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Our Biggest Hopes for the Restaurant Industry in 2022

2021 was supposed to be a time to rebuild, but the worsening pandemic and environmental catastrophes limited that. Here’s hoping 2022 will be an improvement.

An overhead photo of a variety of Southwestern Asian and Northern African dishes at Alley Mezza food cart
Dishes at the now-closed Alley Mezza
Alley Mezza / Official

“I hope Congress passes a hearty re-up on the restaurant revitalization fund so Portland restaurants and bars can *actually* recover; we’re about to see a tidal wave of closures in 2022 otherwise. Hopefully, with that sort of financial support, restaurant owners will be able to really support restaurant workers, because for us to keep the restaurant industry alive, we need to be paying restaurant workers a living wage (*before* tips, so people aren’t reliant on them), with paid time off and health insurance. Frankly, health insurance shouldn’t be the responsibility of any business; it should be the government’s responsibility. Hopefully we’re finally ready to have that conversation in a meaningful way.”
-Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

“Even though dining rooms have reopened, restaurants are still struggling. I hope they can bounce back in 2022. As takeout continues to be the norm, we desperately need more sustainable solutions, whether it’s through GoBox or in-house container deposit programs. The past couple years have revealed a whole slew of issues in the restaurant world. While BIPOC businesses have found more ways to support each other, the industry still needs a major overhaul.”
-Waz Wu, Eater Portland contributor

“Once again, I’m afraid this is a repeat of 2021 like we’ve been stuck in time for two years. I’m still hoping we’ll see more openings than closures in 2022, that food service workers will be treated with respect, and that creativity won’t be squashed in order to remain afloat financially.”
-Krista Garcia, Eater Portland contributor

“My biggest hope is that all of the supply shortages can level out by the spring, everyone gets their leases renewed on fair terms, and that they can expand their hours of operation past 6 p.m.”
-Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

“I hope we can get to more normalcy with COVID-19 so we can eat out without fear, and so restaurant owners and workers can plan for a more stable future. I also hope that restaurant workers, both front and back of house, are better compensated for their work, and that health care becomes more accessible.”
-Katherine Chew Hamilton, Portland Monthly food editor

“My biggest hope is that the backbone of the industry, from farmworkers to dishwashers and everyone in between, gets paid a livable wage. And going hand in hand with that, society at large shedding the myth that there’s a “worker shortage” and supporting the folks who keep us all fed.”
-Janey Wong, Portland Mercury food and drink columnist

“I hope that the various economic crises, including the supply chain crunch, finally come to an end and allow every worker to be paid a living wage or more as consumers get used to paying a bit more for good food that had been artificially underpriced for quite awhile.”
-Bill Oakley, fast food influencer

“My biggest hope is that the restaurant industry looks very different than it did in 2019. I want to see equity, diversity, and I want to see the city, state, and feds prioritize independent restaurants over chains. I want to see the public better understand the connections and intersection of food and culture, of identity and history.”
-Alex Frane, Eater Portland guest editor and contributor

“A lot of things about living in Portland have been, you know, “not cute” over the last couple of years. But this place continues to attract a broad swath of talented chefs from around the world. I hope the promise of cooking here continues to bring people in.”
-Jordan Michelman, Sprudge co-founder and beverage writer

“I would like the City of Vancouver to invest more resources into Vancouver’s Fourth Plain Corridor. This neighborhood has the highest concentration of good food in the area; however, it isn’t as pedestrian-friendly as the constantly hyped and generously funded Vancouver Waterfront development. Fourth Plain Forward, a non-profit with the mission of supporting the success of Fourth Plain residents by promoting the unique identity of the International District and working to improve the physical environment of the district has worked hard to support and promote residents and businesses in this district. Their mural project added beautiful artwork to the area. More investment in this diverse community would help the food businesses along this corridor prosper. Clark County restaurants should be sourcing their ingredients from small farms in Clark County. Local farms produce excellent produce, meat, cheese, and other agricultural products and only a few restaurants have connected with these farmers. The Clark County Food System Council and other groups have worked for years to make these connections and support local farming. Second Mile Marketplace was the result of this work. This food hub and commercial kitchen connects farmers and consumers. More innovative programs and a commitment from restaurants to buy locally would create higher quality restaurant food and support our local farmers.”
-Rachel Pinsky, Eater Portland contributor, Washington correspondent