The restaurant and hospitality industries have been some those most affected by the pandemic. Several businesses have struggled to stay afloat and unfortunately some were forced to close for good. Those that did reopen have been running on 50% capacity, thus the  "social zones" and the expansion of outdoor seating for restaurants has worked well (as best as well could be) over this summer. But, what about with the cold months approaching? Unfortunately, the forecast predicts a rough winter.

A new report by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) found that nearly 4,000 restaurants are at risk of permanently closing over the next six months. Not only have restaurants lost money since the beginning of the pandemic, but 62% of them have seen increased operational costs with having to purchase PPE and necessary sanitation equipment.

Restaurants aren't the only ones at risk. 800 hotels are also facing permanent closure. The survey also found that hotel occupancy is down over 23% compared to last year and unemployment rate remains at 38% since February.

Detroit and Grand Rapids have experienced more dramatic drops in hotel profitability than the state as a whole as the near total lack of business travel and convention business have decimated those larger properties

In response, the MRLA has launched a campaign called “Don’t Leave Michigan’s Hospitality Industry Out in the Cold” which offers suggestions and educates elected officials on the economic impact the industry has on the state.

The MRLA's proposals include:

  • Allow meeting and banquet centers the same access to market as a restaurant -- operating at 50% capacity while following social distancing and sanitization rules
  • Allow restaurants to safely winterize their outdoor spaces while extending their temporary alcohol service permits as well
  • Allow for expanded indoor capacity, both at restaurants and banquet centers if the data reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services falls below a 3% positive test rate over an extended period
  • Restore Pure Michigan funding to encourage the restoration of safe travel

For more about the MRLA's campaign or to share your story as a restaurant owner, click here.

As a friendly reminder, if you are in a position that is possible, please do your part to support our local restaurants and businesses. It would be a shame to see some of our favorite places gone and for people to lose their livelihoods.

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