As the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon continues to impact the local restaurant market, stories are popping up across the city, from food cart owners giving away free meals to chefs starting Instagram cooking classes. In this new version of AM Intel, we dive into different ways the state’s food service industry has been responding to the global pandemic. For more COVID-19 stories, check out our larger story stream.
Lights Out at 10
Last week, Gov. Kate Brown announced phase one reopening plans for Oregon, detailing how counties could be eligible to reopen and what that initial reopening would look like. Part of that announcement included specific guidelines for restaurants to follow in phase-one reopening, including spacing requirements for tables, face covering specifics, and a curfew at 10 p.m. In the press conference, epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger explained that the curfew would be in place to prevent possible violations of social distancing related to inebriated customers. “We know if those bars are open late into the night, often times, people lose track of how much they’ve been drinking,” he said. “They may not keep their physical distance as much.”
But many restaurant owners are unhappy with the curfew. Le Pigeon and Canard co-owner Andy Fortgang noted that servers would likely have to ask customers to leave if they sit down at 8:30 p.m. or later, especially at special occasion restaurants where meals last 90 minutes or longer. Chefstable CEO Kurt Huffman shared a similar sentiment with Willamette Week: “It’s not fair... to have my staff engage people and tell them that, after they’ve spent $150 on a meal, that they just need to wrap it up and take it to go,” he says. “That’s not acceptable.”
In Other News...
• National Frozen Foods, an Albany-based food processor, has received a $2,000 fine for unsafe safety practices related to coronavirus prevention. The citation comes after almost three dozen employees contracted the virus. [The Oregonian]
• A surprising reopening strategy: Nossa Familia decided to conduct a survey of its customers to determine when and how the company should reopen cafes. The company asked customers questions like “When Nossa Familia reopens its café(s), what physical modifications to our café would you like to see to make you feel safe?” and “In the past 2 weeks, have you visited a coffee shop?” After receiving 755 responses, the company decided to reopen its Pearl District cafe today, complete with some of the suggested changes in the survey — including outdoor/curbside pickup and masked employees. [EaterWire]
• Oregon businesses have received more than $7 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The average loan size has dropped statewide between the first and second round of PPP loans; the average loan was $203,000 in the first round and $90,000 in the second. [PBJ]
• More AM Intel [EPDX]