District Restaurant News is the trade magazine for the fastpaced and competitive Washington, DC restaurant scene. A hotbed of design, concept and culinary innovation, Metro DC is becoming the place to experience cuisine at its best. It isn’t just for foodies: the DC area is also the perfect location for restaurant and culinary innovators to realize their dreams and build businesses. These visionaries, along with the larger industry of vibrant restaurant owners and operators, deserve expert tools to succeed. Powered by Eatery Pulse, District Restaurant News is published quarterly.

Swizzle Chill TV Photography Anthony Torres Assistant Editor Margaret McConnell Editorial Designer Ashley McCarty Contributors Eric Nomis To place an ad or for business development opportunities, contact sales@eaterypulse.net

Powered by Copyright 2020 Eatery Pulse News Media.

Photo above: La Famosa opens in Navy Yard. Photo by Scott Suchman. On the cover: Ensalada de Mariscos con tostones. Photo by Scott Suchman.

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Editor’s Note Restaurant operators are nearing an important juncture: the next season in restaurant life while navigating a pandemic. As autumn progresses, streatery life winds down. DMV diners will head indoors, and restaurants will face the next set of challenges. In August, foodservice consultancy Technomic forecasted that a “middle case” scenario would put restaurants somewhere around 21 percent up in sales in 2021 from where they end up this year. This would be a great estimate, except that it would mean that in 2021 restaurants will still be off 10 percent from 2019 levels. How can restaurants recover their sales? One way is to focus on having dining rooms as full as restrictions allow. Another is to expand a restaurant’s offerings and channels. Many creative restaurant owners are doing that with a ramp-up of delivery, and order-ahead pickup--a trend we’re covering in this issue. In another collaborative piece, we ask restaurant operators to share their experiences on the challenges of getting back up and running during COVID-19. What have they learned? What types of obstacles have they overcome? See what they have to say on page 13. How about you and your restaurant? Eatery Pulse created this magazine for local DMV operators. Share your own insights and lessons learned at newstips@ eaterypulse.net with an email heading that includes “DRN.” During these pandemic times, restaurant operators are harnessing their best game to survive and thrive in the fall, including reaching out to experts and specialists. They’re also balancing resources carefully. As someone who has spent 4 District Restaurant News

How can restaurants recover their sales? One way is to focus on having dining rooms as full as restrictions allow. Another is to expand a restaurant’s offerings and channels.

Restaurateurs, including Ruth Gresser of Pizzeria Paradiso, talk about overcoming COVID-19 challenges. Photo by Reema Desai.

two decades in food-related businesses, I’m pleased to let you know we’re here for you. Check out our abundant free resources and budget-friendly services. Through the Restaurant Resurgence program, we continue to offer all our digital magazines for free and have implemented a $99 consulting program via the Eatery Pulse Club. In addition, we have one free pro bono consultancy still available to a restaurant that grossed less than $700K last year. Send me your feedback, ideas or questions from your

restaurant email. We hope these insights from DC’s restaurant trade industry magazine will help you in your business.Send me your feedback, ideas or questions from your restaurant email. Correspondence from local restaurant operators are the highlight of my day. Sincerely,

Rick Zambrano Executive Editor contactrick@eaterypulse.net



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La Famosa unveiled By Eric Nomis

Batido, cafe frio, piña colada and more fun drinks headline beverage menu La Famosa restaurant opened in Navy Yard this week for all-day feasting. Its owner and chef, Joancarlo Parkhurst, is bringing the flavors of Puerto Rico to the heart of the Capitol Riverfront. The restaurant’s name pays tribute to the canning company Parkhurst’s family founded in 1921.

Menu: variety and tradition A tropical escape for Washington area visitors and residents, La Famosa will indulge guests in an eclectic menu of dishes that hearken back to the island’s history. It’s all here, from small bites to large plates, and traditional Puerto Rican preparations: • Pastelillos –savory and sweet fried turnovers • Bacalaito – a salt cod fritter served with salsa verde • Tripleta – a sandwich made with roast pork, beef and ham; and Jibarito, a sandwich served on flattened plantains instead of bread • Arroz con Pollo – chicken and rice served with beans • Chuleta Kan-Kan – a pork chop served with tostones (plantains) or rice and beans • Mofongo – a quintessential Puerto Rican meal of mashed fried plantains, served with a choice of pork, salt cod, shrimp or vegetarian picadillo • Chillo Frito – whole crispy snapper served with coconut rice and spicy slaw • Yuca En Escabeche – pickled yuca Photo left: Ensalada de Mariscos con tostones. Photo by Scott Suchman.

A colorful and bright La Famosa opens in Navy Yard, Washington, DC. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The restaurant’s dishes bring nostalgia and joy to Parkhurst, who spent much of his childhood cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. The drink menu at La Famosa includes batidos—tropical fruit blended with milk, sugar and ice—and a coffee program, comprising espresso drinks and iced coffees, headlined by ‘Café Frio’ cold brew and Coco Shakerato, made from locally-roasted Ceremony Coffee. La Famosa’s libations lean heavily on rum. The cocktail menu includes Guava Smash, Rum Negroni and, of course, the Piña Colada. A selection of white, red and rosé wines as well as draft, bottle and canned beer are also available. The diverse bar menu includes alcohol-free drinks as well.

Concept: ‘Not your mama’s mofongo’ The 60-seat restaurant was conceptualized by GrizForm Design Architects. Energetic

colors such as kiwi green and coral pink can be found across the 2,300 squarefoot space “juxtaposed with a Caribbeanflavored wall covering above,” according to an announcement. General Design Co. took point on branding, punctuating the design with a color palette, halftone images of pineapples and palm trees, and illustrations which were inspired by fruit stickers. Taglines that appear inside, including “not your mama’s mofongo” and “mi batido brings all the gente to the Yards” reflect La Famosa’s offbeat, playful feel. La Famosa operates from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Social distancing and reduced capacity during the pandemic will keep patrons safe. Outside, a 58-seat patio will be very much in demand while temperate weather holds. DoorDash and Uber Eats will fulfill delivery orders. District Restaurant News 7

Opening during a pandemic By Eric Nomis

Overcoming pandemicera challenges to open restaurants

The pandemic has added layers of complexity to restaurant operations, as owners and operators seek to ramp up their businesses and retake sales lost during lockdowns and restrictions. The challenge is heightened with so much riding on sanitization efforts, employee cleanliness and testing, not to mention compelling customers to comply with health guidelines. There are added procedures, added headaches and increased costs. 8 District Restaurant News

The second location of Indian fast casual Rasa debuted in Washington, DC during the pandemic. On August 1, co-founders Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman opened their second restaurant overall and first location in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood—an area with a large, diverse population and normally a big influx of tourists. It’s just adjacent to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, home to multiple US and international conferences. This year, Walter E. Convention Center has been closed since March, due to health ordinances. So the strong influx of visitors from around the globe to the Shaw and Mount Vernon neighborhoods did not materialize in the summertime. As the pandemic took hold, the restaurant faced additional challenges that led to delays in opening. As Vinod says, additional considerations needed to be made: new employee training went virtual. Design layouts and operational procedures were re-centered around social distancing and safety. Plus, with delivery & takeout becoming a larger part of the dining experience, rethinking and redesign became essential. “Despite these things, we felt that opening the second location was smoother overall as we now have proper procedures and operations in place,” says Vinod.

normal circumstances, he would expect higher sales at Tabla, but it has nonetheless done well. Recently, the restaurant moved to an all-day menu, creating additional dishes to bring in diners during the morning. Cheese-filled bread known as Khachapuris travel well and are perfect for morning business. Vinod of Rasa says he had frank discussions with investors and was able to renegotiate agreements to help survive during these tough times. The health crisis has made restaurant operators re-envision and revamp their openings. Preparing for business and solving problems amid unprecedented obstacles are skills that are currently defining DCarea operators’ survival. In addition, frank discussions with partners, co-owners, investors, employees and stakeholders strengthen operations and engage everyone involved.

Tabla, Washington’s second Georgian restaurant, also opened during the COVID-19 health crisis. Launching a second restaurant after Supra, which has received many accolades, has added challenges for the team. For example, Jonathan Nelms, co-owner of both restaurants, says two managers left prior to Tabla’s opening. After opening a fine-dining Georgian restaurant, the owners of Supra wanted to open the more casual Tabla. Large garage-style doors that open to the outside and bring in fresh air have been a godsend during the crisis. Customers have commented that they have eaten at Tabla even though they normally wouldn’t dine indoors, because of the fresh air circulated in by those doors. Both Tabla and Rasa have had to roll with the pandemic punches, get creative, and recalibrate during their openings. Nelms admits that under

Rasa opened August 1 in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood of Washington, DC. Photo by Rasa.

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• Growing takeout business for the long-term • Engaging customers and building lists • Increasing revenue lines • Improving menu marketing strategies


Learn more at takeout.arel7.com

Crunching the 2020 numbers now By Eatery Pulse Team

Recovery slows as the restaurant industry heads into fall Forty-three percent of full-service restaurant operators lack confidence that they will be in business six months from now if the status quo continues. Restaurant owners and operators have been battling the health crisis itself, variable state and local ordinances meant to restrain the spread of COVID-19 amid spikes in cases and hospitalizations, and consumer wariness of dining out during the pandemic’s phases. A new marketing campaign by the National Restaurant Association—Restaurant Revival—with brand new ads meant to encourage dining out, was blunted severely by a new report from the CDC suggesting a link between dining out and a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. District Restaurant News 11

A September analysis of summer trends points to troubling signs of a potential slowing in sales and a continued grim outlook by restaurant operators. After adjusting for seasonality, sales show signs of slowing from prior months when growth was in the doubledigit range. August sales were up 4.7 percent from July, which were up 4.1 percent from June. However, the rate of change in trendline is significant from the percentages in May and June, which saw growth of 31.3 percent and 27.2 percent respectively. Because seasonality is factored out, the month-to-month trend can better reflect sales recovery. At $54.6B, the slow crawl of improvement is far from a positive sign as the restaurant industry moves into fall. Last year’s autumn months saw approximately $65B in sales on average per month. This indicates that sales are trending down 16 percent from last year’s levels. According to a report of August sales by dataanalytics firm Black Box, chain restaurant sales decreased 12.3 percent from last year. The company’s analysis supports the current evidence that restaurants are running sales that are, at best, down in the teens from last year. It is important to note however that for the full year, restaurants will be more than 25 to 30 percent down in sales from last year, according to experts. According to the National Restaurant Association data, along with the 43 percent of full-service restaurant operators that think they may have to close, 33 percent of quickservice restaurant operators feel the same way. On the flip side, a total of 57 percent of quick-service and 67 percent of limited-service operators responded that it was highly or somewhat likely they would be in business in the next six months. Regarding a near-term rebound in sales, restaurant operators are not optimistic. Seventy-one percent of full-service operators, and 54 percent of quick-service operators, do not expect their sales to return to precoronavirus levels within the next six months. The inability of restaurants to fill dining rooms, 12 District Restaurant News

Restaurant industry sales show some signs of slowing. Photo by Louis Hansel.

whether due to restrictions or consumer caution, has hampered full-service operators even more than quick-service, putting them at a disadvantage. It’s likely that the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the country will continue to apply downward pressure on restaurant sales. Consumer attitudes play a huge role in restaurants’ ability to rebound, and consumers still feel unsafe and/or may be prevented by state or local government restrictions from interacting and socializing in pre-pandemic fashion. This has landed the restaurant industry in a tenuous position and has placed a premium on off-premises sales, on which QSR has a better handle. The Association reports that nationwide 100,000 restaurants could close permanently by the end of the year, representing about 17 percent of locations that existed at the start of 2020.

Persevering amid COVID-19 By Rick Zambrano

Restaurants in Washington, DC surmount significant obstacles The Metropolitan Washington Region has been a place to find some of the best and most diverse cuisine in the nation. After being recognized by Bon Appetit Magazine just a few years ago as a foodie destination, DC’s restaurateurs have turned up the volume on their creations and creativity. As most of us insiders in the restaurant industry understand, celebrity is no guarantee of success; even some of the area’s most high-profile restaurants have closed before and during the pandemic. If the DMV reflects national trends, we could see 17 percent of our eateries close by year’s end. Photo right: Supra, sister restaurant of Tabla, has posted sales significant sales declines compared to last year. Photo by Reema Desai.

The National Restaurant Association launches its Restaurant Revival campaign. Photo by Louis Hansel.

“We have been able to shift our attention from immediate crises to longer-term planning and weathering the next two years instead of the next two months,” says Ruth Gresser, Pizzeria Paradiso founder. “Our big concern is that two of our locations are center city and rely heavily on tourists and business travelers.” She points out that tourism was already on the decline in DC, and with the pandemic that has only been exacerbated. The pizza chain operates five locations in the city. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), an advocacy group for the local industry, kicked into high gear in March to help support restaurants and prevent a downward spiral as a result of the health crisis. Based on a recent update by its president and chief executive, Kathy E. Hollinger, RAMW’s energized approach has led to solid results. With RAMW’s support, DC restaurants have: become able to sell alcohol to go; capped delivery commission fees from third-party providers; 14 District Restaurant News

delayed regulatory fees, fines and taxes, and helped create payment plans with utility companies, to name some of the achievements. The cost structure of restaurants that operate in this market is high, with rents exceeding $50 per square foot. Many local restaurant operators have had their business revenue decline in large part due to COVID-19. There are additional occupancy-related costs and taxes, in addition to other fixed costs. Jonathan Nelms, coowner of Georgian restaurants Tabla and Supra, suspects sales at Tabla, which opened in July, would be greater without the pandemic, but the new eatery’s performance has been consistent.

Navigating sales declines and reduced staffing levels One of the biggest challenges has been managing labor. Some employees have been afraid to come back to work and others have been satisfied with unemployment checks. He

noted, “Two managers we were counting on to help open Tabla actually quit, one the week before we opened and the other just this week. One left the hospitality industry altogether, and the other is joining the Army.” However, Nelms said the second manager was instrumental in helping prepare for the opening. At Pizzeria Paradiso, Gresser says staff was reduced to 12 percent of pre-pandemic levels in March, but has now more than doubled to 25 percent. As restaurants operate under ongoing restrictions, and consumers shift preferences to takeout, managing labor becomes complex because very few staff are needed for lower volumes. If a restaurant cannot operate a robust dining room, labor will be cut. At the pizza chain, management has projected operating at 50 percent of pre-pandemic sales levels. What has been easier is the takeout and delivery game. Most of Tabla’s food is conducive to takeout, and packaging has been straightforward. Tabla expanded to an all-day menu with khachapuris headlining breakfast. Tabla is featuring Imeruli – cheese inside; Megruli, with cheese inside and on top; Guruli (which is served before 3 pm only), with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and fresh herbs in a crescent-shape, and Ajaruli, with egg stirred into the cheese. The Parkview neighborhood restaurant’s menu is now heavily khachapuri-based. The traditional Georgian bread filled with cheese travels well in pizza boxes. “Other dishes are also pretty straightforward to package, so we have not had too many problems with that. We did have to put a little oil in the bottom of the box with the khinkali (soup dumplings) to prevent them from sticking. But otherwise it’s been pretty simple.”

Safety and cleanliness In the Metropolitan Washington Region, restaurateurs have been enhancing safety protocols in order to honor their commitment to protect customers and employees. A majority of experts and the National Restaurant Association have advocated for strict adherence to safety. Putting that message first encourages consumers to consider dining out. In fact, a

recent marketing campaign by the National Restaurant Association, including new ads, urges consumers to return to “the sounds of restaurants” (https://youtu.be/3Jsfm9rD32M). In addition, restaurants now have the opportunity to certify their adherence to safety through ServSafeDining.org. The Association has provided increased resources and guidance: there are myriad resources on operating restaurants safely on the Association’s website, restaurant.org. As National Safety Month, September is the ideal time to augment the industry’s participation in safety training, resources and re-education. Local restaurant operators understand that instilling confidence is critical during the pandemic. “We immediately embraced the science of safety including masks, gloves, handwashing, distancing as much as possible, frequent sanitizing of surfaces, temperature checks, time off if symptoms arise, testing if exposed,” says Pizzeria Paradiso’s Gresser. “(We have been) Instilling the idea that personal safety is the primary concern of the restaurant and empowering staff members to make thoughtful decisions and take action to keep everyone safe.” At Tabla, an uncommon design element has revealed a safety advantage. While the restaurant has placed signage and labeled spacing with markers on the floor, the unusual doors have become a focal point of comfort for customers: “The best thing about the Tabla space from the health and safety perspective is the large roll-up garage doors,” observes Nelms. “They make it feel like you’re outside even if you’re inside with plenty of fresh air and sunshine.”

Recommended Resources Re-opening guidance: https://restaurant.org/ manage-my-restaurant/business-operations/ covid19/recovery ServSafe: https://restaurant.org/managemy-restaurant/business-operations/covid19/ recovery Local industry updates and advocacy by RAMW: https://www.ramw.org/blog District Restaurant News 15

Eatery Pulse launches Season 3 of Swizzle Chill TV Local firm bolsters Washington, DC area restaurant ecosystem Washington, DC (September 21, 2020) Eatery Pulse Media has launched Season 3 of Swizzle Chill TV - DC Food, Drink and Lifestyle Show, an online and social media show that spotlights the best of living and chilling in DC, with an emphasis on the local restaurant industry. The information services and consulting firm shines a spotlight on restaurants and reveals the stories of local restaurants and bars. In the past, Swizzle Chill TV has featured Bocas Botanas, Spark at 12, Denizens Brewing, Copa Kitchen & Bar, and Hot Lola’s. A focus on content that informs the local food industry Eatery Pulse Media also runs District Restaurant News, a trade industry publication for Washington, DC area independent restaurant operators. This magazine takes the place of Eatery Pulse News DC, which, two years ago, was transformed into Eatery Pulse News, a nationwide restaurant news resource. (eaterypulse.com) The firm’s local focus helps restaurants gain attention during critical moments for the local foodservice industry. Eatery Pulse also supports restaurants through consulting (arel7), and recently initiated a local pro bono program for smallersized restaurants during the COVID-19 health crisis. Swizzle Chill TV has covered restaurants specializing in a diversity of cuisines, including tapas, Caribbean food, international cuisines, as well as conventions like the RAMMY Award ceremonies and MetroCooking DC. “Restaurants are the cornerstones of many communities and create much-needed jobs, and they deserve to be in the spotlight,” says Rick Zambrano, Eatery Pulse Media editor and consultant. “In addition to the support of local diners, they need tools to succeed. For years, marketing is an area that has been underfunded for local restaurants; so too, have technology and growth fundamentals. We’re proud to be part of an ecosystem that can help restaurants gain or regain strong footing.” How to follow and support Swizzle Chill TV’s spotlight on the DMV food industry DMV foodies can follow all updates and stories 16 District Restaurant News

on Facebook.com/swizzlechill or by signing up at subscribe.swizzlechill.com. Season 3’s premier can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/ swizzlechill/videos/338351757356361/ Eatery Pulse has revealed that it is developing a network of sponsors, including real estate developers and food, beverage & lifestyle brands, to bring local restaurants into the spotlight. In a collaborative environment, sponsors contribute modest amounts that make a combined tremendous impact on the visibility and stability of restaurants in their communities. Sponsors’ contributions toward the production and dissemination of compelling video content for their restaurant neighbors will also bring increased visibility to their own brands. New sponsors can collaborate with their peers in supporting their local restaurants at sponsor. swizzlechill.com. Local followers can get behind this homegrown production by becoming supporters or members at supporter.swizzlechill.com. With its agile and flexible production unit, Eatery Pulse Media estimates it could help promote more than one dozen local restaurants per month. About Swizzle Chill TV Swizzle Chill TV - DC Food, Drink and Lifestyle Show is a celebration of food and drink in Metropolitan Washington. Each episode highlights some of the best of drinking, dining, living—“chilling”—in the nation’s capital, and introduces viewers to exciting facets of life in Washington, DC and its surrounding suburbs. As part of the Eatery Pulse Network and EPN Cafe portfolios, Swizzle Chill publishes videobased updates, interviews and exploration of Metropolitan Washington in web format and on social media. About Eatery Pulse Media Eatery Pulse Media is a primary source of national restaurant industry news and content that provides information services, consulting and a creative customcontent studio for business. As a multi-brand, multimedia trade publisher, it empowers foodservice professionals, business owners, and foodies to further engage and celebrate food and drink topics. Eatery Pulse generates visually-compelling published formats and ultra highdefinition video broadcasts to report industry news, and to tell the unique and impactful stories of foodservice organizations, businesses and restaurants. Based in the Washington, DC area, the publisher operates the Eatery Pulse Network, EPN Cafe, arel7 studio team and arel7 restaurant consulting.


1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701

September 14, 2020


Greetings from Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. The past six months have been tumultuous to say the least, and I hope you and yours are finding strength and a path forward. I want to thank you for your continued work sharing updates about our industry with your audience, and for bringing light to the challenges faced by our region’s hospitality businesses and professionals this year. Since mid-March, as the pandemic began to take its devastating toll on our communities, my team has worked tirelessly on behalf of both our members and the industry as a whole. So much of my communication has been focused inward, guiding operators, so I thought I would take a few minutes to provide a concise update as to what we’ve achieved since March, where we are today, and what you can expect from RAMW as our region works to achieve the benchmarks of Phase Three of reopening. You may have received emergency relief correspondence from me or RAMW previously. I want to be respectful of your time, so let me know if these updates are useful. If you would email media@ramw.org with the subject line Recovery Updates, we will alert you with occasional operational, reopening, and relief correspondence. This year marks RAMW’s 100th anniversary - a milestone we hoped to be celebrating, but that is still important to acknowledge as we are a voice for the restaurant and foodservice industry -- a century strong. We gathered our Board of Directors in January where we devised a plan that recognized the need to raise up everyone that contributes to our incredible local business community, and a very real need to evolve our signature programs, to actualize diversity, inclusion, and equity. We have not strayed from our goals. Rather, the crises we continue to face this year have accelerated our work, and we find ourselves leaning on shared learning from past challenges like the aftermath of 9/11 and painful civil unrest. We continue to advocate for and promote the Metropolitan region’s dynamic food scene, spread across Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. This year though, more than ever, we have solicited support from partners, the public, and legislators from the city, county and state levels, all of whom have heard our call and collaborated in impressive ways to ensure there is relief available for operators, that relief is not stymied by regulatory burdens, and that businesses and their employees are protected.

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1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701 LEADING AN INDUSTRY IN NEED


The health crisis that continues to affect us all began in earnest locally in March, when we immediately mobilized as an organization to identify and respond to urgent and varied small business concerns. We began what quickly became real time, hourly and daily response tactics to ensure all of our stakeholders were empowered with current information and the resources necessary to make essential decisions as their operations were paused. We provided legislators context, gathering real time information from our restaurants and their employees to help prioritize the strategic measures that provided relief to small, independent restaurant businesses. We began, and continue to, collect specific data shared with both the CFO of the District of Columbia and elected officials across the region, contributing to revenue projections and helping paint a holistic economic forecast of the industry’s recovery. In the first few weeks, we worked closely with members of the Council and regional leaders to ensure our industry received critical immediate relief measures that met the unique needs of our industry. As a direct result of our advocacy efforts, legislation was passed that: ● Allowed for the sale of alcohol for takeout and delivery; ● Placed a cap on third party delivery fees; ● Delayed regulatory fees, fines and taxes; ● Established A Tenant Payment Plan for mortgage and rent relief; ● Created a moratorium on commercial evictions and commercial rent increases; ● Created deferred payment or repayment policies among the region’s utilities companies, and; ● Provided forgiveness on late penalties for specific tax filings. These became just some of a growing list of financial and operational challenges that we took on to the benefit of strained employers. But protecting the region’s foodservice industry has, and continues to be, only part of its recovery. In April, I was asked to co-chair the hospitality arm of the ReOpen DC Task Force alongside Chef José Andrés. Gathering and conveying the urgent needs of all types of restaurant businesses was essential, and RAMW organized a virtual town hall for nearly 200 voices from every side of the industry. Information gathered there, and through constant, daily engagement of operator and supply chain businesses, directly informed the recommendations put forth by the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Health, ABRA, DCRA, the Office of Planning, and the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife. In May we worked efficiently with our longstanding partner Events DC to approve funding that extended the DC Microgrant program, providing access to over one thousand additional small 18 District Restaurant News

1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701 info@ramw.org businesses that had been left out of its initial phase due to a shortage of funds in comparison to the number of applicants. During that time, we were also able to collaborate with the city’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Main Streets organizations to facilitate PPE requests for restaurants to distribute to staff. Through the end of May, we built a foundational structure upon which area employers, employees and supply chain stakeholders have been able to navigate public and private grant and loan options. A strong network of RAMW’s partners and industry professionals helped guide and support restaurants, including partners at banks, accounting firms, and through our national umbrella of resources available through the National Restaurant Association. We continued to support restaurants and employees as they navigated the challenges associated with furloughs and layoffs, urging the District to move quickly as the CARES Act increased unemployment payments temporarily to $600. We established a Worker Relief Fund, a partnership between the RAMW Education Foundation “Educated Eats” and Hook Hall Helps, which to date has raised and distributed more than $500,000 since March, providing thousands of meals and opportunities for restaurants to volunteer to activate as community kitchens utilizing modest funding to be able to open their doors and bring a few employees back on payroll. The operation continues in a modified way still in September. A LOCAL VOICE CALLING FOR NATIONAL CHANGE Through spring, national relief was a major focus for restaurant advocacy as it became clear that additional PPP funding, and major fixes to PPP, were both critical to reach restaurants. As the National Restaurant Association and the Independent Restaurant Coalition both pushed nationally for Federal support and relief, RAMW also launched a federal relief campaign rooted directly in the needs of the local, independent restaurant community that focused on making PPP work, rent relief, business interruption insurance and more. We worked with the National Restaurant Association, learning best practices and relief approaches in other jurisdictions, and in supporting some of our larger local members, worked to convince Congress to liberalize the requirements for PPP loan forgiveness. RAMW also engaged our local restaurant community to join in our regional campaign, reaching congressional legislators and urging local mayors and state leaders to push their national counterparts to consider new and updated relief options. We built support at home, working closely with D.C. Councilmember McDuffie on a new $100 million grant program that was devised and passed unanimously, creating a mechanism through which additional funds can be distributed as they are made available through a CARES Act extension. Equally important, we spent a great deal of energy working with national organizations to provide a clear call to action for locals to participate in the broad support of the PPP Flexibility Act, effectively leveraging our position in the capitol region to help all American restaurants. District Restaurant News 19

1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701 info@ramw.org During this time, our city and our nation also began a public conversation around race following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others. As an organization and an industry we stand in solidarity with protesters taking to our streets demanding justice. Many of our restaurants have banded together to provide resources for groups leading the movement, and we are committed to amplifying their voices. Others have been damaged in the process, and we have constructed networks of agency and financial resources to help them repair and rebuild. BUILDING PATHWAYS FOR ALL The conversation that started during our Board meeting in January continues today as we act to create positive change for Black and Minority-owned small businesses. We are working with local leaders to devise legislative approaches to issues affecting minority owned businesses. We have created a membership program specifically for Black and minority-owned small businesses that is free for the next two years and allows them to tap into resources, training and promotional tools to position them for success through all phases of reopening and recovery. We continue to work with the organizers of Black Restaurant Week to add visibility and use our resources and existing channels to benefit their incredible work. And our team has started and participates in conversations with minority-owned businesses to hear directly from them what they need to survive right now, and to thrive in the future. VISIBILITY AND OPPORTUNITY Phase Two of reopening has been encouraging, enabling restaurants to increase the scope of their service, bring more people safely back to work, and get back to doing what they love, serving and nourishing our communities. We have taken the opportunity to also build a stronger, more dynamic promotional program to do our part to support this stage of their recovery. Since 2001 we have organized Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week. It began as a response to the economic fallout following the attacks on 9/11, and this year, with so much already lost, we literally doubled our efforts, building an extended program that gave restaurants a chance to serve diners in-house, via carry out, or through delivery, for a full two weeks. We were thrilled with the results, seeing more than 30,000 diners opt in with reservations alone, not to mention takeout and delivery support, and show their support to more than 250 participating restaurants. Working with ABRA and other agencies, we rolled out a program of Streateries with an emphasis on minimal bureaucratic hurdles to participate, along with temporary changes to allow additional “pop up� locations, create additional carry out, delivery and on premise dining opportunities, again with minimal bureaucratic hurdles to participate. This collaborative effort brought over 550 restaurants into the Streateries program. 20 District Restaurant News

1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701 In addition, we worked to consolidate, perfect and make permanent in the District the privilege of info@ramw.org alcohol carry out and delivery through the budget process and standardized the tax rate of 10% such that it applies to both on premise and off premise sales of alcohol, rather than the 10.25% assessed on purchases from traditional off premise retailers. WHERE WE GO FROM HERE As we all work towards achieving the benchmarks required for Phase Three of reopening, RAMW remains committed to maintaining the viability and vibrancy of our restaurant community, which means we have our work cut out for us. We are in regular conversation with elected officials and government agencies, helping inform their priorities as they shape local legislative agendas, ongoing relief, and budgets for the fall. Among our key objectives is to extend the current allowances related to outdoor dining, streamline permitting for all necessary operational changes, and provide funding for heaters and canopies to extend outdoor dining for as long as practicable through the colder months. We want to build a financial support system that will empower restaurants to operate with confidence through late fall, if possible, and are exploring what those logistics look like to maximize this traditionally seasonal revenue. We remain steadfast in our drive to elevate and actualize new levels of equity for Black and other minority-owned businesses in our region. We are utilizing our Education Foundation (501c3) Educated Eats to reprogram and develop new resources, offer membership support, training, and scholarships, and are diligent in our work to amplify voices that need to be heard among decisionmakers both in our own organization and among our partners, and in the media. We are dedicated to the intentional steps we set forth as an organization to include being deliberate with our spend with Black and minority-owned businesses, around representation on our Board of Directors and committees, and in all of our programming. We are in conversations and identifying financial institutions and partners who recognize the hurdles Black and minorityowned businesses have to go through to have access to capital, credit, and resources. And we are creating platforms for our industry to engage as leaders in these areas, starting with a working group of restaurant operators who can work together to identify ways that their colleagues can effect change in their own organizations, thinking, and communities. And through it all, we are still determined to celebrate our industry, despite things no one could have predicted at the start of this year. I have learned a lot about resiliency, empathy, drive, compassion, and the values that define our restaurants. Challenged in countless ways, I have watched restaurants, their employees, their vendors, and their neighbors, come together to find

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1625 K St., NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20006 T 202.331.5990 F 202.659.8701 solutions, to benefit causes larger than themselves. With that in mind, our Board of Directors, our info@ramw.org Executive Committee, and our esteemed panel of judges, decided recently to move forward with our annual RAMMY Awards. We have a long road to recovery ahead of us, but I hope you will consider tuning in to the virtual ceremony on Sunday, September 20 as we take a moment to acknowledge some of the incredible work that has been done by our restaurants in the past year. We will be right back to work the next day, and I look forward to sharing more good news about reopening and recovery with you very soon. Sincerely, Kathy E. Hollinger President & CEO Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington

Reprinted with permission from RAMW.


Q&A | Phil Petrilli, Taim CEO Eastern Mediterranean fast casual debuts Dupont Circle location Eastern Mediterranean restaurant chain Taim opened a new Dupont Circle location in Washington, DC September 10. Known for its falafel, kebabs, cauliflower shawarma, mezze, and humus with street food inspiration, the fast-casual chain continues to expand, already having four locations in New York City and the existing DC spot in the Georgetown Business District. Taim is also growing its menu, with new bowls on rice flavored with cumin seeds and hummus. Hear from Taim’s CEO Phil Petrilli on opening a second DC restaurant while managing business during the COVID-19 crisis. District Restaurant News: Please tell us about the opening and how business is doing so far. Phil Petrilli: We opened the restaurant officially on September 10th, but the day before we held a fundraiser to support some of the fantastic outreach programs that the Dupont Circle Farmers Market supports. In this specific case, we raised money for a program that buys fresh food from the market vendors and distributes it to child care centers and senior care organizations, thereby supporting those most in need, both generally and now even more so. We really didn’t know what to expect given the current environment. We were blown away, as were the folks from Freshfarm who operate the market, by the number of people who came out to support. Since our official launch on the 10th, we are actually exceeding the projections we had set prior to opening. Our expectations were moderate, given that so many of the offices and businesses around us are still closed and that a lot of the residents left in the early part of the pandemic and haven’t yet returned. DRN: Compare opening your second restaurant in DC to your other openings; does it seem harder or easier as you add more units? Also, how has it been impacted by the pandemic?

Fast-casualTaim expanded its menu with cumin-flavored Rice Bowls. Photo by Taim.

Ha - good question. Operationally, it was a lot easier as we were able to provide opportunities for staff from our first restaurant to move up and assume more responsibility, along with the benefits of doing so. About 1/3 of our staff came from our original Georgetown location, so we opened with a team who already knew how to perfectly prepare and serve our amazing food and take care of our guests’ needs. It was also easier from a brand introduction perspective, in that we are not a newbie in town this time around. People have gotten to know us in Georgetown - or knew us from New York City and now live in the area - and this has helped a lot. I would say the impact from the pandemic is evident mostly in two areas: 1) There are fewer people in the area now than there were seven months ago. With so many offices closed—you really feel the emptiness in the streets during the daytime especially. 2) People still are not venturing out much. District Restaurant News 23

Our ability to reach people in the digital space is always secondary to someone walking by, seeing a new place is about to open, getting a look at the amazing design of the space and being intrigued to come in and check it out. With fewer people out and about right now, that certainly makes it a tougher job to let people know, “Hey, we are open!”. DRN: If applicable, were you able to access local resources or work with your investors or landlords to make it more successful or viable? And tell us two things you learned from the experience that could help other operators. First and foremost, we have a great landlord who understands fully the environment in which we all are operating right now. We could have opened a month earlier but really wanted to get past Labor Day and hope that some of that office population returned. They were great to work with on that, as well as on other ways to lessen the burden we are carrying right now, with sales being depressed versus normal times. We are incredibly grateful for the support and the true spirit of partnership they have brought to this whole situation. As for two things we can tell others, I would say that, first, there is no perfect model for addressing the pressures we are under. It really is brand- and location-specific. Some of the things that have worked well for us revolve around reaching farther than our front door and the traditional delivery zones, to make up for the loss in normal revenue. We deliver group orders out to the suburbs. We have pop-ups in farmers’ markets around town. We actively look to meet any new customer where they are and where operationally we can do so while maintaining the highest quality of food for them. Second, now is the time to really remember why you got into this business in the first place. We feed people; that is way more than just a functional effort. It is a gift to elevate the functional into something intangible, even blissful. When you do that well, you build friendships and loyalty for years to come. When we come out of the pandemic, those relationships are going to play a big role in how much faster we recover than the general

Taim opens in Dupont Circle, its second local restaurant after Georgetown. Photo by Taim.

industry, because we’ve focused on treasuring every single guest, every time they order. DRN: How does your Mediterranean concept differ from others in the Metropolitan Washington area? What are popular, new items that locals should try? What makes our food truly stand out is the elevated cooking with high quality and fresh ingredients. We were founded by a chef and we live and breathe the standards that come with making beautiful food from scratch every single day. We use traditional culinary techniques and the very best ingredients around. We make our hummus, for example, sometimes four times a day; you just won’t find creamier, fresher hummus anywhere. As for other popular items, we recently launched (to much pent-up customer demand) a warm, in house toasted cumin blended Jasmine rice bowl that has been really popular, as has been the equally delightful hummus bowl. Our falafel will always reign supreme but our Impossible Kebabs and Cauliflower Shawarma are some of our other fan favorites. Our smoothies are pretty spectacular, too, and made 100% from ingredients you know and can actually pronounce - just real fruit and great milks and milk alternatives. All our meals are highly customizable, which our guests appreciate. Our DC locations are available for dine-in or outside seating, delivery and takeout. To order, head to taimfalafel.com.

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Five ways restaurant operators can help themselves during the pandemic By Rick Zambrano

26 District Restaurant News

Restaurateurs should embrace marketing. Photo by Spencer Davis.

Creatively reinvent yourself. Photo by Sincerely Media.

These are tough times indeed; there’s no end in sight, and thus far, no silver lining. With the pandemic ongoing, restaurant and bar owners cannot project whether or when dining will open. In this environment, restaurant operators need customer support; but that is not enough: they need to generate support from within. Recovering sales may seem insurmountable, when many customers may not want to dine out, and those who do may not be protecting themselves and others adequately.

Slow down; make a plan Attacking this tough sales environment from all sides may be a restaurant owner’s first impulse. But pausing to formulate a plan could be more helpful. I’ve seen restaurants close for a few weeks just to get their bearings, and then emerge on more solid footing. Of course, many restaurants cannot afford the lost revenue of closing for even one day right now, but shutting down is not required in order to formulate a plan with input from key staff.

Avoid the adrenaline rush from running around and trying 100 different things. You, the restaurant owner, need to take a deep breath, and create a plan that includes your defined goals. Only then can you develop ways to attack your sales plan. You’ll save energy and resources by focusing on key strategies, such as invigorating your email marketing game, or investing in your social media portfolio. Focus on what’s important and what will get you incremental sales.

Don’t insist customers come inside your space; meet them where they are In talking with a colleague recently, we discussed how some dining rooms are reopening, but in other areas, customers are not ready to come back inside. How can you move forward without your dining room? Look no further than some of the largest restaurant chains: Chipotle, Del Taco and even Outback have been able to regain lost sales almost exclusively by offering enhanced takeout.

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Think about it: what is easier to accomplish? Getting customers who may be concerned about their health to return to your dining rooms, or informing them of all the ways they can enjoy your freshly-cooked meals? One of the best traits of successful restaurateurs is the uncanny ability to put themselves in customers’ shoes. Posting repeatedly on Facebook and barraging your customers daily with emails proclaiming that your dining room is open may be counterproductive. Local, independent restaurants are emulating what’s happening on the national stage with larger chains: they’re embracing curbside, order-ahead pickup and delivery. Meet your customers where they are and attract new customers who are looking for safety and convenience.

Embrace marketing Although having a “marketer” walk into your restaurant every day to peddle one solution/ product or another can get annoying and timeconsuming, marketing can be your best friend. Those restaurant owners who rely solely on their community for support and have not embraced marketing are missing out. Now more than ever, marketing is key to communicating what you have to offer and attracting customers. First, develop a strategic marketing plan, which is goal-based. Second, devise a way to increase marketing with the resources you have. For example, let’s say you’ve always invested in PR, and now you’re adding email marketing and video marketing. You’ll have to re-allocate resources to cover this expansion. Social media is one of the most inexpensive ways to reach new audiences. “Sponsored” posts can reach others in your area, and “organic” (traditional) posts will help you reach your existing fan base. Email marketing is another key tool used by local restaurateurs including Gravitas, the Eat Well restaurant group and Emilie’s.

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Optimize your takeout menu and methods to increase demand “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” Ask yourself, if your dining room were to shut down for a year, could you continue to operate in takeout mode only? The answer, as proven by statistics, is perhaps not—but perhaps. At last tally by Black Box, a data-analytics firm, fine-dining restaurants were down 40 percent in sales, and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) were within 5 points of last year’s sales. The QSR advantage is the well-oiled machine of takeout. Pre-pandemic, they were already known for drive-thrus and order-ahead pickup, which are now at a premium. Enhancing their takeout strategy to overcome the current downward trend in restaurant dining, they’ve focused heavily on safety. Again, consider taking a step back. Is your menu ideal for today’s takeout? Can you optimize that, and can you add new indemand menu items? How is your packaging? Is it sturdy and leak-proof enough survive the trip to customers’ homes? Are your bags sealed with tamper-evident tape? To increase demand, a restaurant must not only provide what people want in takeout form, but also reach more hungry customers. A business partner or consultant can help you achieve this second, crucial goal. In this “new normal” business environment, you want new ideas and new tactics. You need to hear things you haven’t heard before, and listen more closely to ideas you may have heard. Sometimes, you’ve encountered a concept you want to adopt, but you’re too busy fighting fires or delivering lunch orders yourself. Be open-minded.

Creatively reinvent yourself People often seek to reinvent themselves through a process of self-improvement, including education, spirituality, exercise, and so on. Restaurants can go through an analogous renewal process. They can adapt to new dining trends, changing neighborhood

demographics and a health crisis like this one. This restaurant transformation can be realized through modifying service style, adding pickup windows, revamping design, implementing virtual-only operations, totally rebranding— there are endless possibilities, many of which do not require huge investment. Notable self-reinventions include restaurants like the Pig, which transformed itself from fine dining to takeout BBQ, noted Acme Paper on social media. Fine-dining establishments, probably more than other concepts, can leverage their pedigrees and chefs to transform themselves into quick service or virtual restaurants (brands for delivery only). Fast-casual 3.0 restaurants, which are chefoperated and are created for a strong takeout business have risen as classic examples of how chefs can think outside the norm. Chiko, a local Chinese-Korean fusion restaurant, with its robust takeout business and dedicated takeout windows, is an example. Virtual restaurant brands are currently operating in the third-party delivery space, including Uber Eats and DoorDash. Washington City Paper recently highlighted a seafood restaurant that uses virtual brands to spotlight non-seafood dishes on its menu: MidAtlantic Seafood in Takoma Park has an agreement with Uber Eats to launch these virtual restaurant concepts. You won’t find the names on any sign or any online menu, only in the third-party app. Virtual restaurant concepts do not only exist in apps, and they’re not relegated to Uber Eats or third-party delivery providers. Restaurants can leverage virtual restaurant brands in many ways now that consumers are primarily shopping online and in digital formats for their food. Rick Zambrano has nearly two decades supporting food businesses, and has experience in menu analysis, menu rollout support, consulting, financial analysis, video marketing, writing, and research. As a thought leader specialized in the areas of menu analysis and restaurant trends, his insights appear in research reports, foodservice magazines and business periodicals.

Don’t insist customers come inside your restaurant. Some will be ready and many others expect you to come to them during the pandemic. Photo by Daniela Araya.

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Gerrard Street Kitchen Episode. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media. Video embed: Swizzle Chill TV at Gerrard Street Kitchen at Darcy Hotel.

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30 District Restaurant News

Rakuten Ready Time Study By Eric Nomis

Independents can adopt chain strategies for providing customers ondemand food efficiently

According to an annual assessment by Rakuten Ready in its “2020 Time Study,” order-head pickup efficiency has become increasingly important in today’s time-starved and pandemic-concerned world. While the results were a bit surprising this year, QSR was the only segment that maintained top time ratings. The study examines the wait times among several restaurant chains juxtaposed against customer satisfaction scores. This year, Rakuten Ready added a new casual-dining segment for assessment and evaluation. District Restaurant News 31

Dunkin’ was among quick-service chains that delivered quick wait times and high satisfaction scores. Photo by Dunkin’ Brands.

“Consumer behavior has changed, so brands must continue to innovate around contactless—it’s not just a short term trend, it is here to stay,” noted Rakuten Ready. Among QSRs, Chipotle’s 1:54 time was the best last year and also this year. Chipotle also delivered some of the highest CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) scores—not surprising for a chain that has invested heavily in the digital experience. Chick-fil-A almost fell from grace, with a wait time three-fold longer than last year’s. Yet this chicken QSR has such high customer loyalty and brand recognition that it was able to maintain a high score. Customers were certainly forgiving of the longer wait times; in fact, Rakuten Ready was quick to point out that the sharp increase in demand for Chick-fil-A’s products may have contributed to these times. Rakuten Ready, which is a company that provides app-based solutions for order-ahead 32 District Restaurant News

pickup, identified Starbucks, Domino’s, Dunkin’ and Taco Bell as additional chains that were able to deliver short wait times and high customer satisfaction scores. Considering that the annual growth rate for demand for order-head pickup was 35 percent last year and increased to nearly 60 percent this year, it’s clear that the COVID-19 health crisis has multiplied the demand for order-ahead pickup. It’s a “tidal wave of demand,” suggests the report—one that is unlikely to dissipate. Among casual-dining restaurant chains (to which Panera Bread has now been added), TGIF posted the best wait time at 3:09. While it beat Panera’s time, it did not overcome the high customer satisfaction score Panera posted. Applebees and Buffalo Wild Wings were additional restaurant chains included by Rakuten Ready in this category.

Drive-thru and curbside In the drive-thru arena, Starbucks was a clear winner at a wait time of 2:51. Pizza Hut also performed admirably with a wait time of 5:21, although the experience was noted as somewhat confusing. Meanwhile, “Starbucks had a consistently easy and positive experience across all trips.” When it was time to deliver curbside, casualdining chains demonstrated an ability to get orders delivered within three minutes. A surprise to some might be Olive Garden, which posted a 2:59 wait time. Panera Bread delivered a higher CSAT score although it did not meet Olive Garden’s time. Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill was among the casual-dining restaurant chains that also produced short wait times.

Looking ahead The process of running a restaurant amid a pandemic and in an environment of higher customer expectations is not easy. And the competition isn’t just other restaurants. Grocers are also promoting curbside pickup and delivery, increasing offerings and creating a streamlined path for consumers to get their food on demand. This makes orderahead pickup an essential battleground for restaurants. One strategy is to focus on wait times and deliver on that metric. This goes for all types of restaurants, whether chains or independent. Another Rakuten Ready recommended practice is to allocate sufficient resources and collateral to the pickup experience; examples are clearly marked signage and team-member training. Promoting the order-ahead program is another crucial practice. After investing time and restaurant man-hours to institute or streamline a program, the way to get traction is to get the word out. For additional channel-specific recommendations in the Rakuten Ready whitepaper, navigate to https://bit.ly/2SluNZy to learn more. https://pages.rakutenready.com/2020TimeStudy.html

Coming Soon HOLIDAY ISSUE Holiday treats Cocktail creativity Virtual selling Boosting item profit and more!

WINTER ISSUE Leveraging comfort foods Hot drinks for hot sales Industry forecast Operators talk resurgence and more!



As Q3 wraps up, more consumers expect restaurants to adopt safety measures. Q2 %


Fewer tables, greater distance between chairs/tables



Restrictions on number of diners



Fewer self-serve options (salad bars, coffee-finishing bars)



Restrictions on self-serve beverage



Contactless delivery



Source: Technomic Industry Insights (Week of Sept 21, 20)

Photo by Prudence Earl Loy.

34 District Restaurant News


Are restaurant operators ready to play their best off-premises game? Have you visited restaurants for the following since it became available? Drive-thru at a restaurant Takeout Curbside pickup Third-party delivery Direct delivery Dine-in indoors Dine-in outdoors Alcohol delivery

55% of consumers ages 18-34 52% of consumers ages 18-34 Base: 1,000 consumers (Aug. 19-22, 2020) Source: Technomic Economic Impact Navigator Program

Photo by Robert Penaloza.

District Restaurant News 35

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY BAROMETER What is the state of business conditions now?

Projection of 2020 restaurant industry sales loss in US

Month-to-month sales grains (seasonally-adjusted) in US restaurant industry sales July-August

Percent of restaurant operators who do not expect their sales to return to pre-coronavirus levels within the next 6 months Source: National Restaurant Industry analysis (restaurant.org)




67% 43%


36 District Restaurant News


If business conditions continue at current levels, how likely is it that your restuarant will still be in business 6 months from now? Source: National Restaurant Industry analysis (restaurant.org)

Restaurant industry seeks financial support By Eric Nomis

Congressional action urged before elections recess as 17 percent of restaurants may close by year’s end

District Restaurant News 37

The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congress and the Trump administration today, making the case for additional support to small businesses, including restaurants. The Association had put together a Blueprint for Recovery for the restaurant industry earlier this year, that included support from the federal government. Now, updated analysis shows that nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed currently, and suggests that a majority of these could close permanently by year’s end. The situation for restaurants has become dire. A new survey by the Association found that sales at restaurants were down 34 percent on average. In addition, the restaurant industry as a whole could lose $240B in sales in 2020 (from 2019 levels). This aligns with an estimate from Technomic, which indicates the overall foodservice industry, including B&I contract foodservice, travel and education, could lose $250B to $300B under its Middle Case scenario. (Note: Technomic’s base of sales exceeds that of the Association by more than $60B). The analysis conducted by the Association shows that restaurants lost about $165B in revenue from March, when lockdowns began, to July. That deficit could increase by another $75B by year’s end. By that time, about 17 percent of restaurants could potentially close permanently. This projection presents a more grim outlook than the 13 percent closure forecast for 2020 by Foodservice Results. The Association also notes that restaurants are staffing at only about 71 percent of prepandemic levels. What’s more, with sharp deficits in sales, operators are finding it harder to manage margins, and 60 percent of them say their total operational costs are higher than before the COVID-19 crisis. “This survey reminds us that independent owners and small franchisees don’t have time on their side,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the Association. “The ongoing disruptions and uncertainty make it impossible for these owners to plan for next week, much less next year.” 38 District Restaurant News

Congressional action urged as 17 percent of restaurants expected to close. Photo by Todd Trapani.

The Washington-based advocacy group also revealed that 40 percent of restaurant operators consider it unlikely they will be in business six months from now. As legislators leave for the elections season, the National Restaurant Association requested bipartisan support for small business. It asked Congress to consider stand-alone bills before its recess, so that restaurants can access immediate relief. In an effort to spike consumer interest, the Association recently launched Restaurant Revival, a marketing campaign to promote dining out at restaurants. This effort was somewhat blunted by a recent study from the CDC, suggesting a link between dining out and a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

Congratulations RAMMYS 2020 Winners!

Chiko Shrimp and Grits. Photo by Chiko.

The 2020 Honorary Milestone RAMMY Award was given to Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Co. for 30 years, Vace Italian Delicatessen for 40 years, and Mrs. K’s Toll House for an incredible 90 years. Upscale Brunch of the Year: Trummer’s Casual Brunch of the Year: All-Purpose – Shaw Favorite Gathering Place of the Year: The Salt Line Favorite Fast Bites of the Year: Shouk Service Program of the Year: St. Anselm Beer Program of the Year: Roofers Union

Cocktail Program of the Year: Royal

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: Poca Madre

Wine Program of the Year: Field & Main

Pastry Chef of the Year: Paola Velez, Kith/Kin [now Maydan and Compass Rose]

Casual Restaurant of the Year: CHIKO - Capitol Hill Employee of the Year: Yasmin Orozco, Taco Bamba Taqueria – Springfield Manager of the Year: Jamal Flowers, Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Co. – Alexandria Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: Atlas Brew Works Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Three Blacksmiths New Restaurant of the Year: Cane

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Angel Barreto, Anju Restaurateur of the Year: Yama Jewayni, Katsuya Fukushima, Daisuke Utagawa, Daikaya Group Chef of the Year: David Deshaies, Unconventional Dine Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: Coastal Sunbelt Produce Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement: Randy Norton of Great American Restaurants District Restaurant News 39


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