Host of ‘Bar Rescue’ says up to 25 percent of surviving bars may close, but ‘Boom Town is coming’

The Donlon Report

CHICAGO (The Donlon Report) — While life is getting back to normal in many places, “Bar Rescue” host Jon Taffer says bars and restaurants that managed to keep their doors open through the pandemic are not out of the woods yet. 

“Even though we’re starting to see restaurants fill up again, profitability is not there yet. It’s going to take the people of my industry quite a long time to fully dig out of this,” Taffer said. 

Among the bars and restaurants which have survived, Taffer says he thinks between 22 percent and 25 percent will close nationwide. While part of the issue is tied to ramping up staffing, he said an increase in prices for supplies is “devastating,” with some more than doubling in price. 

“Those little ketchup packets that we all know, those used to cost seven cents… they’re 40 cents now for a ketchup packet, if you can get it,” he said. “Until our supply side stabilizes and we can get our prices back to normal, we still have a pretty deep hole to dig out of.”

Taffer says he is seeing a boom in business in Las Vegas, where he’s based, after casinos received a green light to reopen at 100 percent capacity earlier this month. 

The number of visitors compared to last year is already up more than 2,000 percent with nearly 2.6 million for the month of June. A new influx of customers is surely welcome, as thousands of bars and restaurants were forced to close for good over the pandemic.

“It’s remarkable, it was like we flipped a switch and they all came back,” he said. “The Strip is packed, the casinos full. Last weekend, my friends couldn’t even get reservations – the city was sold out.”

Additionally, as restaurants struggle to hire enough employees to ramp back up, he said many will likely opt to close for multiple days a week in order to be fully staffed when they are open.

“That still is a reduction in revenue, so the pandemic is still impacting our sales on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Some businesses fared better during the pandemic, Taffer said, if they were able to adapt.

“They were the ones that had some resources, the ones that were a little more nimble, could act a little more quicker, reacted to the limitations in the marketplace which also had opportunities like to go and curbside,” he said.

Still, Taffer says he’s optimistic looking to the new future.

“Boom town is coming – the consumer activity is there, let’s get ready for it, let’s get our employees back and get ready because we’re going to have a heck of a fall and winter,” he said.

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