The outlook continues to look bleak for the American food service industry. Restaurants across the country have endured mandated closings (supposedly temporary, but often dragging on many months) followed by restrictions on seating capacity when they did reopen. To make matters worse, there are a number of states where recently opened bars and dining rooms are closing again.
Then there’s the matter of consumer confidence. Studies have shown that most Americans still aren’t comfortable returning to restaurants and are especially leery of those that offer only indoor seating (which, in some states, will likely be a majority when the weather turns colder). And some diners dislike the mask-wearing requirements and would probably rather stay home than go out with their faces covered. (These are 21 restaurant and supermarket chains that require their customers to wear masks.)
As if all that weren’t bad enough, other factors have also had a devastating impact on the restaurant business. Hurricanes in the Southeast and widespread nonstop wildfires up and down the West Coast have driven potential customers out of their communities and sometimes physically destroyed eating places. Civil unrest in cities across the nation has kept would-be diners out of some urban centers.
For different reasons, almost no restaurant in America is currently able to function at 75% seating capacity. But that’s the percentage needed for most establishments to be profitable, according to an infographic devoted to the subject of restaurant recovery published by the restaurant technology and consulting company OneDine.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) just reported that nearly one in six, or roughly 100,000 restaurants around America have already closed permanently or for the foreseeable future. Things are particularly bad in Massachusetts, according to the Boston Herald, where the figure is closer to one in five.
For many restaurateurs, there’s no relief in sight. A nationwide survey of 418 restaurant operators conducted by Coca-Cola this summer found that only 45% were confident that they’d still be in business in a year’s time. The NRA projects that the industry will suffer losses of $240 billion in sales by the end of 2020.
No segment of the business seems immune. Famous chains like Chuck E. Cheese and California Pizza Kitchen are in bankruptcy, as is the massive Luby’s operation chain in Texas. But marquee names like Wolfgang Puck, José Andrés, and Thomas Keller have been forced to shut down bustling restaurants of their own as well.
Since early May, 24/7 Tempo has tracked permanent restaurant closings around the country, updating our reporting twice a month. This latest version of the list covers a wide range of popular places in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In this age of uncertainty — for restaurants as for just about everything else — one thing is certain: More restaurants will join this regrettable roster daily.