Restaurants say the eased-up regulations are killing them - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
HomeThe 907Restaurants say the eased-up regulations are killing them

Restaurants say the eased-up regulations are killing them

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The damage has already been done. When Must Read Alaska reached John (his name is changed to protect him from government retaliation), he was on a conference call with his partners, trying to figure out how or when to reopen their signature Anchorage restaurant.

Or, more accurately, if they can reopen at all.

The new “Phase 2” regulations, announced by the Dunleavy Administration on Wednesday, were leaving restaurant owners scratching their heads and peering into their now-empty wallets.

The emergency regulations allow restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity, or no more than 50 customers, but the required distancing of tables at 10-feet distances puts a similar cap on the number of customers they can seat. The math isn’t working for a lot of restaurants and the net result is they can’t open — there would not be enough business to staff up the downtown Anchorage dining establishment. They can seat no more people than they could under the old restrictions, John said.

What’s more, the restaurant owner said, the loans from the federal government, known as Paycheck Protection Program loans, only apply to wages and rent. What he needs is to completely restock the pantry with fish, meats and vegetables, dairy and other fresh ingredients that make the restaurant an experience. This is not about throwing pizzas or flipping a previously frozen burger.

When he closed the restaurant under government orders over a month ago, everything had to be thrown away, frozen, or given away. Now, John wondered, who in the restaurant industry will have the money to get the engine of the restaurants going again?

Like other independent restauranteurs, John and his partners were in the middle of deciding if they can reopen in Phase II of the “open” economy in Alaska. Many others he knows won’t, he said. The regulations change too quickly, and the governor could reverse his policy and shut everything down at the drop of a hat. The ability to open at all is now in peril.

Another restaurant owner in Anchorage said she’s terrified of the state government pulling her liquors license if there’s any infraction, no matter how small, of the emergency regulations. She, too, won’t be opening during Phase II, because she’s watched as the state and municipality’s emergency orders changed — sometimes by the hour.

The South Anchorage restaurant owner doesn’t want to risk purchasing the groceries for her establishment, only to be shut down again by the government with just a few hours notice.

An Anchorage man who owns a bouncy-gym for children says his prospects are bleak. He doesn’t know if he’ll make it, and every loan and grant he has applied for has not come through.

In Skagway, a mechanic we’ll call Joe said 100 percent of his work for six months of the year is repairing tour buses. Not a single bus is running, and the town is a ghost town. He doesn’t know if he’ll make it.

Skagway’s Broadway Street has become a ghost town.

Even the Skagway grocery store and hardware store, both considered essential businesses under the shutdown, have lost enormous revenue because the population of Skagway is still under 1,000. It will not grow to three times its winter size this summer as the workforce moves in to manage and serve the million-plus tourists that were expected before the cruise industry collapsed.

Skagway is so empty, with the stores on Broadway still boarded up, you could run down the street naked unwitnessed by a single soul.

Whether the federal funding that is sitting in the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee that has been set aside for businesses will be enough is also in grave doubt. The committee chairman, Rep. Chris Tuck, says he wants the governor to adopt the Tuck plan for putting money out into communities. The committee has sat on the money for over two weeks.

By now, losses at the first restaurant are past $1 million, and the second restaurant is half that. There’s only $290 million in that state pot for business loans, and Tuck wants it all out the door as grants.

However the funds get out the door — by loans or by politically-charged grants — they won’t even begin to cover the losses in the restaurant sector, much less for mechanics, photo studios, bouncy gyms, and hair salons.

Restaurants have been closed for so long now, some of their staff have left the state, while others are actually getting by on unemployment benefits, with the federal $600 bonus having given a boost for some workers who won’t come in to work at at empty restaurant, only to make pocket change in tips. For some, it’s more expensive to drive to work than it is to stay at home and scrape by on unemployment benefits.

What has unfolded is a scenario where these restaurants cannot open because they cannot seat enough customers, and they’ve lost so much money that they can’t pay their past-due bills and buy the food they need. No supplier is going to extend them credit.

“All of us have to pay the vendors that we owed when we closed last month,” John said. “The product has to come out of our own wallets because government funding so far won’t pay for it and it’s the largest expense we have. This is hindering a lot of companies from being able to reopen, because the cost of restarting the car is more than we have in our pockets.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Immediate direct grants are the only way the restaurant and bar business is going to recover. Something like $1,000 for every seating capacity number. If you can seat fifty people, a $50,000 grant. The muni is talking about grants up to $10,000 to only those who didn’t get PPE loans, but many who took out the loans won’t have them partially forgiven because it’s hard to get the employees back to work, as the article mentions. The state has had $290 million for small business relief for over two weeks and nothing has happened. As Joe Biden would say, “C’mon man!”

    • Joe is in deep do do. The Obama former admin is unraveling after Flynn case is dropped. He’s done. Toast. Hillary may swing for treason.

  • There is only one solution short of absolute starvation. Defy the so-called Government Orders. The whole reason for what is happening was planned. Defy all the demands!!!!! Open and refuse to close!!!!! Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • I think for the most part that restaurants and small businesses are on their own and should not count on too much help from the government sources. If you want to be mad at somebody be mad at China. We did away with law and sovereignty so you can now actually sue a country like China and possibly recover some losses from there holdings in the United States which there are many

    • China owns most of our pork processing plants. They own land, movie theators etc. Pretty diversified.

    • Greg,
      With your philosophy, every business in the country should be on its own. How about banks and airlines that are ‘qualifying’ as worthy of taxpayer money because they overextended themselves by betting on the come with other peoples’ money, not Wuhan v. Why should all the “too big to fail” manipulators qualify for anything except what every American small business is facing? Bankruptcy. Everywhere you look, the “class” divisions in America become more apparent. Some get help, most do not. Take a look at Alaska and what politicians are doing with the “federal financial help”. China is at fault for Wuhan v. Not for the leftist anti-American surge to not let “any crisis go to waste”. Why do those ‘politicians’ keep getting paid, with benefits? Sure, sue China. See how that works out. I get a little bitter at what some are trying to do to our country and state.

      • Not saying they should be on their own. Just not going to get the help they need.

  • If you study what has happened, you will find it started in North Carolina and was unlawfully transferred to China. The doctor that heads our health care system unlawfully transferred it with millions of taxpayer dollars to China in the first place! Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Dang see more……that’s pretty far out there.

      • The University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill had joint research on campus with Chinese scientists and were hybridizing bat viruses into more potent forms for study. Similar work was also performed in Canada and in Australia. A Chinese national researcher was caught in Detroit trying to smuggle out virus samples back to China.

        RNA viruses are easier to play with in major labs than DNA forms. Just be very glad this wasn’t a retrovirus.

  • Even before Walker took half of the PFD, and the legislature continued taking it, there’s been this constant noise of “No State Income Tax” by those whom were financially able to afford the loss from their PFD.
    Along with that is how the legislature is protecting their base by no real adjustment in state payroll, union work projects, or agencies budgets.
    All of us less than middle class “Deplorables” took the financial hit several years ago, and are still taking it. You must have discounted the fact that we are over 70% of the voting base.
    I can no longer afford paying rent. I’m having to spend the summer living in my 10 foot cargo trailer. Maybe even all next winter too. What’s really telling though is that compared to about half of us “Deplorables” I’m still doing fairly well. By not paying rent, I can still afford my car and insurance payments.
    Don’t count on us to care if you upper classes go belly up. You apparently sacrificed us to your benefit, and we will welcome you to our lower class. We will even vote to expedite leveling the playing field. Yes to any and all bond issues, tobacco or alcohol taxes, whatever.
    The Price Is Right “Come On Down”.

    • I’m not sure where your trailer is parked but if you paid or will pay rent in future then you, sir, voting for bonds and taxes will also be voting to increase future rents. Because landlords typically don’t subsidize housing… so, you know, they pass those taxes along to renters. Just saying… It helps approximately no one to play this vindictive game.

      Either way, I’m sorry to hear about your plight. It breaks my heart to see the deterioration of Anchorage over the last 20 years. Best of luck to you.

      • My apologies for this late reply. I had to open the campground over the weekend that I’m hosting. Cottonwood trees, winter winds dead-fall everywhere. Had to clean it up by hand, by myself. Dog tired.
        You keep saying “you” when I was saying “us”. I’m merely relating the Alaska “view” from my window. You probably have a different “view”.
        My intent was to give the “No State Income Tax” persons some perspective, a look at an “unforeseen consequence” of their position.
        The latest Anchorage bond issues passed. More will also be passed. A little more rent will be more than offset. Us “Deplorables” are coming out ahead.
        We’re voting our best interest, and not being vindictive. Just making up a little, for the loss in our PFDs.
        Note: Soon as property values drop enough, I’m planning to use my VA home loan guarantee. Hurry up and return your house keys to the bank. I’m old, I don’t have forever.

  • “his name is changed to protect him from government retaliation…”
    Let’s just think about that!

    • Yep, reminds me of the line “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”, or as Reagan put it “The nine most terrifying words in the English language”

    • Perceived possible or potential. It could just be paranoia.

  • Dr. Fauci is to blame for ALL of this. If you will study his past, he is famous for doing things like this for many, many years. A medical woman who was sent to prison for 5 years by him just released a book telling about all of this. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • You’re exactly right! They have ripped down the original video called Plandemic on YouTube.. I found part of it.. I’m leaving here for everyone to see before it’s gone too. If this was not true, why is it being immediately deleted from the site? It’s ridiculous..

      Watch “Dr. Judy Mikovits speaks about the agenda behind vaccines for
      Coronavirus.” on YouTube
      https://youtu.be/_W3szpDHN44

  • Restaurateurs, fight for your federal civil rights –and win– like Shelley Luther did.
    .
    Failure, whining, being “terrified” are not options!

  • Dunleavy the RINO of all RINOs has dun screwed this state over worse than a 12.0 earthquake. The mandates have no force of Law, he admitted that on national radio. Just open the restaurants and try to move on from this fakedemic to hell with this governor.

    • No! Gov. Dunleavy has managed this uncertain and changing situation better than any other governor. What state, what nation has done as well as Alaska? We learn new facets about this disease every day; for instance, that it came to Alaska from NYC! Given the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic you cannot possibly fault Dunleavy. We can fault ourselves; Alaska has a boom and bust economy. So if you cannot pay cash for something you should not buy it. We used our oil money in no small part to build an economy of dependency, hundreds of villages that contribute nothing to their own schools, emergency services, justice, etc. We assume the good times are the norm, but a bust always comes. So we should not now be surprised that now we see our businesses saying give us grants. Yes, we should blame China. If we had the courage of our antecedents we would be advocating for attacking China today. But don’t blame Dunleavy. He stuck to his guns, led us through these dark and stormy seas, and showed us the route to a safe harbor. Again, no one has done better. No one else has done as well as Dunleavy.

      • What state, what nation has done as well as Alaska?
        .
        Sweden, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas did better…

  • If restaurants were allowed 100% occupancy would they actually achieve anywhere close to that number? In other words, during a global pandemic is cramming people into a small building and serving them food a marketable service?
    .
    I suspect that the damage is done and many small restaurants will not be coming back, those that will survive are those who have no or little debt and the cash on hand to survive this downturn.
    .
    Workers will not come back while unemployment pays more than the few people who go out and dine. Is it possible that the dining experience as we know it is going the way of the horse and buggy or record player???

  • Many of these will transition from loan to grant during the upcoming wave of Ch.7 filings. Arguing about that beforehand will be largely unnecessary.

  • We need to let these people open up and let the patrons and the business owners decide best how to handle their interactions. This is madness.

  • That picture of Skagway is like something out of an apocalyptic sci-fi movie! You guys need to look at that picture again…imagine you’re there. It’s a whole town! You need to stop bickering and stop blaming everybody and their brother. The whole point of the article was that something needs to be done. I don’t know what, that’s for you guys to figure out…once you quit pointing fingers at each other! The virus finally made it to my area and the town and villages are closed down even tighter, so don’t expect any spending from this area for quite awhile yet.

    • Zombie Apocalypse!

  • The buildings, the restaurant equipment, the restaurant parking lots, etc. are not going away. Restaurants that own their own building, with no mortgage (which is actually what the verb own means) will survive. In other cases the owners of the buildings may be looking for new lessees to operate the facility, maybe under a new name, maybe not. But if the customers are there the building and the equipment will be back in operation. Right now the customers will be cautious, and the restaurant employees can do better collecting payments from government. Customers don’t want to catch this disease and neither do the employees. The bad news is that the service sector, while easily restarted when demand returns, has limited value to our economy. Yes, there is value but the wages are low and all the goods they sell are imported even when the customer came on a cruise ship (thus the customer too was imported). Barriers to entry are very low, and that is both good and bad. A dollar paid to a miner is worth about four to six times more than that same dollar paid to a restaurant worker to the Alaska economy, and starting a mine is much more difficult than is starting a restaurant; particularly when that restaurant is already built and equipped. Again, as soon as the customers come and the employees come back to work the restaurants will be back even if with new operators in some cases.

    • How considerate. Is there a book out there such as “Helpful Hints for a Holodomor”
      ?

      • Holodomor – Looked it up. Some evil history I never knew about.

        • You seem well versed in history, as am I, so it makes me wonder why this was a complete unknown to us. It was the “Soviets” and it was the “Great Depression”, but still how do you, somewhat successfully, sweep 4 million dead Ukrainians under the rug? Slightly more relevant to the post…the surest way to start a revolution is to let the populace starve. “Let them eat cake”! How did the Holodomor not trigger a (counter)revolution?

  • I at least tried to do my best because I was at home and instead of going to the grocery store for all this time I ordered pizzas. I am now so tired of pizza and chicken wings. Never thought I would see the day.

  • What I love is how “conservatives” are all about cutting government spending, as long as it isn’t the government spending that benefits them or their cronies.

    • What does that have to do with the topic of this article?

      • It’s more of a response to the first commenter “Mayor Dan.”

        • Yeah but government shut down my business, while letting many others, including pot shops and liquor stores, and airport bars and restaurants stay open as ‘essential.’ I know you are smart enough to see the difference.

          • So are you saying that if government had also shut down pot shops, liquor stores, and airport bars and restaurants that you would not be asking the government to bail you out? If that is your contention, I find it hard to believe. I do see a pattern of hypocrisy. The same sort of thinking that allowed a prominent conservative State senator to indulge in two extravagant state retirements, while also devoting much of his senatorial career to ensuring that others would never see the same benefits. Fool me once …

        • No, I am not suggesting that those businesses that were deemed essential should have been shut down too. I’m saying that no business should have been shut down because we all could have applied safe practices. The government should not be picking winners and losers.

          • Well said. The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers, nor taking from some to give to others. This whole exercise IS a demonstration of what conservatives fear and loathe about government; the excessive control. In this case, they may be loaning money or giving grants, but only to make up for their colossal error in judgment- which was NOT trusting the people to make good decisions. This is why conservatives don’t trust government; because IT, rarely, if ever, trusts them. Here’s to a poorer, weaker government, that can’t exercise such extreme control leading to such catastrophic errors in the future. Government should be the last resort, after all else fails, the final option, having exhausted every other possible solution among a free people.

          • Lawrence,

            “Government should be the last resort, after all else fails, the final option, having exhausted every other possible solution among a free people.” It kind of seems like that’s what happened, people all over the world weren’t doing simple things like washing their hands and staying away from others, so government stepped in as a last resort because idiots couldn’t control themselves and just had to lick ice cream in stores, gather to sing, and go on cruises among other such stupid things.
            .
            I wish that people could be trusted to follow basic hygiene and show some measure of being responsible for their own actions, sadly this pandemic has shown that most are incapable of doing the bare minimum. While government isn’t the answer, leaving idiots to their own devices certainly has shown itself to be a flawed plan…especially when the idiots are running the government.

          • You say that no business should have been shut down as though that is a fact. The truth is, it was a judgment call. Your reference to “picking winners and losers” seems to indicate that you believe the Mayor and Governor acted with nefarious motives, which of course is ridiculous. Perhaps your real motive is to justify taking money from the government, and from your first post it sounds like “the more the better.”

        • Decreeing that a bar in an airport can stay open but a bar in downtown cannot is government picking winners and losers, not a judgement call. Why the disparity? Can you justify it? Let’s hear your rationale. The tremendous economic damage will hurt our economy and real people for many years.

          • I agree that bars in airports should also be shut down. I do not agree that all businesses and all persons are responsible enough that no government intervention is called for. But to repeat, my main point here is that I see a recurring pattern of hypocrisy among self proclaimed conservatives where government spending that benefits them and their causes is deemed acceptable, while most other government spending is labeled as wasteful.

  • Have to wonder what conference calls the mayor is having with the DNC central committee to coordinate lockdowns. Any call about lockdowns with DNC operatives would be a major red flag.

  • This will be a serious lessons learned event that will forever change personal and business models and behaviors. A lesson we have none for ever is that they government at any level can never solve our problems. Whatever they do people will not be treated equally nor will they all comply with rules. This is not a statement that was wrong in what they tried to do. But it human nature do try to do the greatest good based on what you think ? will benefit you first and everyone else second. We have never had a similar radical change across society except maybe Great Depression or the Ice Age.

    The blaming, complaining, non-compliance, demonstrations disasters effects and human costs where predictable but only but best guesses. Until a vaccine ? is developed and successfully treatment methods we have to accept the death rate as a necessary result so that the majority can return to work and travel without extreme measures being required.

    Let people be responsible for their own protection and health. The vast majority can go out to eat, travel, work, play and go to school without ever getting the virus ? or getting it and surviving like with any other disease. The protections and restrictions have proven to be far worse than virus except to the person with the virus.

    Through out history we have had diseases that have maimed and killed while we buried the dead and science searched for cures. The losses are acceptable for the survival of the majority.

  • Thanks for AWSOME column Suzanne. Your loss is enormous.
    Gayle Cederberg

  • Look up Dr. Judy Mikovits and her book because she tells how the Vaccines are the killers because they were made with animals and animals carry animal diseases that transfer to humans and that is why there are so many new diseases found in humans today. Dr. Judy Mikovits actually worked on these Vaccines before she learned the truth. That truth was what sent her Unlawfully to jail for 5 years with no charges. Dr. Fauci was the main person that did just that. Your Immune System was given to you to protect you without all the terrible additives put in Vaccines. If you study Animal Science it will tell you to NOT buy a pregnant animal to take to your farm because the female needs first to develope an immunity to the diseases on your farm that she can transfer to her offspring. That is God Given Science!!!!! Relying on Vaccines is what got you in this terrible fix. PLEASE look up this information. I will look up another Interview of a VERY well educated Doctor that explains a whole lot more too. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris (I am under no legal disability. I can speak in my own behalf.)

  • PLEASE watch this Video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OsxOo9oi-I The Deleted Video of Dr Rashid Buttar Interview. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    .

  • If you listen to Doctor Thomas Cowan, a Doctor in San Francisco at;
    “The RSB Show 5-11-20 – Queen quarantine, Dr. Thomas Cowan, Electric universe, 5G”
    you will learn in very plain English what this so-called Virus really is. He proves in very simple words that we are dealing with a hoax meant to enslave us. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Please try to tell that to the dead and dying!

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