After owning a business for nearly three decades, let's just say you learn a thing or two, one of them being best practices when building your team. At our restaurants, we see our team as family members and treat them as such. Our hiring practices reflect that mentality, and we seek out and hire candidates who share our attitudes, values, standards and goals - finding candidates who “fit” the culture is of paramount importance.
The restaurant industry added 186,000 jobs in May, according to federal data released on Friday, continuing a strong run of hiring as more restaurants open up for dine-in service and consumers eat out more often.
That was one out of every three jobs the economy added in May, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. The economy added 559,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined to 5.8%.
Restaurants now employ 10.8 million workers, recovering 4.5 million workers from the depths of the pandemic. But in an indication of just how much the industry struggled during that period it remains 1.5 million workers short of its pre-pandemic highs.
The restaurant industry has been struggling to fill jobs in recent months even as state restrictions ease and coronavirus cases decline. Operators have raised wages, upgraded benefits and used incentives like sign-on bonuses or even interview bonuses to get people in the door. Chains like Jimmy John’s and Taco Bell have held massive hiring events, often hiring people on the spot.
Some McDonald’s locations are giving away iPhones to workers who take jobs and stick around. Operators say the challenge is largely about getting people to apply for jobs—not keep them.
“The challenge is more about applicant flow than it is turnover,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said at an investor conference this week, according to a transcript on the financial services site Sentieo. “It’s not that you’re seeing a big step up in turnover versus what was out there at pre-pandemic levels. It’s the applicant flow that is down pretty significantly from what we saw pre-pandemic.”
The labor force participation rate was 61.6% in May, 1.7 percentage points lower than it was in February of last year, suggesting a number of people have left the workforce and are not yet returning. There are 6.6 million people not in the labor force but who want a job—those folks are not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work or were unavailable to take a job.
In key webinar takeaways, experts walk you through how to get lenders to approve your PPP loan forgiveness applications.
Lenders, not the SBA, are responsible for approving applications for PPP loan forgiveness, so it’s important that you and your lender work together to ensure application forms and documentation are accurate and complete. The Payroll Protection Program, part of the CARES Act legislated last year to help businesses get through the COVID-19 pandemic, pumped $81 billion into the restaurant and hospitality industry in loans during 2020 and 2021. Making those first- and second-round PPP loans forgivable was essential in making sure that restaurants aren’t burdened by more long-term debt.
Bill Briggs, an independent consultant and former Small Business Administration official, and Aaron Frazier, the Association’s Director of Health Care and Tax Policy, moderated a webinar on May 25 that helps explain how you can qualify and apply for PPP loan forgiveness.
The program, Briggs explains, was designed to help businesses stay open during the pandemic and keep people employed. And Congress legislated more changes in subsequent bills to make more expenses forgivable and the loan forgiveness process more streamlined. The process, he says, really starts with you and your lender.
Lenders, not the SBA, are responsible for approving applications for PPP loan forgiveness, so it’s important that you and your lender work together to ensure application forms and documentation are accurate and complete. Here’s how it works:
Loan Forgiveness Requirements
Both 1st- and 2nd-round PPP loans qualify for full loan forgiveness during the 8- to 24-week covered period if:
Two separate safe harbor rules exempt certain borrowers from having their loan forgiveness amount reduced based on a reduction in FTE employee levels.
You can apply for loan forgiveness once you’ve used all the proceeds you received, and you have until the maturity date of the loan to apply. If you don’t apply within 10 months after your covered period ends, however, your loan repayment will no longer be deferred and you’ll have to start making loan payments to your lender.
To apply, here’s what you need:
And give the process time. Briggs says lenders have 60 days from the time you submit your application for forgiveness to reach a decision on how much of your PPP loan can be forgiven. The SBA has an additional 90 days to process and review the lender’s decision and repay the lender.
You might have questions along the way, as did some of the webinar attendees. Examples include:
The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has partnered with the LRA to encourage Louisianans to protect themselves and their neighbors from COVID-19.
Bar and restaurant may participate by registering on ATC Online System. Under customer portal, customer may click “apply for a new license” and select under license type “Shot for a Shot” Vaccination Program Registration.”
There is no cost to participate and participants must submit a tally of non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks directly to the ATC to be eligible for reimbursement. In turn, ATC will provide the information to LRA who will reimburse participating bars and restaurants $1 for every non-alcoholic drinks and $2 for every alcoholic beverage but limited to no more than $100 per participating business, subject to the terms of the program. Reimbursement will only be available through June 30th or until funds are exhausted.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Greater New Orleans Chapter, in partnership with New Orleans & Company, is excited to announce its 11th Annual Restaurant Week New Orleans will be held June 21-27, 2021. A special thanks to our 2021 Restaurant Week New Orleans presenting sponsors—TABASCO®, Louisiana Seafood and the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
During this weeklong celebration of New Orleans cuisine, participating restaurants in the New Orleans metro area will offer special pre-fixe menus including a two-course lunch for $25 or less and a three-course dinner or brunch for $45 or less. Many establishments are continuing to embrace the takeout trend brought on by the pandemic and offering a to-go option.
Restaurant Week is a welcomed event for many business owners. While the industry may not be 100 percent back to normal, restaurants want diners to know they are open for business and thankful for the community’s support. The timing of this year’s event is fortuitous given that the city has eased many restrictions and lifted its city-wide mask mandate for those who are vaccinated.
“People are returning to our beloved restaurants with confidence in the industry,” explained LRA President and CEO Stan Harris. “Some people haven’t visited our restaurants in over a year, and now, as more people are getting vaccinated, they’ll hopefully feel a little more comfortable dining out in one of our world famous establishments.”
There’s a diverse lineup of participating restaurants ranging from fine-dining establishments to neighborhood favorites. Discover new places or try something new at a trusty staple from nearly 70 restaurants registered to participate to date.
This year’s sponsors include TABASCO®, Louisiana Seafood and the Louisiana Office of Tourism Community Coffee and Louisiana Lottery.
To browse participating restaurants’ menus, visit www.restaurantweekneworleans.com. Reservations are strongly encouraged, and diners can do so through the website or restaurant directly. Don’t forget to share your Restaurant Week New Orleans experiences on social media using the hashtag, #RestaurantWeekNOLA. The fee to participate is waived for LRA-member restaurants. Please contact Nicol Jameson, email@example.com or (504) 636-6527 for additional information.
List of participating restaurants below:
First and foremost, let me say how excited I am to be a part of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. I look forward to connecting with the association on a statewide level, and I am hopeful we can continue to grow our Northwest Chapter by creating a vibrant and thriving restaurant scene. Shreveport is such an interesting community, and there are so many fantastic local farms and producers in the surrounding area - many who don’t know even exist. Over the last two years, I’ve had the best chicken, beef, and pork ever, and it has all been raised locally in or around the Shreveport area. I am excited for Shreveport and hopeful people will continue to recognize how great Northwest Louisiana foodways actually are.
It also seems the pandemic has brought out a lot of creativity in Shreveport’s food scene. People are trying new concepts and pushing innovation in both food and beverage. It is exciting to see both local chefs and diners willing to try new flavors and experiences. We, as a city, have learned to embrace creative problem-solving. Now is the time to test new concepts and push the industry forward. I also believe that we are a stronger and more vibrant community when we work to solve problems together and collaborate on big projects (or even small ‘guest chef’ or ‘guest bartender’ nights).
Though we’ve been through the wringer over the past 14 months, struggling to navigate restrictions while keeping customers and employees safe, there were some positives that came out of enduring the restrictions of a pandemic. For us, it was a time to test new recipes and ideas. We actually came up with our second dining concept during some of these recipe testing sessions. Because our original concept was delayed due to the pandemic, we are now opening our second concept prior to the first. The pandemic also gave us time to develop better operating procedures and company structure. A large portion of our business during this time was private, in-home dining experiences, allowing us to connect with customers in a way we didn’t anticipate.
With summer around the corner and mandates being lifted, we are more than ready to see tourism back at 100 percent so we can finally fill up our restaurants and bars and start bringing back the local economy, better than it was before! Stay strong Northwest Chapter, I believe we are almost to the end.
Revenir Restaurant, Every Man A King Distillery