Justin Winslow: Challenges for Michigan’s Restaurant and Lodging Industry

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The restaurant and lodging industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, and businesses face an uphill battle ahead with reopening and regaining customers. Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO, spoke with Justin Winslow, president of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association in a Tele-Town Hall. The pair discussed the challenges and current state of the industry.

Winslow outlined that his main concern is businesses closing for good due to COVID-19. Many communities rely on restaurants and the possibility of thousands of restaurants closing for good in Michigan could be detrimental.

The industry regained hope, though, when restaurants in the Upper Peninsula were able to reopen in only three and a half days, shared Winslow.

“It was a short window but they did a very good job,” said Winslow. “They had to demonstrate that this industry is capable of making these provisions.”

Winslow revealed that he is in discussions on the possibility of reopening outdoor seating for restaurants across the state. This could include possibly closing down streets to create room for diners, he explained.

Even with hardships ahead, Winslow emphasized that he is confident in the industry’s resilience.

“I know it’s going to be a long road back. But this industry is pretty creative and is really resilient, so I anticipate some interesting innovation coming from the operators in this industry, both on the corporate and the independent side, to manage this new reality,” said Winslow. “So just stay with us, we’re going to be there for you. Maybe in a slightly different capacity, but will be there for you.”


Listen to previous Tele-Town Hall’s here.

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