COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) -- Although Gov. Tate Reeves is easing restrictions on dine-in restaurants, one member of the restaurant industry said there are still many challenges facing owners.
"By the time that this pandemic ends, over 11 percent of restaurants, and that's nationwide, that holds true in Mississippi, will not re-open," Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association Executive Director Pat Fontaine said.
The Columbus Rotary hosted Fontaine on a Zoom call.
He gave an outlook on the industry before, during, and after the coronavirus pandemic. He stated that some restaurants in Mississippi prior to the outbreak were operating week-to-week. Even with the governor's allowance of 50% occupancy, that may not be enough to sustain their business.
Fontaine said restaurants that do reopen will have to adjust their long term business model, such as, catering more events, trimming down menu offerings, and shifting their business to be more mobile-like turning their restaurants into food trucks.
"I'm confident that many of our favorite restaurants and the dishes that we enjoy so much they will return," Fontaine said. "We are an industry of problem solvers, we deal with a variety of problems each and every day, simply give us time we will figure it out."
Some of the problems restaurants are facing: is operating at 50 percent even worth opening for, will employees come back to work? And of course, consumers, will they feel comfortable eating out in public again.