Restaurants fear second COVID-19 lockdown

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Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Rifa Tasfia, Social Media Editor

Owning a restaurant has always been an unpredictable business, and because of the pandemic, many restaurants across the United States have closed forever.

With a feared second lockdown, many restaurants are struggling to find creative ways to attract customers. Buffalo Eats, an information-based website, has written reviews on hundreds of restaurants and has guided customers to find the best food and drinks in and around Buffalo.

The website stated that since last year, 59 restaurants had permanently closed in Buffalo. With such failure in the food industries, restaurant owners have become restless as they are desperately seeking ways to promote their businesses.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed over 5,000 restaurants and reported that from March 1-22 sales of restaurants declined 47% nationwide.

While industries like liquor stores and Amazon saw business thriving, businesses close to campus like Starbucks or  Chinese restaurant, Hong Kong Kitchen have not been so lucky.

The National Restaurant Association stated that restaurant industries had lost more than 3 million employees and $25 billion in sales. It said that 3% of restaurant owners have permanently closed their restaurants, 44% have closed momentarily, and 11% of owners are waiting to shut down their restaurants within the next 30 days forever.

The Starbucks located at 933 Elmwood Ave, has been taking additional precautions to maintain and take part in following the social distancing rules. The manager of Starbucks, Becca Wagner, said that with this upcoming winter, the arrangements for handling the café would be the same as it was in the summer. She said that everything has become a lot stricter than it was before.

“So, like the last lockdown, there’s a lot less hands-on stuff,” Wagner said. “There’s a lot less touching and more repeated washing of utensils. With the number of customers, we have coming, we have to make sure everything is sanitized frequently.”

She said because of the frequent washing of instruments and utensils, sales were affected as the customers would have to wait in line to order for more extended periods of time.

“We had to throw out a whole basket of sugar packets because a customer decided to contaminate it by touching it,” Wagner said. “Even though the poster on the wall clearly stated not to touch it. ”

Wagner said that the business had to close down for six weeks when the pandemic started. She said many of the Starbuck’s customers were slow to come.

“We now have 100 fewer customers compared to before the pandemic,” Wagner said.

Hong Kong Kitchen, 1120 Elmwood Ave, is owned by Mimi Chang and her husband, who are the restaurants only employees. Chang said her restaurant was closed from January until May.

She was disappointed hearing about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal of a lockdown for the second wave of COVID-19.  To follow the social distancing rules, she does not let anybody into her restaurant. Patrons need to call in their order and pick it up at the door.

“Because Buffalo State students do not come here anymore, we are having problems paying the rent,” Chang said. “The rent here is high, and we barely have any customers.”

She added that her business was not doing well in part because President Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as the Chinese virus.

According to Chang her business was making only $100 every day and stated that she might have to close the business permanently if she’s unable to pay her rent.