COVID-19 is killing Vermont’s restaurants

Savage Premium Subscription


In the restaurant world, if the chefs run out of ingredients for a menu item, they inform the wait staff to “86 it” — remove it from the menu. The shutdown in Vermont of essentially its entire restaurant industry will likely result in the “86ing” of 30% or more of its restaurants, never to reopen. COVID-19 has killed 53 people in Vermont…and also thousands of jobs. Restaurants nationwide are shut down, but Vermont’s restaurant industry is particularly vulnerable. In 2018, Vermont boasted some 1,413 eating and drinking establishments, and restaurants generated $1.1 billion in estimated sales. In 2019, some 29,600 people were employed in restaurant and food service jobs (9% of all Vermont state employment). Many of those people can be seen in a recent video with signs that say “#Dont86Us.” The Green Mountain State relies greatly on its tourism industry, which in turn requires a diverse, quality supply of food and lodging. A particular attraction for Vermont tourism is its family-owned restaurants, which tragically are more likely to be swallowed in that 30% (or more?) of closures than resilient national chains. Yet Patrick Leahy’s recent plans for the distribution of CARE Act funds ignores restaurants (and farms), allocating most money to state agencies.