Are Austin Restaurants Too Small To Fail?

No, they’ll fail – unless they get the support they need

You know how it is right now. We know how it is right now. And our friends at the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, reeling from the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, are letting us know how it is all around – in no uncertain terms.

“Thousands of friends, neighbors, and colleagues who work in the restaurant and bar industry need our help,” the AFWA honchos tell us. “As social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders disrupt the rhythms of daily life, small businesses have faced massive layoffs and a steep loss of income. Many workers and owners are left wondering how they will afford necessities like housing, utilities, food, and childcare.”

All these people in our community, devastated.
And you’re no dummy, so you know the crisis doesn’t stop there.

“The Texas Restaurant Association estimates a possible loss of 500,000 hospitality-related jobs during this pandemic. Many of the small, family-owned eateries – from favorite Tex-Mex joints to corner coffee shops – won't be able to weather the storm. Without swift relief, restaurant shutters will set off unprecedented damage to the economy, affecting suppliers, farmers and ranchers, nonprofits, and other professionals that rely on the hospitality business to survive.”

That’s what the hashtag #TooSmallToFail means: As the restaurants go, the little and the big, so goes pretty much everything else with them.

“Look to the helpers,” Mister Rogers said, remember? And that pulls a tear from your already-stressed eye; and you want to help; you want to do something worthy of that wonderful man.

So – how to help? What to do?

Five things, suggests the AFWA:

1. The Texas Restaurant Association has created a letter outlining aggressive measures elected leaders can take to help the Texas restaurant industry. After you enter your name, company, address, email, and phone number, the form will automatically send the letter to your civic, state, and national officials. (Note: If you don’t want to receive further updates via email or text, you must unselect the appropriate boxes on the form.)

2. We want to humanize this crisis so people can see the faces and hear the stories of those affected. If you're in the restaurant industry, please share your story via video or photo posts on your social media platforms. Tag local, state, and national leaders to let them know what struggles you are facing in the upcoming weeks and months. Click here for a list of social-media handles for government officials. Use that #TooSmallToFail hashtag to amplify the message and let them know we're all in this together.

3. If you’re not in the restaurant industry, please share posts from your family, friends, and favorite restaurants using the hashtag. Let’s make sure the message is heard loud and clear.

4. Many Austin restaurants have shifted their business model to offer delivery of contact-free curbside pick-up. If you you can, please consider ordering food or drinks from your favorite local businesses or buying gift cards to use later. Check online to determine which restaurants are offering to-go orders.

[Ed. note: Here’s a fine resource for that.]

5. The Southern Smoke Foundation has a fund that directly benefits the Austin culinary community. Select “Austin Relief Fund” to help provide swift support to individuals and businesses suffering a loss of income due to the pandemic. Members of the culinary community that need immediate help – including restaurant industry workers or owners, food truck operators, farmers and ranchers, brewery workers, suppliers, and equipment providers – can apply for support here. Funds are allocated within 48-72 hours.

OK, you got all that? (Thanks, AFWA!) And remember that Vic and Al’s Soup Kitchen from Nic Patrizi & friends is already going strong on Manor Road, trying to keep our laid-off industry workers fed. And Kick Butt Coffee on Airport is fighting that good fight, too. We’re all in this together, babies, let’s make sure we keep it together!

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