CHARLOTTE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The food industry is coming back, but slowly. A new report sheds light on what restaurateurs face in 2022.
The National Restaurant Association says about half of restaurateurs say it will be a year before business returns to normal.
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“Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen kind of a growth trend and things have gone down,” said Briana Cohen, COO at Aria and Cicchetti in Uptown Charlotte.
While Uptown has become a ghost town, Cicchetti, which opened just months before COVID, has closed. A watched pot never boils, however. Its owners have decided to rework their approach.
“Most restaurants have pivoted their business model in one way or another,” Cohen said. “For us, we added an entry in Aria that wasn’t there before the pandemic, but we took this opportunity to make it easier for us to manage our space with our work.”
Labour, food prices and shortages will continue to be a problem.
“Before the pandemic, we brought a lot of stuff from Italy,” Cohen said, “and importers and so you really have to change and see what we can get in the farmers’ market, what we can get locally. “
Things are looking up though. It is estimated that the restaurant industry workforce will increase by 400,000 jobs this year.
“I’m optimistic about the industry and I’m optimistic it’s going to get back to where it was and even better,” said Queens Feast organizer Bruce Hensley. He says they’re starting to see more turnout for the week-long foodie event.
“We just finished Charlotte Restaurant Week and we had 30 more restaurants than July,” he said, “and the restaurants are figuring it out!”
Those in the restaurant industry know they are a resilient group and they are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
To read the full State of the Industry report from the National Restaurant Association, click here.