The scourge of coronavirus has of course proved to be a major obstacle for many industries but one area perhaps hardest hit worldwide is the restaurant industry and in the Los Angeles area this has certainly been illustrated to be the case.
As of last month reports suggest that as many as 20% of restaurants in the LA area are violating one form of COVID regulation or another and though this is of course a major concern it isn’t surprising that the dining sector is keenly trying to maintain some level of service, whatever the cost. This is an industry that is pretty much on its knees across the world.
L.A county’s suggested mid-October reopening is now very much under threat as the rate of cases has experienced a slight rise in recent weeks, which is of course a situation that is mirrored across the country and beyond.
In San Francisco there remains some cautious optimism as a number of outlets reopen some indoor dining facilities, albeit with coronavirus limits imposed, LA will be looking on keenly as major cities seek to garner relevant data and knowledge that may help them in the short and medium-term.
Given that the rate of transmission and infection of the virus is more acute in indoor settings it is those restaurants with major outdoor areas that are likely to get back to some semblance of normality soonest.
Indeed given that the COVID-19 age isn’t likely to leave us any time soon, some restaurants may well look to be more creative in the way they plan and layout their patrons, expect an uptick in sales of commercial outdoor furniture sales.
Those L.A restaurants with sufficient outdoor space could well look to take the current circumstances to better design their layout but will have to balance the guidelines in relation to spacing of customers with a keen eye for making the most of what area they have to play with.
Others have actually welcomed the reclaiming of road space from cars back to people, with some finding the resultant reduction in noise somewhat refreshing.
Some have gone all out and erected marquee tents placed in parking lots, others have elected to nudge their existing outdoor areas a little further on to the sidewalk and beyond. One would hope that pedestrians understand the need for such minor inconveniences as every additional seating space could be the very difference between success and closure.
It’s going to be a delicate balancing act in the coming months as restaurants seek to battle each other for the custom available, with a large swathe of those who would usually dine out more than likely electing to opt for a takeaway option or perhaps even shun the commercial culinary experience all together.
A number of restaurants are already falling by the wayside, most recently last month saw the steakhouse chain Sizzler declare bankruptcy with 107 locations set for closure, and without strong backing from governmental agencies the coming months, and even years, may well prove the toughest in the industry in living memory.
The industry may well look to the government to offer them some leeway but that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, LA County will look to reopen 25% of indoor dining capacity, which will severely impinge on a restaurant’s chances of covering their bottom line costs.
In order to maximise the use of outdoor areas a number of city planners are scrambling to reconfigure streets to facilitate a higher level of safe outdoor dining areas. Repurposing parking areas is one way to go, altering driving routes is another, though clearly the latter is fraught with issues for city planners on the whole.
The restaurant scene in L.A, as with any other major metropolitan area, is going to see the dining industry very much undergo a ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario. In this climate the bigger chains and high-end establishments are most likely to effectively last through the toughest months of this crisis and the fear therefore is that the more bespoke, small and medium-sized outlets have a truly monumental task just to keep their businesses open.
One thing is for sure. They are going to need the support of their clientele during these tough times.