Will California’s restaurants survive an extended lockdown?
Slapfish Restaurant Group CEO Andrew Gruel weighs in on Gov. Newsom’s call to lengthen California’s stay-at-home orders and its impact on small business.
Local restaurants epitomize the freedom to both fail and succeed more than any other business. Anyone who grew up in a family-run small business like I did understands that much is expected and required from the time you’re old enough to push a broom.
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As a child, I did my homework at the bar of my parents’ restaurant. I watched my mom and dad work long hours to provide a better future and earned baseball card money by folding napkins, washing dishes, and setting tables.
Today, small restaurants are suffering because liberals have not let the COVID crisis go to waste.
State and local governments have wielded the coronavirus pandemic as license to steal freedom and opportunity in pursuit of unprecedented omnipotence. Unreasonable, unnecessary and hypocritical actions have forced over 100,000 restaurants to close and endanger countless others.
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The hypocrisy is highlighted by liberals like Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison who is suing struggling small businesses for remaining open yet sympathized with those who rioted and looted small businesses this summer.
It’s further illustrated by other prominent Democrats who continue to dine and travel, despite barring constituents from the same.
Their draconian bans on indoor dining and setting last call for 9:30 p.m. have nothing to do with science and everything to do with power. The new arbitrary administrative abuses in Washington, D.C., recently forced me, in my role as executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, to move an annual meeting to Arizona.
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I find it ironic that Washington, D.C.’s, current indoor dining ban magically stops on January 15, just days before the presidential inauguration. Current regulations in Washington requiring restaurant-goers to dine in street-side shacks equipped with space heaters instead of in a well-ventilated, sanitized dining room are absurd.
Often these regulations aren’t targeting slowing the spread, but rather seem to be aimed at slowing the economy. In New York, in-home gatherings account for 74% of the coronavirus spread, while indoor dining makes up just 1.4%, according to the state’s statistics.
These “scientific” acts force small businesses to play regulatory roulette – comply with absurd authoritarian assertions that leave them treading water or drowning forever.
Restaurants like Piper’s at Creekside, which my parents once operated in Virginia, persist on the thinnest of margins. Ultimately, for our family, when cancer took my mom’s life at age 46 it caused the dominoes to fall for my family's business.
I know that cancer and COVID do not pick winners and losers. However, reckless regulatory environments do.
As Executive Director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, we have proved there are ways to socialize safely and at a distance. Our events team poured hundreds of hours into balancing safety, sanitation and socialization, in order for us to freely assemble as a group once again.
Since August, we have conducted five in-person events at five different hotels in three states with zero positive cases. Two of these events hosted more than 200 people in two different states.
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At Sea Island and in Orlando we were the first large group to host overnight events at well-known convention properties in those locations since March.
The chorus of thank yous from bellmen to baristas to bartenders was constant and heartfelt. The staff was not only grateful for our patronage but also for creating a blueprint for future gatherings: we instituted well-spaced floor-plans, mandatory daily health screenings, temperature checks and 24/7 on-site medical staff.
Our investment in safety allowed many workers to return from furlough and provide for their families. While some groups continue to cancel similar gatherings, we took the imperative to lead by example.
Hopefully, others in similar positions will make a New Year’s resolution to do the same.
Local hotels and restaurants are the heart and soul of our communities. They help us celebrate moments big and small. Complying with arbitrary edicts and answering frivolous lawsuits will not create a single memory or keep one single person employed.
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In this time of need, we must find solutions so employers can stay afloat. Liability protection legislation like measures passed in Georgia and Utah coupled with regulatory predictability accomplished by blue state politicians ceasing and desisting with authoritarian power grabs will enable hundreds of thousands to survive.
No one questions the severity of COVID-19. However, we must all question the motives of liberal politicians usurping freedom at the expense of hotels, restaurants, and businesses, ultimately transforming our cities' downtowns, midtowns and uptowns into ghost towns.
Adam Piper is Executive Director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).
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