Mondays are typically days off for folks who work in the restaurant industry, but this Monday, owners, employees, servers and chefs say they don’t have time to waste as they rallied at the governor’s residence.
They said they’re fighting to keep their industry alive.
From Thomaston to New Haven, Litchfield to Avon to Danbury, industry employees, those currently out of a job or down a lot of shifts are asking for the governor to order up more funding.
“Basically we come into work every single day and try not to make it our last,” said Albert Greenwood, the owner of Oak Haven Table & Bar in New Haven.
He said owners like himself are in survival mode right now.
“It’s a complete and utter nightmare at this point. We have laid off 95% of our staff," Greenwood said.
“I had to cut my staff in half. I should have cut my staff further,” said Stevie Sacco, general manager of Market Hospitality Group. But she said it was hard to because they’re all like family. So, she hopes help is served up soon.
“Eventually you have to ask, why are you letting 300,000 people in the restaurant industry just drowned?" said Sacco.
Monday's rain emphasized the state of the Connecticut restaurant industry, especially as the weather gets colder and the months of slow business stack up.
Owners and employees rallied in the wet weather outside the governor’s mansion.
“There are so little sales, at this point, we’re staying open for our employees,” said Greenwood.
Also not helping their industry, sinking consumer confidence.
“For some reason, we have been connected to COVID and we cannot figure out why. I mean, the restaurant industry has been practicing safety measures since we opened, since restaurants started. We’re the ones who go to courses and classes and food safety,” said Sacco.
Some of those rallying for restaurants placed napkins on the capitol lawn signifying more than 600 restaurants have already shut their doors, some permanently and others with no date to reopen.
While Monday’s rally wasn’t sponsored by the state’s restaurant association, their scream for help remains the same as those demonstrating: we can’t rely on federal help, they say the state needs to step up.
“If a stimulus package does not come out of DC, I would be shocked if my number's now over 1,000 closed without a date for reopening at least within the next two weeks,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association Scott Dolch.
“There’s 8,300 restaurants in Connecticut. 600 have already gone out. How many more are they willing to sacrifice before something is done?” asked Greenwood.
The napkins caught the attention of Governor Ned Lamont who went and talked to the group at the capitol.
A member of his office said he listened to their concerns and suggestions and stressed Lamont has continued to urge residents to support local restaurants.
And, he added Lamont continues to explore additional support to provide restaurants and small businesses.
“They are open and operating and that’s a big step. In terms of additional relief, believe me, I’m looking at it,” said Lamont during his news conference Monday.
“I’ve said to the governor, I don’t expect you to save our industry, but you can do a lot to get us through this tough winter that we’re faced with,” said Dolch.
Those rallying Monday said something needs to be delivered up soon.
“They’re working paycheck to paycheck, they don’t know when their next paycheck is going to come, what their kids are going to have for Christmas. It’s hard,” said Red Lanphear, owner of The Corner in Litchfield and The Black Rock Tavern in Thomaston.