Farmers, distillers and retailers all benefit when people return to restaurants
Restaurateurs make up a significant portion of Noble Cut Distillery’s customer base, so when restaurants closed in the spring of 2020 and then faced coronavirus-related restrictions for almost a year, liquor maker Gahanna suffered severe damage. heavy loss of income.
Coronavirus infections have declined dramatically in recent months as more Ohioans have been vaccinated, and now most COVID regulations are gone. As a result, the distillery is experiencing a kind of rebirth as more diners, bars and taverns return to the Noble Cut distribution list.
“Some of the customers we’ve worked with for years are starting to recall and order more products,” said Tony Guilfoy, Founder and Master Distiller of Noble Cut.
The alcohol industry isn’t the only part of Ohio’s economy to benefit from the rebound in the restaurant industry. Farmers sell more food, and manufacturers receive more orders for silver and glassware.
More than 60% of restaurateurs expect to at least break even this year, and 38% said sales have increased by at least 10% since the start of the year, according to a survey by the Ohio Restaurant Association released earlier this month. At the height of the pandemic last year, less than a third said they expected to break even.
“All of that pent-up demand,” said Anthony Hamilton, associate speaker and chief instructor in Kent State University’s Hospitality and Event Management program.
With theaters, concert halls and other entertainment options being limited or restricted for most of the past 16 months, consumers have spent less money. Now they are venturing into entertainment venues and nightlife destinations again, and much of their spending is growing the service industry.
And as restaurateurs experience an economic recovery, the benefits spill over to adjacent industries.
“All of the businesses associated with restaurants are booming,” Hamilton said.
Small businesses with fewer cash reserves and poor access to credit struggled the most in the height of the pandemic, and as more Ohioans venture into businesses they abandoned there At over a year old, small suppliers are among the biggest beneficiaries of the recovery.
“The local wine market is booming,” said Mandy Ulicney, senior lecturer in hospitality management at Kent State University in Ashtabula.
Ohio restaurants have relied more on state wineries in recent years, and the pandemic has exacerbated that trend. Local wineries, she said, have been most helpful in addressing supply chain issues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We see a lot of that local mindset,” Ulicney said. “As much as they can get locally, they get it locally. “
Farmers have more markets
Farmers sit near the start of a restaurant’s supply chain, growing the crops and raising the animals that end up making their way into the kitchen and dining room. Producers who suffered some of the biggest losses at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are now seeing much of that activity returning as rates of COVID infection drop and the number of vaccinations rises.
Paige’s Produce in Amanda sold much of its fruit and veg to bakeries and restaurants before COVID hit Ohio. Owner Brian Hesler connects with bakers and restaurateurs through Farmers’ Markets, where owners taste his products and then agree to place larger orders.
“So many markets were either closed or so restricted that they just weren’t going to pay the bills,” Hesler said.
The Fairfield County farmer managed to get by by changing his marketing strategy, a theme common to Ohio farms.
“A lot of people who traditionally sold to restaurants changed their marketing plans because they had to” at the start of the pandemic, said Brad Bergefurd, extension educator and assistant professor at the College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Ohio State.
Producers sold products and meat directly to consumers to maintain cash flow. With coronavirus infection rates falling, they are left with more sources of income, he said.
The economic recovery “is pretty good for farmers,” Bergefurd said. “With the reopening of restaurants, farmers have more markets today than a year ago.”
Restaurant rebound is also helping retail
When customers return to restaurants, taverns, steakhouses, and burger restaurants, the list of industries that benefit is long and even includes some sectors of the economy that are not directly related to restaurants.
“Even industries you don’t think of like freight and shipping” are benefiting from rising restaurant revenues, Hamilton said.
Consumers, for example, are more likely to frequent retail stores inside malls if they know they have food options, according to economists.
“Easton comes to mind as a perfect example,” said Colin Gabler, O’Bleness associate professor of marketing at Ohio University. The open-air mall has no shortage of restaurants squeezed between its boutiques and retail stores.
Shoppers want lunch or dinner between purchases and look to malls with successful restaurants, he said.
Economists point out that the state’s economy is unclear. Even as Ohioans cautiously return to businesses in the state, supply chain issues continue to hold back small restaurants due to shipping delays and inflated prices for needed goods.
And small businesses in the economy continue to experience a shortage of job seekers due to a lack of resources for childcare and lingering fears of COVID infection.
Nevertheless, restaurateurs and the businesses that depend on them are happy to see customers return.
“The whole industry is changing and it’s really interesting to watch,” said Ulicney.