Restaurant group says recovery from COVID closings could take several years

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Restaurants have been especially hard-hit financially during the pandemic and industry insiders say the struggle will likely continue for a while longer.

Texas had the second most restaurants of any state, and so far at least 10,000 have closed leaving nearly 150,000 employees sidelined.

Emily Williams Knight, the president of the Texas Restaurant Association, believes that trend is likely to continue.

Knight believes one of the keys to recovery is getting the vaccine into arms.

"I think we've finally figured out that putting in these mass vaccine centers like in Denton, where you can put 10,000 people through a day, is really the way we're going to turn the corner and get people vaccinated" said Knight.

She says financial relief from Congress, a return of workers to their offices, and business and leisure travel picking up are other factors to getting restaurants back up and going.

But Knight said she believes a full recovery will take anywhere from 3 to 5 years.

In January, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) leaned in to support the recovery of the $70B Texas restaurant industry.

Based on the impact to this sector, TWC voted unanimously to provide support and funding to assist in the rebuilding of the food service industry. Through the approval of innovative one-time projects, funded through a generous donation of $4.9 million from IKEA, TWC has made it possible to create online training videos for restaurant owners and their employees. The project will provide up to $500,000 for the purchase of ServSafe Food Handler and TABC To Go training and certification—credentials foodservice employees are required to maintain in Texas.

“The Texas economy cannot fully recover without the recovery of the restaurant and foodservice industry,” said Knight. “We are incredibly grateful to the Texas Workforce Commission for their partnership to ensure our industry not only improves, but returns to being the one of the largest private-sector employers in the State of Texas. TWC has been an incredible partner throughout the pandemic, and with the decision to invest in employers and employees of Texas restaurants, they once again demonstrate their commitment to Texas’ recovery and growth."