I see two possible futures for restaurants. In one, state and
local governments across the country move rapidly to help them
survive the closings and get going again when that’s safe. In the
other, bankruptcies cascade across the economy, and people are out
of work in numbers this country has not seen since the 1930s.
Will a country that is still bitter about bailing out banks and
airlines in the last financial crisis be ready to bail out
ramen-yas, pupuserias, vegan sandwich counters, dosa vendors and
natural wine bars? It depends on whether politicians and the
public see the money as handouts to people who made bad business
decisions (beginning, I suppose, with the decision to get into the
restaurant business) or as a triage measure that will save the
life of a national industry with sales of more than $800 billion
Bailouts should go bottom-up this time around, not top-down.