Biz Markie July 18, 2020: Hunger Games
Doesn’T add up on the front page centerpiece this week, the hunger games, the restaurant industry is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus restrictions. Only 75 percent of them nationwide are even able to reopen, and now they have to take on new costs just to open like masks and gloves for employees extra workers to handle carryout orders and additional shifts to sanitize everything multiple times per day. Owners are innovating on the fly, but in an industry built on volume and high margin, experiences profitability during a global pandemic is off the menu most indefinitely. When everything shut down in march, brittany, ruby miller, knew reopening would be like launching seven new restaurants, so they created what is essentially a whole new business plan built for a pandemic. She talked about that with courier reporter andy brownfield so i’m. Here, with brittany, ruby miller, the ceo of jeffrey, culinary entertainment, which operates seven restaurants across three states, now you’ve been open for just over a month. What all did it take to get to that point? It took a a lot of people. We really started thinking about this uh about two weeks. After we closed when the shock kind of wore off and now then it was like let’s get back to business. Uh we’re gon na there’s gon na be a time that we open, and so we spent you know three months drafting a forty page, uh covered playbook for our staff, so when they came back that they felt that they were trained and that they had enough knowledge And skills to be able to manage and do what we do at the level that we do in a coveted world uh, there was lots that we did to to the actual floor plans.
I was on the restaurant uh advisory board for ohio, and so i feel that i take personal um pride in in making sure that we’re doing our part and that we’re six foot distanced and if not, that there’s barriers. And so you think about your your floor plan. You think about your space, your physical space, you think about training. I mean everything that you can uh every and this isn’t just us this is everybody there’s been so much innovation in the restaurant, seeing that i’m. Just so proud of of of everybody doing our parts uh, it was a lot. It was a lot, though, and uh we’re just happy to be open. Yeah tell me about some of that innovation. I know restaurants have had to be creative to bring in new revenue streams, as their capacity has been limited. Yes, so capacity definitely is limited. Luckily, for ohio, we, we are not limited to this 50 percent of your fire code. As long as the space is is again distanced uh, we can have more than 50 percent and do it in a in a way that is beyond uh beyond safe and uh, but again it’s. The innovation really it’s a disruption, and i i welcome disruptions uh. For me, it was during the time off think about this in the most positive way that we can uh, where this could be incremental sales, whether it’s meal kits or carryout or or you know, virtual wine tours with with keegan or uh.
You know whatever it might be, sending a chef into a home doing a catering event, so really that um will never stop this has now. I think it has caused. It has forced uh leaders, restaurateurs bartenders, everybody to think uh. You know what your break even is you know what these numbers are? How do you get there uh that might not be a hundred percent dine in because we act. We actually know that it’s not going to be so. We have to be able to uh service uh other other revenue streams and other types of people who don’t want to eat in restaurants, and the national restaurant association has pulled its members and said that 75 percent of them say that they’re not going to turn a Profit in the next six months under this new these new protocols, what does the road to profitability? Look like for jeff, ruby, culinary entertainment, well we’re in that 75 percent? I think i think if you talk to anybody in the restaurant industry, if we can break even for 2020 that’s a win and i’m one of the most competitive people you you probably ever meet, and so for me to how that tastes coming out of my mouth Is let’s break even um, but but that’s where we are, we don’t know the future. We don’t know uh what’s, going to happen and so and we operate at a very high level and so we’re not going to see a prime stakes or because of the the cost of the inventory we have to operate.
Very lean. We’Ve got to be very smart with our finances. We also know who we are and we’re not willing to sacrifice that so um we’ve got to be good business people and but we’ve also got to give the public what they want and what they expect when they come into our restaurants. Absolutely well.