ST. LOUIS – A stunning reality check from one of the most well-known restaurant owners in St. Louis. Gerard Craft owner of six restaurants in St. Louis and one in Nashville says he expects more than half of the restaurants in St. Louis will not survive the pandemic crisis.
Craft says there hasn’t been enough government support to help restaurants financially. He doesn’t think he will be able to reopen all of his restaurants in town, saying only time will tell.
Right now, he’s hopeful restaurants can reopen to diners in mid-June. He says everyone’s operating margins are about to go down because everyone is going to have to serve fewer people in the same amount of space. Diners will likely have to have their temperature taken when they enter the restaurant and will be asked about their recent travel.
Craft is exploring the possibility of a person in an office taking the diner’s order by text rather than have a server come to the table. The food would be brought out by someone wearing gloves and a mask.
Craft believes diners will choose restaurants based on their safety practices rather than ambiance. He plans to hire a safety manager for each shift to make sure employees and customers are abiding by the socials distancing and safe practices.
Craft says the new normal is something he and other restaurant owners can expect to be part of the daily routine for the next year and a half if not longer.