In his second press briefing of the day on Friday, March 20, Mayor John Cranley introduced four members of the Cincinnati restaurant industry — Jean-François Flechet of Taste of Belgium, Bob Deck of 4EG, Cristian Pietoso of Via Vite/Forno Osteria and Britney Ruby Miller of Jeff Ruby's — to discuss the current state of the city's restaurant economy.
All mentioned they have had to lay off a majority of their employees and are working with a skeleton crew on a tight budget.
"Three days ago we laid off 600 — we call them 'family members,'" said Ruby Miller. "The restaurant industry is part of one big, tight-knit family. That was, what my 72-year-old father said, was the saddest day of his career."
She noted Jeff was not at the conference because she wanted him at home right now.
She then went on to lobby for a $225 billion bailout, to be delivered within 15 days, and for the federal government to back the business interruption insurance. That billion number comes from the National Restaurant Association.
In their call to tell congress to act now, the National Restaurant Association says, "The coronavirus epidemic is the greatest crisis our industry has ever faced. Economic forecasts indicate that restaurants and the foodservice industry could sustain $225 billion in losses and eliminate 5-7 million jobs over the next three months."
Ruby Miller gave some additional specifics, saying the restaurant industry does $834 billion in revenue per year and employs 10 percent of U.S. workforce (20 percent with ancillary employees).
"We have grit. This city has grit. We will overcome this but we have some big asks and we're advocating right now," she said. "We're keeping our company's afloat right now but we're advocating because we believe if we get some relief for our entire restaurant industry, we're going to come through this."
"Its what we need," she continued.
Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment summarized her request in a Facebook post.
She also said that while carry-out and delivery options are helpful for shuttered restaurants, they don't make up for the lost revenue.
"The reality is about carry-out is that people are afraid right now to go out and business is not great, and so we restaurateurs are taking a chance on this, we're investing in a time where cash flow is key, which is why we need the relief," Ruby Miller said.
Taste of Belgium's Flechet echoed her sentiment, saying he had to decrease his staff size from 263 to 20 people.
"In 14 years we have never asked for help; this time we need help," he said, noting that without a bailout, every single restaurant will be gone.