One-third of Michigan restaurants won’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic, industry association says


Heirloom Hospitality Group, which owns the Townhouse restaurants in Detroit and Birmingham, signed onto a lawsuit against MDHHS over its new COVID-19 orders. - EVAN GONZALEZ, DETROIT STOCK CITY
  • Evan Gonzalez, Detroit Stock City
  • Heirloom Hospitality Group, which owns the Townhouse restaurants in Detroit and Birmingham, signed onto a lawsuit against MDHHS over its new COVID-19 orders.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) has released a grim new report about the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to them, about 5,600 Michigan restaurant operators, or 33%, say it's unlikely that their business will still be open six months from now.

Additionally, the research found that two-thirds of Michigan hotels report they will be able to remain open for six more months at current occupancy and revenue levels, and more than half of Michigan’s independently-owned hotels are at risk for foreclosure.

“It is fundamentally clear that the pandemic is decimating the hospitality industry in this state to a degree never seen or even imagined," MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow said in a release. "While it will take several years and a stable economy to reclaim the size, impact and opportunities produced by this industry, we have not yet reached the bottom."

Restaurants have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In Michigan, indoor dining has again been suspended to stem a surge of the novel virus. The MRLA attempted to sue the state over the epidemic orders, but a judge rejected the lawsuit earlier this month.

As new vaccines from Pfizer rolled out of the pharmaceutical giant's Kalamazoo facility on Monday, headed across the state and nation, hope is on the horizon. However, public health experts say that it will be spring 2021 before 100 million people are vaccinated, or about one third of the nation’s population.

Spread of coronavirus has been linked to indoor dining, causing irreparable financial harm to the industry.

National restaurant associations have openly appealed to Congress to pass relief specific to their industry.

“As the legislative calendar draws to a close, there are several thousand operators and a few hundred thousand employees in Michigan urgently hoping that the holiday spirit consumes our elected leaders in Washington D.C. and Lansing to pass a meaningful stimulus package for those most in need this holiday season,” Winslow said.

According to the MRLA, Michigan restaurants have been closed for more than 120 days, and the industry has lost $8 billion in sales.

“The restaurant industry is comprised of creative and resilient individuals,” Winslow said, “but for a growing number of them, this latest pause is the cause of their lost livelihood and well-being.”

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