In an interview with Yahoo finance earlier this week Danny Meyer, one of the US restaurant industry’s brightest lights struck a cautious tone on how he sees the future restaurant industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yahoo finance Editor Brian Sozzi spoke with Danny Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group that owns and operates a collection of iconic New York restaurants and a sizable catering and events business.
On the immediate exit from the current situation Meyer was restrained in his expectations saying: “It’s going to take all of us a while to get back into the routine of gathering. We will want to do it. But it’s going to take a while.”
Meyer is highly respected in US restaurant and business circles with a restaurant career that spans more than 30 years. He is also known for his optimism and big ideas, at the moment he is displaying very considered pragmatism.
As founder of Shake Shack, a pioneering restaurant business model called enlightened hospitality, he is facing the same challenges as other restaurant chains, large and small, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Meyer is thankfully for him seeing support from US hedge funds that have not only continued to report bullishly on Shake Shack and continue investing also.
All of Meyer’s 19 restaurants in New York City are closed along with ones in Washington, DC. His catering and events businesses have taken financial hits. In mid-March with minimal revenue coming into the business and concerns about worker safety, Meyer was among the first in the space to lay off workers — some 2,000 in total between restaurants and the corporate office.
Meyer is donating his own salary and pay cuts from other company executives to a relief fund he set up for laid-off workers called HUGS.
Concluding the interview on ‘life after COVID-19’ and supporting his workforce Meyer told Sozzi: “So, now, the stimulus package tells us we’ll forgive your loans if you hire everybody back by June. Well, I can pretty much guarantee you that restaurants are not going to be back full force by June. So hopefully, we’ll see somebody come to their senses. And it’s just not realistic for our business. Meyer then explained that he will re-recruit workers and re-train them once social distancing restrictions are lifted.”