As part of our Stories from the Front Lines series, Restaurant Hospitality reached out to restaurateurs to share their experiences during the coronavirus crisis. Here, Las Vegas restaurateur and consultant Elizabeth Blau shares her story.
This truly is an unprecedented time. It is hard not to feel absolutely heartbroken — as business owners, we have hundreds of employees and their families who rely on my husband and me for their livelihood. Our teams mean the world to us, so it is extremely difficult to face this pandemic with that context and responsibility. We have had to lay off so much of our staff because of mandatory closures. We are trying to pay them and cover their health care for as long as we possibly can but it gets more difficult every day.
I am constantly awed by the resilience of this industry and specifically this city. The power of our food and beverage community is palpable. There is an underlying spirit of kindness and cooperation.
Amid all the madness, our teams have been coming together in our efforts to help those in need. We have partnered with some incredible individuals and local non- profit organizations to create Delivering with Dignity, a comprehensive platform that provides freshly prepared, ready-to-eat meals to those most at risk in the Las Vegas area. This certainly isn’t about profit at this point. Delivering with Dignity is a way to keep our employees working and safe, and to spread necessary nourishment to our community.
The impact on our consulting business has also been profound. Many projects are stalled or simply cancelled. We are very lucky to have a handful of clients with long-lead endeavors. Together, we are navigating these unchartered waters and developing concepts, hotels and brands that will help the American economy as the 2020s progress.
There is honestly a massive amount of work to be done. We have created a Save our local Las Vegas restaurants group Facebook page to share vital information, best practices and inspirations. We are communicating with our fellow industry peers on what the latest government decisions are and how we can all best support each other. We are lobbying. I have been assertive and forward in asking our state and federal leaders for their help. Various bailout components have been uncertain and we need more than short-term action; we need a long-term strategy to help rebuild our communities and businesses for years to come. Small business and the independent restaurant community are a lifeblood of this country. We need protection. Our employees need protection. We must secure the future for our businesses to reopen and thrive again.
While we wait anxiously for this phase of the COVID-19 crisis to end, we all can help. We have a civil responsibility to practice social distancing and flatten the curve. We can call our local representatives. We can show kindness to those in need. I know we will weather this storm and come out of this stronger and smarter. Together, we can make a difference and make it through.