With the Government Absent, Who Was Responsible for Saving Restaurants?

Hillary Dixler Canavan, writing for Eater:

Agency is hard enough to come by in daily life, but in a pandemic that’s made it clear just how little of it we actually have, choosing how to spend money becomes a compelling stand-in. It seems inevitable now that the choices available to even the most ethically minded diners have largely been consumer choices: Buy restaurant merch and gift cards. Get takeout and tip extravagantly. Avoid third-party delivery apps if possible. Dine outside. Eat at home.

But underneath every available option is the one terrible choice the government constructed for all of us: Engage with restaurants or watch the industry disappear. This is the wrong ultimatum, however, and one that only reinforces two distinct yet related axioms of American restaurant culture — that customers ought to have authority over workers, and that those workers matter less than their customers.

We have leaned toward “get takeout and tip extravagantly”, but it’s tough. Even making a conscientious effort to support our favorite restaurants, we’ve spent only a fraction of what we usually spend over the last year. It’s been a hard year for so many businesses, but it’s hard to not think that we, collectively, have most failed our restaurant industry. We even call it “hospitality”. How can you be hospitable during a frighteningly contagious and dangerous pandemic?

Wednesday, 17 March 2021