Wednesday, May 20, 2020

What's Next?

I was very grateful to have been asked to participate in a Facebook Live discussion on “Check Please! South Florida” earlier this week with host Michelle Bernstein, Palm Beach chef Lindsay Autry, and Fort Lauderdale food writer Mike Mayo, to talk about the future of the South Florida restaurant industry in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to all who joined us live; if you missed it and want to watch, I've embedded it above and you can find it here: “Check Please! Conversation with Michelle Bernstein."[1]

I wrote down a lot of notes in preparation for the talk, and thought it would be worth sharing and expanding on some of those here. Many of these thoughts will not be anything new if you've been following the effect of this crisis on the restaurant world and food supply chains. But as we reach an inflection point – this week Miami-Dade County began the process of lifting “shelter in place” orders and authorized restaurants to reopen with limited capacity – it seemed a good time to think about where we’ve been and what’s to come.


Let me start by saying how much I admire the resilience, the resourcefulness, the perseverance, and the care for their employees, their customers, and the community at large displayed by so many chefs and restaurant operators. When this crisis and shutdown hit, the immediate reaction from so many of the folks I know was to help: to try to take care of the employees they had to lay off as best they could, and then to provide meals and groceries for first responders, laid off workers, and anyone in the community who might be struggling to find a meal.

I do business bankruptcies for a living, and in my career have never seen a greater challenge – not just because of the shutdown, but because of the uncertainty of what comes next. To be looking to help others, while the businesses they’ve spent years of hard work and money building are facing a genuinely existential threat, is a truly remarkable response, but one that seems to come naturally to so many who have chosen this path.

(continued ...)