Restaurant association concerned about more closures after holiday, but some businesses find ways to expand

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Things may not be looking good for your favorite restaurant.

The National Restaurant Association reports more than 110,000 eateries have closed permanently this year because of the pandemic, with 10,000 closures happening within the past three months alone.

Normally the holiday season is a busy time for Memphis restaurants but this year, many of them are struggling to stay open.

“This is the season that many restaurant folks count on to get through the early of the year where things are historically slower anyways,” said Mike Miller, the incoming president for the Memphis Restaurant Association.

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The National Restaurant Association is urging Congress to pass a larger stimulus package, and quickly. The group said a recent survey shows most restaurants are reporting an average of 36 percent drop in revenue. Miller said the drop is close to 40 percent in Memphis.

“I think there are a lot of folks that will do every bit of their best to try to get through New Years’ and take advantage of what is there but then come January there will be a lot of hard decisions that have to be made,” said Miller.

But some restaurants are finding ways to expand.

“As soon as they walk in the door, they’ll see the heart and soul of Memphis in there,” said Derrick Moore, Slim and Husky’s Chief Development Officer.

Slim and Husky’s Pizza Beeria is opening its seventh location on Union Avenue in Memphis next week, making this location the third one to open during the pandemic. But Moore said it hasn’t been easy.

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“The confidence of the consumer has dropped tremendously,” he said. “They don’t know if it’s going to be shut down or opened up all the way, 50 percent, 25 percent to zero.”

But Moore said it was possible and he believes other businesses can do the same.

“I would just encourage people to push through but be smart about it because it is capital intense and you have to have your funds right and the structure of your business sound,” said Moore.

Slim and Husky’s will open next Wednesday from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. at 634 Union Avenue.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Restaurant Association said they are continuing to meet with both mayors and the health department regularly to see what can be done to support business owners.

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