(WFSB) - Connecticut's restaurant industry claims it is in danger of being wiped out by the Delta COVID variant, citing results from a recent national restaurant survey.
The National Restaurant Association survey found that nationally, a majority of consumers changed their dining behavior, which has started to put acute pressure back on the restaurant industry.
Adding to the pressure has been increased food and supply prices, capacity limits in several states, and debt loads.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association, and 50 other state restaurant association partners sent a letter to Congress in which they shared the survey's findings.
In the letter, they also urged a swift replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
“There are thousands of Connecticut small business owners stuck in limbo waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide the stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future,” said Scott Dolch, CT Restaurant Association executive director. “The rise of coronavirus variants like Delta threaten to push these restaurants closer to permanently closing their doors. It’s time for Congress to step in and fulfill the promise of the RRF.”
The group said Connecticut has more than 2,066 pending applications and more than $489 million in stabilization funding that would be addressed by a $60 billion replenishment proposal.
Owner of Salute in Hartford James Cosgrave said business has been booming, saying the restaurant has seen a return to near pre-pandemic levels.
“Starting in May, our numbers jumped dramatically. We started climbing up and up and up,” Cosgrove said.
However, he noticed business has been a bit slower during the past month.
“We’ve already seen people who will only eat outside again, and that started up in the last month or so,” he explained.
Max Downtown reopened last September after a hiatus due to the pandemic.
Managing partner Steven Abrams says business has been increasing since, especially when vaccines rolled out.
"It was like a light switch. When people felt much, much comfortable coming out. People hit the vaccination was working," Abrams noted.
Abrams says right now, they're experiencing a minor lull.
"Things were going really well right up until a month ago when the Delta variant impacted us, threw us for a loop," added Abrams.
“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”
The survey found that:
- 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the Delta variant.
- 19 percent of adults have stopped going out to restaurants.
- 9 percent have cancelled existing plans to go out to a restaurant in recent weeks.
- 37 percent have ordered takeout or delivery instead of going out to a restaurant.
- 19 percent have chosen to sit outside instead of inside when going out to a restaurant.
Take a look at the full results of the survey here or below: