COVID-19 Crisis Hits Restaurant Industry Hard

Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association. (Photo: YouTube)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for virtually every industry.

The restaurant business, however, has been hit particularly hard.

"I think the restaurant industry you could easily say is ground zero," Sonia Riggs, the President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, tells Mike Rice of KOA NewsRadio. "We have heard restaurants losing upwards of 90 percent of their business and it's not uncommon to hear of restaurants that have lost 40 to 80 percent. I'm hearing at least that. It has really hit this industry hard."

Riggs estimates that approximately 150,000 of Colorado's 235,000 restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed.

Nonetheless, she says people are doing their best to make it through.

"This is an industry of hospitality and they tend to be very positive people that try to do the best they can with what they have," Riggs said. "I see people trying to be resilient. That being said, it is very tough for folks. They're exhausted. They're scared. They're very worried about their employees and, frankly, the future of their business."

Riggs spoke with KOA NewsRadio on Thursday, April 16, before Gov. Polis announced the shift from the stay-at-home order to the "Safer At Home" phase. The governor said it was his goal to begin a gradual reopening of bars and restaurants, with social distancing measures in place, by May 15 but did not a guarantee it would happen by that date.

Riggs said how many restaurants make it through this crisis is still unknown. Unfortunately, she knows not all will make it.

She estimates that 20 percent of Colorado restaurants would permanently close if establishments had to keep their doors closed through the month of May.

"I don't know what the industry is going to look like a year from now," Riggs said. "I feel certain there are going to be a lot fewer restaurants next year than there were two months ago. That's difficult to say and it's difficult to watch what's happening."

Other than encouraging people to continue ordering take-out and/or delivery from restaurants prior to the phased reopening, Riggs encouraged folks to buy additional provisions that many restaurants are offering during the crisis that they normally wouldn't sell, such as loaves of bread or eggs.

Click HERE for more information on the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Sonia's full conversation with Mike is below.

Sonia Riggs on KOA NewsRadio

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