Wind damage, never-ending rain, flooded streets and continuing power outages — Hurricane Sandy made our lives in Northeast Ohio pretty miserable. Being a food guy with a lot of respect for the industry, my heart has gone out to our beloved restaurants. Granted, they’re only a small part of much larger losses inflicted by the storm. But for those in the business, the damage started days before the rain started to fall. Many people spent last weekend getting ready for the storm instead of heading out to eat and drink. This translated into a slow weekend instead of packed houses enjoying Halloween parties.
Next up: the water and power. Areas that lost (and in some cases, continue to be without) power include Tremont, Ohio City, Lakewood, Detroit Shoreway, Coventry and Willoughby. That meant up to four full days of establishments being closed.
In any city, that’s bound to have ripple effects. The most immediate is the lost income for thousands of restaurant employees. The majority of them do not have vacation days, 401Ks, or sick days to fall back on. They literally lost a week of income. Keep in mind that the hospitality and medical industries are neck-and-neck with each other when it comes to jobs and revenue in Northeast Ohio.
Vendors are another issue. East Coast-based farmers and fish houses will be struggling for weeks, maybe even months, trying to fill orders to our restaurants. When they do finally get back up to speed, it’s likely that their losses will be reflected in increased consumer prices.
Another giant ripple impacted the owners. Insurance will cover some of their losses, but in the meantime, rent payments don’t stop, nor do any of their other bills. The solution: Make sure you and your families are safe and back on your feet. Then take your hunger, your thirst, and your wallet, and spend some money. Consider taking care of the servers a little more as well!