Restaurants Eager For Omicron, High Cost Of Food

DETROIT (AP) – Although restaurants in the United States and Canada are open without restrictions and often full, they are entering their second winter of the coronavirus pandemic anxious about what awaits them: labor shortages, rising prices of the food and the omicron variant.

“I am extremely worried. I’ve never felt like we’re safe, ”said Caroline Glover, chef and owner of Annette restaurant in Aurora, a Denver suburb.

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The rapid spread of omicron is already battering the industry in Britain and elsewhere, with restaurants, hotels and bars reporting cancellations in the busiest and most lucrative season of the year. Businesses called on the British government to offer help after authorities warned people to think twice before socializing. Scotland and Wales have pledged millions of pounds for business, adding pressure for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the same in England.

“It is very devastating. Large groups, tables with more than eight to 16 people, those have practically disappeared. That’s crucial for restaurants around Christmas, ”said Jeff Galvin, co-owner of Galvin Restaurants, a group of five posh restaurants in London.

Many businesses say hundreds of corporate lunch reservations vanished overnight as infections increased and when Johnson announced tougher restrictions, including mandatory use of indoor face masks, although restaurants remain open as usual.

Glover, in Colorado, fears new restrictions if infections continue to climb. For now, business has returned, with its room working at full capacity – compared to 50% capacity last year – and four areas outside were reserved well in advance.

Similarly, diners have returned, and activity is solid for Amy Brandwein, boss and owner of Centrolina Italian restaurant and small café, Piccolina, in Washington. After its restaurants survived the lockdowns with take-out orders and grocery sales, “I can say that we are back at 2019 levels,” he said.

But getting staff is still difficult. In a recent survey of 3,000 restaurant operators in the United States, 77% of those surveyed said they didn’t have enough workers to meet demand, the National Restaurant Association said.

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