Photography by Megan Terry
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VIP Alexandria Magazine or any of its other advertising partners and/or affiliates.
There’s a common misconception that busy restaurants simply print money, which may be why they have been targeted for years by vendors, insurance companies, and government to be erroneously charged with a high cost of doing business that far supersedes almost any other industry. Additionally, many customers expect a product to be sold at prices that may not differentiate between the quality difference of a high-end restaurant verses fast food.
What’s all this mean? It means that it’s no surprise many restaurants are still closed, in some cases forever. It comes down to simple economics and if the revenue isn’t there to support already incredibly thin profit margins, there’s no way to support all the overhead, licensing, insurance, rent and taxes. On a good day, 60% is where many otherwise normally successful restaurants currently are in terms of gross revenue. However, for those of us who are survivors and most restaurant people are exactly that, at least it’s a step back to normal.
Alexandria has had a lot of success because restaurant owners and managers pulled together to achieve a common goal, which was to get customers to trust our ability to do what we do best, even under uncommon circumstances. Thanks to that resilience and also city leadership, Alexandria restaurants were able to carve out outdoor real estate graciously offered by the city and it’s wonderful and loyal citizens.
'Alexandria has had a lot of success because restaurant owners and managers pulled together to achieve a common goal.'
Alexandria is approaching a milestone in its effort to deal with this crisis as businesses are rebuilding the confidence of their client base one person at a time. Just across the river in DC, many are still closed. DC’s Mayor reopened restaurants but not commercial office buildings. More importantly, school is out everywhere and will remain that way for some time. Without available childcare or school, many are forced to continue working from home. Congress is still taking their break and with little tourism to fill the void of DC turning into a ghost town, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel until at least mid-September. Because the workforce has not yet returned, downtown restaurants cannot bear the cost of opening while the majority of their client base aren’t able to attend happy hours, business lunches or dinners. Other downtown restaurants rely on professional sports, live entertainment and theatre which are still completely shut down.
COVID has led very skilled and capable restaurant operators to close their doors indefinitely, for some because it was cheaper to start over and for others, it was simply a way to get out of an undesirable situation. Many of us are still in the fight and will rebuild our businesses one day at a time. The continued and increased support and cooperation from local, state and federal government is critical. Most importantly, we need our customers back, safely, and we know how to do that.
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