KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People who work in the restaurant industry are on edge as leaders try to get a handle on the coronavirus.
David Lopez wants nothing more than to see customers in the empty booths at Manny’s, the Crossroads restaurants that his family has owned and operated for the past 40 years.
“We have to have customers so we can take care of our employees, so we can keep our lights on, so that we can keep our doors spinning,” he said.
With talks of a possible second shutdown due to rising COIVD-19 cases, Lopez said many in the restaurant industry are worried about what that means for their businesses.
“You’re looking at most restaurants, they’ll be lucky to capture 50-55% of their sales that they were doing before, and that is a huge financial impact,” he explained.
“Nobody wants to shut down any part of our economy, but we want to make sure people stay safe,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said Wednesday.
Lucas said if data collected from health officials show that restaurants are not the source of spread, then they won’t need to be shut down. Right now, he’s mostly concerned about the problems the city is seeing at bars.
“A lot of our restaurants have done outstanding work on how they’ve complied with the COVID-19 orders,” Lucas said.
The mayor’s words were reassuring to Bill Teel, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association. Still he fears if the city were to impose tighter restrictions on restaurants, more would be forced to permanently close.
“Even with the current environment and the current occupancy levels, every week we have more restaurants that close,” Teel said.
For Lopez, no profit is worth a human life. At the same time, he said the entire community needs to bear the responsibility of preventing the spread of the virus.
“We have to unite and understand that by simply wearing a mask, not only are we taking care of the people that we love, we’re taking care of our community,” Lopez said. “We’re taking care of ourselves, and we’re also taking care of the businesses that we love to frequent.”
This week, cities like New York and Denver imposed 10 p.m. curfews for restaurants, only allowing them to continue curbside, pick-up or delivery after hours. Lopez and Teel said they could support something similar in Kansas City.