CHARR CEO SAYS MANY ANCHORAGE BUSINESSES WILL GO UNDER
“Life is a cabaret, old chum. Come to the cabaret!” – from the 1966 musical Cabaret
The CEO of the Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant, and Retailers Association has written a letter to the group’s entire membership statewide, expressing her deep disappointment in the actions of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
Sarah Daulton Oates, who just weeks ago stood side by side with the mayor as he announced massive reductions in capacity at restaurants and bars, and other emergency pandemic measures that crushed retailers, is standing by him no longer.
” You have undoubtedly heard by now about this afternoon’s announcement by Mayor Berkowitz that Emergency Order 15 (EO-15) will go into effect on Monday, August 3. EO-15 mandates a ‘four-week reset’ through limitations for individuals, gathering sizes, bars and nightclubs, restaurants and breweries, and bingo halls and theaters.
“More specifically, bars and nightclubs will be required to close except for takeout and delivery service, and restaurants and breweries will be required to close all indoor dining and drinking,” she wrote.
Oates said her letter was going statewide because she believes it is likely that other municipalities will follow Berkowitz’ lead.
“I can’t even begin to describe my current level of disappointment, heartache, and anger. To tell you the truth, I bawled for over ten minutes after receiving the news, as I know how devastating another closure will be to many of you. The last five months have been unbelievably trying for all of us, and my emotions finally came to a head,” she wrote.
Oates had tried to work with the mayor, and stood by him with the reduction of services, the closures and the mask mandates. But now, returning to a shutdown is too much.
“Our weeks of collaboration and negotiations that resulted in EO-14 (dialing back hospitality establishments to essentially Phase 2) were very encouraging. But the Municipality hasn’t given that order time to know whether it’s made a difference. Yet again, our lone industry has been singled out.”
“It’s important for me to also note that during his press conference, Mayor Berkowitz misled viewers when he stated that he has been keeping Alaska CHARR apprised on this pending shutdown. After weeks of talking with members of his administration on a daily basis, I suddenly received zero communications from them after EO-14 went into effect. Instead, I received forewarning only two hours before the press conference this morning,” Oates wrote.
“I’m very disappointed that the communication from the Municipality with the industry was discontinued once closures were again being considered. Outdoor dining is just not an option for many businesses. It is my opinion that relying on pending legislation at the federal level to save businesses, particularly when House Democrats and Senate Republicans are miles apart on many of the issues, is ludicrous.
“Regardless of our tireless efforts at the local, state, and federal levels, and regardless of what happens with the HEROES and HEALS legislation, I believe that we will see a significant number of permanent closures over the next year of our local bars and restaurants that we own, know, and love.
“My heart is breaking for our industry and the Anchorage community right now,” – Oates wrote.
“Please know that our team will continue to fight for all of you. Governor Dunleavy assured me during my call with him this Monday that he would continue to defer to local governments for at least the next three weeks, rather than considering statewide mandates or closures. With that, our efforts are focused on a federal aid package, continuing to work with AMCO and the ABC Board, and assisting our affiliates around the state when they request help on local issues,” Oates wrote.