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Delta Variant May Contribute to More Restaurant Closures

Outdoor dining is popular in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The survey indicates that many restaurant-goers are choosing to eat outside rather than dining indoors, and in West Hartford outdoor tables are generally packed when the weather is favorable.

Outdoor dining on LaSalle Road in West Hartford is popular in 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Christine Stuart,CTNewsJunkie.com

Ronni Newton, We-Ha.com, contributed to this report

Six in 10 people have changed their restaurant use due to the highly contagious Delta variant, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association is pointing to the survey released Tuesday to ask Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. After distributing over $28 billion, the fund was closed on July 6.

The survey of 1,000 adults between Aug. 13-15 found 19% of adults have stopped going to restaurants and 37% say they ordered takeout or delivery rather than go to the restaurant. The survey by the National Restaurant Association found 9% canceled plans to eat out at a restaurant in recent weeks, and 19% have chosen to sit outside instead of dine inside.

Billy Grant, chef/owner of Restaurant Bricco on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center, said while there’s no concrete evidence that the fear of the Delta variant is the cause, he’s recently seek an uptick in takeout orders.

“The only real difference I’ve seen – and knock on wood we’re very blessed and still busy – is takeout has picked up,” Grant said.

Bricco still has plenty of patrons dining indoors, as well as outdoors on the regular patio and in the dining corral.

Restaurant Bricco owner Billy Grant celebrated the 25th anniversary of his West Hartford restaurant on Jan. 18, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Already 600 Connecticut restaurants have closed their doors since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The rise of coronavirus variants like Delta threaten to push these restaurants closer to permanently closing their doors,” CT Restaurant Association Executive Director Scott Dolch said.

Connecticut has more than 2,066 pending applications that total more than $489 million in stabilization funding that would be addressed by the $60 billion proposed replenishment bills, according to Dolch.

“There are thousands of Connecticut small business owners stuck in limbo waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide the stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future,” Dolch said.

Would a vaccine mandate help?

The survey found restaurant goers are divided. The survey found 32% of adults say they would be less likely to go out to a restaurant if there was a requirement that all customers had to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine to dine inside at restaurants in their area. Thirty-three percent of adults say this requirement would make them more likely to go out to a restaurant, while 35% say it would have no impact on their decision to go out to a restaurant.

Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, said the industry is struggling.

“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” he said. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”

There are still 177,000 restaurant applications waiting for funding.

“The small gains that our industry has made toward financial security are in danger of being wiped out, dashing the hopes of communities, entrepreneurs, and consumers nationwide,” Kennedy wrote in the letter to Congress.

Republished with permission from CTNewsJunkie.com, all rights reserved.

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