Did COVID-19 Destroy The Restaurant Industry Overnight

by birtanpublished on August 24, 2020

People pay a hundred dollars for a steak but they're not going to pay more than 24 for a chicken at jardiniere the restaurant industry we keep seven cents of every dollar wait wait wait let me let me get this

Straight so you do a million in a month you're only keeping 75 grand yep if we don't see that 120 billion dollar aid package go to restaurants we will see

An extinction event of about 65 to 70 of restaurants that just won't make it forget the 120 billion dollars doesn't pass who takes the biggest hit hospitality employment is gonna keep crashing this is getting

Worse it's not getting better that's a pretty bold statement we just made right but that's not a small statement i want my industry to survive but to do so

I think it has to shut down the vaccine is not going to be ready how do we unpack that 120 billion dollars to not say we need to do another one 90 days later 90 days later think of the economic

Dream all those people on unemployment all those people without health insurance were the second largest industry in america second only to the us government too big to fail americans are dying by

The thousands and we're all on a leaderless ship it's fair to say you don't have a picture of president trump on that wall quarantine orders theater closures all that kind of stuff

Is gonna further dampen restaurant spending how long do you think it's gonna take that we get to three months six months four months or you don't know i do know i can tell you almost exactly so my guest today is an american

Culinary expert chef restaurateur television personality radio personality you may know him from his famous show uh bizarre foods with andrew zimmern i think it was on for 10 11 12 maybe 13 years i think from 2006

I want to say 2018 and he's back february 2020 with msnbc in february a show called what's eating america and another show that's going to be coming out that's currently in production it's

Called family dinner we'll air on a forthcoming magnolia network my guest today andrew zimmern andrew how are you i'm great how are you oh goodness so what do you think about all these

Restaurants going out of business uh it's a cultural catastrophe it's an economic catastrophe it's a uh one of the saddest things that i've ever seen um because like so many of the issues

That are uh turning sideways and going underwater in america right now the vast majority of it was preventable um the leadership gap uh coming out of washington dc

Uh is uh responsible for a lack of money flowing to states and forget about the different acts that are all trying to help various small businesses and i do believe in the what's now called the restaurants act

That's specifically designed to bolster the 650 000 independent restaurants uh around america by the way an industry that is second largest in america second only to

The u.s government right a trillion dollar industry that represents four percent of gdp so definitely one that is uh worth aiding but the lack of money to the to the

States and municipalities means that they can't spread money around to allow for restaurants that can't afford it to begin to reorganize both dining rooms

And most importantly kitchens back a house and take care of workers so that really any opening right now is jeopardizing uh human life um i do believe uh in the uh the 239 scientists that sent a letter

To the who that asked the body to recognize airborne transmission of covid19 uh and the difference there is that rather than just being transmitted uh through our respiratory

Systems the virus can linger in the air indoors uh infecting those nearby there's so much we don't know about this uh virus and so restaurants have been pivoting one way

Then pivoting another then pivoting another way then pivoting another rules are different everywhere um and i think this is where the role in if not during a public health emergency then

Then when does a government have a national federal government have the role to step in and help backstop uh small businesses including independent restaurants so

Yeah it's it's uh i think it's it's horrific and quite frankly if we don't see the restaurants act passed that's the one that congressman blumenauer in the house

And uh wicker and cinema in the senate have backed if we don't see that 120 billion dollar aid package go to restaurants we will see without a doubt an extinction event of

About 65 to 70 of restaurants that just won't make it that's a pretty bold statement you just made right there that's not a small statement like that no it's it's not and and it's the it's

Actually the same statement that i've made since the beginning of march um and and i'm also not alone this is um i'm not staring into a crystal ball this isn't guesswork um by their own admission

Uh restaurateurs uh statistically it they have come up with a figure of about 80 percent of restaurants not being able to reopen now since that poll came out that was a

James beard foundation poll that was quite extensive since that poll came out a lot of people have pivoted and found other resources of income and you know i bet if that poll went out

Today i think 70 65 of them would say without additional income uh or aid we're not gonna be able to uh survive so i think that number has gone up a little bit

As people have realized that there are other ways to make money with food uh but you got to remember everyone is locked into rents they're locked into their insurance packages their utilities packages

The uh perhaps payments on equipment um loans to banks and investors so they you can't continue to exist on 25 35 40 50 of income and at the same time if they if restaurants aren't really

Really cautious and this is where i i it's not that i'm talking about two sides of my mouth it's that i want my industry to survive but to do so i think it has to shut down and the

Reason is is that if we develop hot spots in restaurants and if the public has a perception because of some uh less than responsible operators uh

Ruining it for everyone which i'm seeing right now here in minneapolis i am worried that a hot spot develops and then consumer demand drops because they think restaurants in general are problematic

When in fact it's any place people are gathering is problematic you know we just yesterday had the worst uh day in terms of uh covet 19 statistics in the entire history of the pandemic

This is getting worse it's not getting better so it puzzles me why we're talking about opening businesses and opening schools um it it almost feels like a

Genocidal uh betrayal to me i mean we are americans are dying by the thousands every day in america and we have a we're we're all on a leaderless ship i'm glad you're not getting very political today

You're sticking to the business i i sense the diplomatic side of you today very impressive well it's i mean look i've got to be honest with you i mean it's it's both i don't see things through

A lens that isn't civic and you know i think civics touches everything that we do civic solutions often times are political ones and i think that's hard for folks to understand i think

People want to avoid talking about politics i think they want to avoid talking about subjects that make them uncomfortable it's one of the reasons why i made what's eating america um i wanted to

Talk about subjects that made people uncomfortable but i also wanted people to learn and be entertained while they were being made uncomfortable um yeah i i i referred to it once in a

Meeting as a roller coach a roller coaster uh you know you're scared it's going up in the middle of the whole thing you're saying i'll never do that again and you get off and someone says how was it and

You say let's go again i i think that it's important that we have these discussions now more than ever so so let me ask you this because you said a lot of different things there and

A lot of it had to do with leadership at the top which is directed towards trump and uh it's very obvious you're against businesses opening up due to cases being up

Uh uh uh your concern is if we do open up it's gonna be disastrous so you want 120 billion dollars to go into the 650 000 restaurants open that 80 of them don't shut down etc etc great fine we know your position

Here's my question for you uh 15 million people work in a restaurant business okay half of all adults at what point at one point worked at a restaurant i did obviously you're in it

One third of americans first job was at a restaurant ten percent of nation's workforce is employed at a restaurant this is not a small number he said a trillion dollars 900 billion dollars to

Uh be exact it's a very big number we're talking about my question for you becomes who takes the biggest hit say that 120 billion dollars doesn't go out forget the 120 billion dollars doesn't

Pass it's not going up andrew who takes the biggest hit customers servers owners food suppliers uh america who ends up taking the biggest hit in this industry

In this situation uh america does and and i'll tell you why and i think that owners uh owners almost last and and let me talk about that first um there are a lot of owners

In the restaurant business that have other businesses their corporate restaurants chain restaurants investment groups etc they're going to find other projects obviously the independent restaurant

Owner the you know you and i are partners i'm in the kitchen you're in the front of the house we put our life savings in that was 15 years ago we've made money we've raised kids we have a catering

Business we got we have a nice thing going we've got lots of employees and we are a stalwart in the community right because remember restaurants are the ones that are giving

Everywhere right owners like us would be hit hard and then so would the rest of america and let me explain that you cited a lot of uh really great statistics uh there that

Are super super important for people to remember restaurants are also the number one employer of returning citizens coming out of jails and institutions number one employer of single mothers

One of the top two employers of immigrants i mean the list goes on and on and on as i said before the only industry bigger than restaurants is the pen is the us government so

What does that mean well unlike airlines unlike cruise ship industries unlike banks unlike you know a lot of other businesses that hold on to vast amounts of money the restaurant industry averages

93 percent pass through essentially we keep seven cents of every dollar and of that seven cents two and a half cents of every dollar usually goes back into employee subsidy programs like uh

Paid sick leave to workers and and things like that as restaurants have begun to see the importance of this so when these restaurants go you know who goes along with it

All of those wine makers all of those clam boats all the fishermen all the people who are raising chickens and ducks that have been sold into restaurants the restaurant boom especially the

Independent restaurant boom of the last 20 years has created communities of producers suppliers the napkin vendors i mean you name it it affects it then there's the money

Going out the backside since we're the second largest employer in america collectively think of the economic drain all those people on unemployment all those people without health

Insurance right all of those people uh that are going to put a strain on different segments of our economy the if if i am not an economist but the ones that i speak to

When i start to have this conversation with them look at me and and basically tell me that we're looking at an apocalyptic event now i'm not i'm not saying that i

Believe a certain industry should go out of business willingly but i'm just going to draw a comparison if an airline went bankrupt one of 20 you know domestic carriers in here others would step into the void

Right that's not the case with restaurants right when if if they're gonna go we're gonna go in a massive number because we're all in the exact same

Economic constraints and so you're looking at something that will affect main street usa we pay so much in taxes remember cruise ships got backstopped they don't they pay like one and a half percent in

American taxes because all of them have figured out a way to to be offshore companies um we collect liquor taxes pay sales taxes we we are the backbone of tourism nobody

Goes to san francisco to get a sandwich at panera you go to san francisco to eat at the great restaurants or new york when i travel to omaha i i i'm going and i'm trying to figure out what the best restaurant is there

So the the bottom line is there's so many indus industries co-dependent and woven within it you're looking and and while you cited this trillion dollar industry

Uh number it's really multiple trillions of dollars when you add on hotels hospitality all the farm workers etc and you start to get up to about 50 million people uh that the food and hospitality system

Employs and i'm afraid of the ripple effect for a hundred and twenty billion dollars eight which i know sounds like a lot of money is a very small price to pay to avoid

The multiple trillion dollar problem that we would face if those restaurants went for you there under that was a very uh uh crystal clear on the way you explained that so

The way it's going right now with cases okay going up and the level of trust in america is right now not high if you look at the tsa stats of travel last year today we have 2.7 million

Travelers today we have what 600 000 according to tsa reports that are coming up we haven't recovered fully to the 2.7 to 2.2 million the low we hit was 87 000 back in april

Which we've come seven times that which is great news to see progress in a span of three months but here's my question for you do you think how long do you think it's gonna take until we go back to 100 percent of

Restaurants being open and us being being able to go back to friday nights go to a restaurant oh it's not at fifty percent it's at a hundred percent it's opened up how long do you think it's gonna take till we get

There three months six months four months or you don't know uh i i do know uh i can tell you almost exactly um about nine months after a vaccine that uh is effective to 85 percent of

The population okay now now that might i mean look we the great thing about capitalism is that we have a global pandemic if you and i were in any kind of medical device or pharma company right now we

Would be going all guns trying to be the first one if we had a part of our business that could help figure out a cure for this because there's money to be made at it

Right and uh i honestly think because i'm very pro-business um i honestly think that this is where capitalism serves us so well uh if we can come up with a vaccine that works 85 percent of the time my

Fear is we get one with side effects that only works 65 or 70 percent of the time not that i wouldn't take that it couldn't be improved upon uh i certainly would but if we got one

That was effective 85 of those uh vaccinated um i'm i'm guessing that it's nine months after that we go through uh a cycle of seasons in america which is

Nine months um i think that you would see consumer demand return and that's really the that's really the core issue here when does consumer demand

Match its levels than it was before right so you you mentioned travel i mean well business has to start picking up there right the vast majority of uh people who are using the airlines are business travelers right

Top ten percent of customers are responsible for like 60 of uh airline uh revenue something like that so but we're looking at business taking on a different

Shape these days i i have friends that look uh work in uh you know fortune 50 minnesota companies you know like general mills and and best buy and stuff like that uh 3m every car get well yeah cargill every

Single one of them tells me that they're never going back to work the way they did before it's all going to be flex time or time at home because these companies

Are figuring out a way to get things done via a tech that they were sort of afraid to do before you know the the virus forced everyone's hand to get real familiar with how to run a zoom

Meeting right and guess what they figured out it worked and they found out that even though everyone is working 10 slower the savings on the real estate is massive

So we'd rather have people have a better lifestyle sure work at home and we will uh we will soldier fourth with restaurants you've got this consumer demand issue that is correlated to how

Safe we feel being out in public amongst each other and that we feel the places that we're going are custodians of the public health restaurants historically for the last

Two generations have been licensed entities in other words health department has to license them there has to be a licensed health sanitarian on premise at all times you usually have two or

Three members of your staff take the health department test we we know what it takes and what it means to serve food and keep the public uh safe that way

But we have to learn a whole new system here when it comes to a respiratory and what i believe is also uh an airborne uh transmission virus like uh covid19 and i think the last thing that i would

Say to this um and it's why i i link it to nine months past a workable vaccine um just over the last five or six days and and i'm on a whole bunch of committees here

In the state of minnesota and actively engaged in talking with uh health commissioners and and so on here in our state as we're working through some of the problems and i'm on a lot of national committees

As well um we're finding as the uh pathologists are able to work on people who have passed away from c19 that uh all organs are damaged in people who've passed from

This disease it's not just fibroids in the lungs we also know that people who have recovered especially young people have recovered uh not only have permanent lung damage

But we're also looking at a neurological effect uh reports out of the uh uk with some really reliable uh studies over there are showing that there could be

Long-term uh effects on brain function associated with people who contract c19 perhaps related to length of illness you know some people get better in five weeks

Some people are sick for three or four months the point being there's so much we don't know about it and and this affects all businesses where the public gathers if you and i

Own a shoe store we're selling online eventually everyone learns to buy shoes online it's just it's eventually going to be the way it happens i think what you're talking about though is that pleasurable

Aspect where you and i are grabbing a couple friends and going out and socializing and spending a night in a restaurant i've been addicted to that feeling since i was 14 years old

If i think about it too much i'll start to cry that i got hooked as an early teen shucking oysters in a clam house in east hampton long island because the the i i watched what

You know the the tray of icy briny oysters that i set down on the counter was taken by a server to a table and you could see how happy it made people and it it flipped a switch inside me

That's never left it's probably even stronger now 45 years later that people can't enjoy that feeling is killing me i can't wait to get back to that friday night

I'm just worried that we we need we need the type of leadership that says to everyone line up behind me we're marching over that hill and we're not going to stop we're going to spend

Every dollar fight every battle until we knock this thing back and we're gonna help everybody those 350 some odd million americans here today i mean you know i i i had no favorite in the

You know in politics i haven't endorsed a candidate or anything yet but the mathematics that andrew yang was talking about where we give each american a certain amount of dollars

Now in light of the of the trillions of dollars that the government has given to corporations and all of these different uh backstopping acts passed by congress boy oh boy if we had given that out to

Actual citizens to start to make it through this disease we might have made a better choice you know that is a form of an endorsement but i'll tell you something i'm talking about

Uh uh you know the data of the pathologist talking about in europe that is showing signs and symptoms of long-term effects and you know what this could do to somebody in different areas it's kind of the

Argument of what some of the anti-vax guys say that you know the long-term effects of vaccine has autism so there's a concern written about driving the vaccine of forcing people to take you without a

Lot of testing especially all the testing that they're going through but the reason why i was asking this question from you when you said how long do you think it'll take until we will go back to normal right how long

Did it take until we go back to normal so right now you got 155 vaccines that are being tested right now going against a coronavirus 22 are in human trials right now you heard nova backs yesterday which

Is good news novabax yesterday got a 1.6 billion dollar funding from the government not yesterday three days ago and the stock went up 42 which is progress we're going in the

Right direction and you're seeing other people that are fighting to get into that conversation if you're saying nine months after a vaccine comes out so let's unpack that

The vaccine is not going to be ready for people to take probably they're saying fourth quarter but let's just say q1 i think q1 is probably more conservative and let's just say

February q1 little aggressive little conservative will go right in the middle okay a year from when we first got oh absolutely i'm with you okay you're and you originally bought

You remember we said 12 to 18 months well let's just say 12 months that's aggressive february we got it fair then you're saying nine months so that's november okay so if it's nine months november now

We're talking from today july august september october november 4th 16 months till we go back to 100 uh i'm i'm my mindset is 2022 but we're going fourth quarter of uh

Uh 2021. fair got 120 billion dollars to get to restaurants in an industry that's a 900 billion dollar trillion dollar industry per year you're going to have to do another one

90 days later another one 90 days later another one 90 days later so the the map you seem very uh one of the things i enjoy about talking to you is the fact that you've done a lot of

Research about this and by the way you sound like you should be sitting on a committee giving advice on restaurants and i'm talking i'm talking from the white house because

You know for someone like me i want to i want to learn from you how do we unpack that 120 billion dollars to not say we need to do another one 90 days later 90 days later great question um you know we

We spent a lot of time at the independent restaurant coalition a group that i co-founded back in march you know about 60 or 70 of us got together and said we need to we need to change policy in washington

We need to have a voice independent restaurants are going to be left behind and we we we banded together and we've grown ever since people can check out uh our uh

Policy statements and the restaurant act itself i'm referring to the specific act that uh congressman blumenauer introduced a couple of weeks ago we have it on our website

At saverestaurants.com we also have the math on our website at saverestaurants.com the reason that we came up with that number is that there are many restaurants out there

Corporate restaurants places that are already found a successful way to pivot that wouldn't qualify to take as much money as restaurants that have been forced to close in

Certain areas in certain cities okay that's number one so it's not all restaurants getting the same amount of money number two uh

Restaurants owned by women restaurants uh owned by people of color uh and indigenous communities get first bite at the apple because they have the least amount of access to

The money from the banks right statistically so we're giving them first by the apple we used a very complex formula but essentially it is uh a sort of

Minimum amount to keep afloat for 18 months minus your ppp minus your ppp if you took it is the amount of money that you get so that

In that restaurant that you and i own we can pay our rent we can pay our utilities we can pay our insurance so that we are ready when people come back to work to actually hire them when there are

Customers to be there if you and i happen to live in laramie wyoming where we have a successful restaurant that's much different looking than houston texas or miami florida right now

Today in july of 2020 right um so in laramie we might have customers we might have a parking lot uh that we can serve you know a hundred diners uh a night and people willing to sit

Uh socially distanced and wear masked and all the other stuff we may be able to bring grills outside and grill steaks and serve simple vegetables and have people take advantage of it in

The camaraderie of of small town usa and with a desire to socialize and be with one another um profits from those dollars would then be subtracted from that so we we have all the metrics in hand we know

How that 120 billion is gonna get spent and we need to get to that money fast before more restaurants quit one of the issues that um we've had and i'm i'm sure you've seen

It every day uh i see it a lot on social media i follow so many chefs and so many restaurants just over the years every day i see another three or four that i follow that

Have said no i just can't do this uh anymore and it it it really shocks me right but i realize that you know restaurants that i'm involved in

I own co-own or am a partner in four or five different restaurants here in the twin cities uh two have yet to open one has been doing uh takeout and delivery the other one hasn't

Uh we've opened patio on one because it has one we have an open patio on another because it doesn't have one and we're waiting to see if we can open up where we are going to open up if we're allowed to at 50

Here in minnesota because minnesota is one of those states that's sort of at even we've seen a small uptick uh in numbers uh but nothing that's taken off and our governor has shown a lot of leadership

Governor wall has really been amazing but so many restaurants are folding already that we have a substantial number of restaurants that statistical number of you know 650 000 independent restaurants

That's out there i i i have to imagine there's 7 500 000 of them that aren't even open at all and never will open as of right now so that number has gone down in terms of

Who needs the money i think what's really hurting restaurants and what we have to remember is a whole network of effects that we're also trying to deal with

Number one indoor dining in many cities could be a very long way off right because it's different everywhere and we have this airborne transmission issue quarantine orders travel restrictions

Theater closures you know movie i'm talking not talking broadway you know movie all that kind of stuff is going to further dampen restaurant spending right people aren't going to be out and about in big

Major metros where the majority of people are majority of restaurants in america uh are um the outdoor dining delivery and takeout business

Isn't a panacea for the industry we mentioned it before in a long list of things but it doesn't make up for i mean if you're a if you're a business that's only taking seven and a half percent

To the bottom line you've got to be at 100 capacity right you've got to be back at those pre-covered numbers and and look many restaurants we haven't even talked about this side

But you know it's true many restaurants were very fragile and brittle to begin with when i started out in this business i asked my godfather frank granit guy that owned a bunch of restaurants and

Got me jobs when i was 14 15 16 restaurants i wanted to learn from him and he had a three-month prudent reserve at every restaurant you know the restaurants that i'm involved in i mean

And i'm talking about really successful ones there's no three and a half month prudent reserve no one has no one has one wait wait wait let me let me get this straight so you said seven and a half percent is

That is that even even a profit that's like you yep and 75 restaurants are extremely brittle and extremely fragile and the reason the reason is this um and i'm talking

About independent restaurants you can't you know the fair wage uh sorry the uh fair trade coffee uh movement that causes big coffee boom right everyone was buying 75 cup of coffees at

The local corner store and then all of a sudden starbucks and all these coffee shops started you know and now we all drink a five dollar cup of coffee right and one of the reasons that we do is that everyone really got

Involved on the social justice side of this which was the fair trade program for beans right let's help these small communities of farmers on these fincas all over throughout the coffee growing

Region by paying a fair trade price for the beans so that these villages could actually succeed not just as a subsistence farmer but as a successful farmer so that their

Communities could have schools and a clinic and all the rest that kind of stuff right but we're lagging behind that in the food business i have a friend tracy desjardins one of

The most famous chefs in the world michelin starred restaurant jardiniere in san francisco her flagship restaurant she closed it last fall i was interviewing her on a panel i said why did you close she says well

You know we weren't making all that much money and then at three three years ago i i really felt that i wanted to take a lot of the profits that we had even though it wasn't much and put it

Into uh programs for my employees number one because i wanted to take care of them right like paid sick leave and stuff like that uh a bonus program etc she said but also

Because the economy was getting better and better and better and better unemployment was dropping dropping dropping employee retention was getting harder and harder and harder

And rent was going up right we know you know i don't have to tell you about rent issues in san francisco new york seattle where everything is through the roof employees are traveling an hour and a

Half into work to restaurants in the city and they're just saying it's killing them they're not making enough money so she decided that she was going to raise her prices and actually

Charge enough money so that it was profitable so when she opened she said her half roast chicken a really nice roast chicken by the way was like 17

Her costs had gone up over 25 years by x number of hundreds of percentage points right rent payroll insurance all the rest that 25 years she was in business so you can imagine those costs going up

But the cost of her chicken she still couldn't charge more than 24 she found that the minute she tried to go up above despite the fact that to put the chicken on the plate and all the costs and you

Know the right fare cost for that chicken was like 32 no one's gonna spend 32 for a half a chicken right you'll do it people pay a hundred

Dollars for a steak because they would this special occasion at a steakhouse but they're not gonna pay more than 24 for a chicken at jardiniere and so we have artificially deflated food uh prices all across our restaurant

System you know it's that whole dollar menu uh mentality that has artificially de brought down the cost of food we're addicted to steak in the supermarket being a certain size

And a certain color and have a certain that the muscle has to have a certain size to it and we're not going to pay more than 9.99 a pound it is it's it's causing problems in farming

It's causing problems in restaurants um and you can't make a living on outdoor dining on to go and to take out and deliver it just it just doesn't work not in the not with the

Lease that you and i have in our uh pretend restaurant and with our cost now if we close that down and we move down the street to a place that's very undesirable from

A storefront point of view but we can do all the take out and community kitchen and delivery from there because we're not seating customers then you and i have come up with a different business

Model right and that's part of the issue uh as well um restaurants have to dig themselves out of a rental i mean the figures that i saw from new york

City from roar was that in new york 73 percent of landlords did not waive rent in june and 80 of new york restaurants did not pay their full rent in june

According to the surveys that rohr did in the hospitality alliance did i mean that that's the these the kind of statistics that show you how fragile and brittle the industry is and and you have to remember the ppp aid

Was only designed to be temporary right so we need something with a little more heft uh to it uh like the restaurant stabilization bill that uh blumenhour and wicker proposed in the house and senate respectively

And we began this line of questioning by talking about who suffers hospitality employment in general is going to keep crashing but i do think as i said it's the american people who are going to be the big losers

Because main street usa those those taxes that go to keep the roads paved put books on school uh desks um people don't understand how big the collective industry is and even

Statewide like here in minnesota our collective restaurants that put a billion dollars into our state's economy um you know that number is down to 200 million

That's a huge huge uh problem for our state lawmakers in terms of meeting budgets again we're the second largest industry in america second only to the u.s government

Too big to fail too big to fail of an industry there's uh there's about one on your website it's a yellow and blue color uh we're gonna put the link below for others to go see the whole thing about

Uh what you're doing with your uh restaurants but uh you know you said a lot there 73 in new york didn't wave this is the owners didn't waive rent eighty percent didn't pay which is

A wash because whether you wave or not i don't have the money to pay you so what do you mean you're not going to waive it i don't have anything yeah yep customers coming in so you want

Me to go out of business they're not gonna get me for two years now you got an empty place sitting there's a commercial industry he's taking a massive hit huge you're explaining 50 million people

Tied to the restaurant that makes a lot of sense let me let me ask you how close are you or who is the most close person right now working to the trump administration that's showing these types of stats

Where they're sitting there saying you know this makes a lot of sense we have to save the restaurant business who is the main voice that's spearheading that message to them great question um about four or

Five weeks ago kudlow mnuchin vice president pence president trump jared kushner ivanka trump invited a group of restaurant leaders into the white house for a lengthy

Meeting i think there were 12 invited guests three of them uh were co-founding members of our independent restaurant coalition from save restaurants.com

So we actually had a seat at the table there there were several other uh restaurant industry types there people from big big giant chains all the way down to

Single operators but we got to get our message uh across and it was because of that meeting uh that we were able to not only get uh it was because of that meeting that

Representative dean phillips of minnesota and chip roy republican of texas were able to introduce the act that was the ppp fix that extended it from eight weeks to 24 weeks

Right uh and the reason that the president signed that bill uh was uh after it passed was because of that meeting he heard what he needed to hear at that meeting and turned to secretary

Mnuchin and others and said you think i should do this and they were like well this is a you know we were building a plane in in mid-air and ppp does have some issues and

You know we want to be able to extend the runway we don't have to give any more money we're just extending the runway of forgiveness and reorganizing the uh the terms of those

Forgivable loans right to have it make more sense not just for restaurants by the way but for small businesses all across america one of the problems was the length of loan the other problem was that it was

75 uh payroll 25 uh utilities rent and other costs and it went to 60 40 and from eight weeks to 24 weeks um but we had a seat at that table

And we got a chance to talk to the secretaries and to the vice president uh and for a little bit to the president about the uh restaurant stabilization act so i have i have cautious optimism but i

Still have optimism and i look i'm not going to lie to you anyone had all anyone has to do is look at my work on msnbc look at my social media feeds and and i think everybody understands that i'm

Quite left of center uh i'm not quite on karl marx's left knee but i'm sort of on his right knee while he's reading me a book that was a joke uh but i'm definitely i i am definitely

Uh left of center the uh the and and my point is is that you know at his core president trump's business advisors understand that that 120 billion dollars

That we're asking for is very small compared to what would happen if i mean just the employees on on unemployment for another six months dwarfs that number right so it's not can

We afford the 120 billion we definitely can't afford not to give out the 120 billion so are you full-on communist or would you say you're socialist right before communists because

I'm neither i was i was i was making a joke i'm i'm very socially progressive i'm i'm good oh very nice it was very small marx's communist manifesto

These uh these men are sitting here in a ball they're debating those two books so i love that i love that um i'm def i mean look i am uh i am someone who is a uh very civic-minded and political person i've

Been involved in a lot of social justice activism since my parents got me involved as a young child in the 60s um growing up in new york in a uh in a very progressive family um

And you know i believe it's my civic responsibility uh to be an active voice and probably more importantly um when my tv career took off um i felt that if you have a platform and

You don't do something good with it um you have you've left a hole in the ground that can't be filled somewhere else and um you know i i was determined to devote

25 of my time and 25 of my money uh to social justice causes that i believed in and i started doing a lot of board work and i started to get involved in a lot of national and international programs

People can go to my website andrewzemran.com and click on our resources and our partners page to see the type of groups i'm involved in but you know i'm on the board of services for the underserved in new york

Uh the irc not the independent restaurant coalition the international rescue committee that einstein founded in 1939 refugee uh do a lot of refugee work work with a lot of organizations i'm on

A lot of boards i try to work on homelessness and hunger and addiction issues and and the like and it it's really been in the last three years as i've seen the work that my parents

Undertook for a lifetime away from their businesses uh the work that so many people have done for uh on the social justice side and to

Promote equality in america for everyone and seeing that under attack definitely got me more civically involved and definitely got me more politically involved and i made a conscious choice uh

That while you know my new show family dinner on magnolia is definitely a a trickly sweet piece of entertainment um but it's about connecting with families over food something that i believe

Does have healing properties and i wanted america to see what it looked like for families to spend more time together eating because i believe that we'd be better off as a nation if we all

Spend a little more time together over a table of food but by that same token i'm also making a show called what's eating in america at msnbc which is very civic oriented which is

Very issue oriented uh which does not pull any punches and we explore everything from voter suppression to climate change to food and wellness and addiction etc well so again like i asked

You earlier to confirm it's very important it's fair to say you don't have a picture of president trump on that wall anywhere else right that that that would be that would be correct

Um i have i have pictures of joe namath uh during his most anarchy plagued years uh the new york jets when he was the owner of a famous bar in new york called bachelor's three and he's in the he signed it to me also

It's it's uh he's in the fur coat the mink coat sitting on the bench with the sunglasses the the broadway joe here with the long hair you know my heroes uh are uh

Are definitely not members of this administration very cool all good thank you for sharing that and i think it's fair to say that joe namath has probably partied harder than you and i combined

Although i don't know your background or party and i know joe's a hardcore party some lighthearted questions we covered a lot of politics we covered a lot of different business stuff i'm just curious you know for somebody

Who loves caviar what is the best kind of caviar for me to look for if you were to say let me educate you on caviar for two minutes what could you educate me on about caviar i grew up in iran i lived there for 10 years lived at a

Refugee camp in germany for two years i grew up by uh my family owned the place by bandar pahlavi back in the days which was by caspian sea and the caviar there was delicious but

I'm curious to hear your feedback and thoughts on caviar damn it jesus well the first thing is that why aren't we standing together somewhere in a kitchen socially distanced cooking together what

I would refer to generically because it's a broader geographic footprint of persian cuisine at the at the you know at the height of uh that culture's influence um

In central asia and the middle and what is now the levant in central asia um i'm not sure there's a there's a a broader and wider cuisine one of the one of the world's truly great great

Cuisines and i love persian food i don't have to educate you about a caviar i'm sure you know a lot about it i often tell people it's whatever you think tastes good let's start there

These are salted fish eggs not everyone has the flavor for it but if you do um i do try to take people away from lump fish row and other things that are sort of like pretend

Caviars but then the issue that gets raised is uh the cost and what's uh you know i'm hoping as more and it's part of the reason why i actually promote what caviar eating that

I do not to pat myself in the back or to you know uh claim some sort of elitist uh position it's just that my hope is since it's one of my favorite foods that we can invest more in aquaculture

Because every year the the more companies that get involved in this stuff the lower the price uh drops now the caviar industry is like many other food industries boomed over the last 10 years uh whether

It's farm sturgeon farms in taiwan that i visited um or ones in florida i mean i've told stories about caviar production aquaculture caviar production in six or

Seven different countries around the world over the course of the last 15 years but now they have no one to sell to because restaurants are closed um which is very very sad

I will tell you that while uh the great true malasal low salt beluga caviar etc whatever your size preference is something firm something that really pops in the mouth something that has a

Beautiful balance of salinity while for some people they automatically assume that costs a lot i did a story in oklahoma about five years ago on the oklahoma department of natural resources

And they were trying to they have a wild paddlefish population there oklahoma and missouri the only states in america where wild paddlefish exist and they can be fished you get a license

And you're allowed to pull x number of fish out of the water but the paddlefish in oklahoma actually go to go through two egg laying seasons right so a lot of these farm fishermen would open up their fish

And fillet them and paddle fish is quite delicious and uh magically they found that people were throwing away these five six pounds of roe that was inside the wild paddlefish

Well the department of natural resources guys had seen one of my older shows from 10 years ago in missouri where i was actually with fishermen fishing the paddlefish and i actually

Made homemade caviar by salting the eggs and then i took whole sets of it and much of the same way we fry other sets of egg row sliced it in pieces

Lightly floured it fried it served it with scrambled eggs and toast and butter it's delicious just fry it medium rare the same way you would shad row in the in maryland and uh or smoked cod row in ireland

And england and scotland and these oklahoma dnr guys had seen the missouri show they sent one of their own to caviar school and now they make wild paddlefish caviar from oklahoma

That is so blank and delicious 99 of the caviar in my pictures you can see me making reference to it i think you go to the oklahoma dnr uh page and make your way to it um it's very inexpensive it's really good

And all the money that from the caviar program goes to support the uh water systems in the state parks in the state of oklahoma so if you google wild

Oklahoma paddlefish caviar it'll probably take you right to uh the website where you can order it wild oklahoma paddlefish caviar caviar i'm gonna look it up and

I'm going to order it and i've i've sent it to i mean they're chefs i've i've been i i have no financial stake in this there's no this is not a sponsored thing at all i just happen to love this

Story so much and all the money goes to help the the streams and rivers and forests in oklahoma and so one of the amazing things i've turned all my chef friends onto it in

Blind tastings and they'll go wow that's pretty good i mean it's it's i i can tell this you know we're not talking about you know primo but we're talking about something that's a rock solid b

Plus then i tell them what it is then i tell them the price and they lose their minds there's more restaurants now buying and selling this stuff because i've just been bringing it to food festivals doing it

At dinners and all the rest of it uh it's very inexpensive as in uh single digit hundreds of dollars for a kilo wow and it's delicious the article here april 12

2016 how oklahoma cornered the market in caviar national geographic there you go yes i'm gonna look that up so that's good to know now here's the other thing i've eaten at a lot of different

Restaurants worldwide i'm a foodie myself i love great food you know whether it's from a hole-in-the-wall sushi spot where the chef the owner makes it and you can trust his work

To a high-end restaurants and monica louis the 15th or a nice restaurant hole in the wall la vitrola and cartagena colombia to all these other places you've been all over the world

By the way i know i know both i've dined in both of those last two restaurants in monte carlo i went there when alandu cass was a young chef and arguably the best chef in the world and he had just

Gotten three stars for two different restaurants i was a young cook this was in the 80s i was stashing in a restaurant in paris that alas cinderella was the chef at

Called larc estrada alas cinderella's first michelin 3 star and a whole bunch of us drove down and for three days we showed up at 5 30 or 6 o'clock when they opened to see if there was a table in our

Crappy blazers you know and i mean you know young grubby cooks and it changed my life that meal i i had never seen and it was the first time and now it's

Now it happens more frequently i can name up 25 restaurants in america to do it but at the time in 1982 83 84 i had never seen butter churned

In a kitchen and the bread baked in the kitchen both according to the reservation chart they were churning butter multiple times a day so the butter was never refrigerated at the louis cass

In monte carlo the build-up under the cap of the churning machine was actually whipped way from the separation right they would take that way and they would constantly

Every hour scrape off a few tablespoons and that's what they would use to delicately saute use it like a cuisine just to glaze root vegetables for one of the lamb dishes

When you think of the lengths that restaurant was going to just with that simplest of ingredients butter you get and bread you get an idea of what i had

Never had an experience like that and it changed my food life uh forever you know it's crazy you said that you said you you went there when the when the the the chef who went

I read his article that he went at 28 years old from a one star to two star to a three star in three years and he was like the legendary one uh worldwide that everybody and by the way they still do

The butter it's in display you see the show when they're doing it when you go into the place oh do they do they do that now because before it was hidden away in the kitchen in the middle it's

Really what you were telling me i was watching and i'm like what are they doing over there and then they come and they tell you about it so you eloquently explain that but out of all the places you've been

Out of all the places you've been what's your number one where you say if money is not an issue if i want to take my friends if i want to go to a place and sit down and join with my number one

Is dot dot dot what is that place for you oh my gosh um that's a very difficult question to answer and i would answer it differently today than i did a couple years ago

A couple years ago i might have said something like you know let's go and do the vegetarian tasting menu at arpeggio in paris let's go to one of the three star michelin

Uh restaurants in tokyo right let let's go and really celebrate in the in the private room at you know uh a linea and tell them to really put on the feed bag for us right i mean just

To have that over the top experience i love that kind of dining i truly do because i love seeing what a chef can do that kind of chef at the peak of his powers with ingredients the

Transformational things that they do with food the the techniques that are going to be used 30 years later once it trickles down to you know home cooking but i think what's most what's notable

And powerful for me are the places where i can share more food with more people on the island of palawan in the philippines there's a a bunch of floating restaurants you you

Some are at the end of a dock they've built a rickety dock half mile out into the water there's i i wrote about one in in my first book you know a place where i can go where the fishermen come in and they

They they lift the fish and the shellfish and the mollusks up into the center of the restaurant through a big hole cut in the middle of it the restaurant is on stilts in the water

Where you can watch the sun go down where you're sitting on the water where the bananas for frozen banana drinks are cut from a giant ripe banana plant that was tree ripened that's sitting by the bar

Where the limes are grown in the backyard of someone's house and picked and brought in where everything is so fresh and so simple and it's really a matter of whether you want your

Fish or shellfish you know grilled raw or sauteed that's the only way we do it pick your poison those the kind of places that really thrill me the most it has as much to do with location and simplicity of food um as it does

Uh with the quality of what's being cooked because i think the quality now means something different to me um i've seen all the pyrotechnics i've seen all the fancy stuff um you know you talked about cartagena

In medellin there's uh a poll carbon you know charcoal roasted chicken is what's eaten every street has a different pile carbon place but there are a couple that do it

A lot better than the others right you know give me a good plug carbon place and a lot of really cold frosty root beer and 30 of my closest friends and let us

Just sit there for hours and get messy with our fingers eating poyo carbone going out into the street and buying a sugar cane juice with lime and mint crushed with it

I'm happy as a clam there last night i shooting an episode of family dinner i i was eating with the nigerian family and uh they they did a version of burning meat on skewers something that all over africa you go into

Neighborhoods and it's just people build a fire throw a grill on top of it and you can actually pick your cut typically the animal is there being butchered on the back table and you can point and say i want a little

Shoulder i want a little luxury cut because everything costs a different price right they they know the luxury cuts are more expensive than cuts from the the leg or the tendon or the neck or the

Cheek um and you know you sit there and you order it same thing in the you know jamal fana in marrakech you know in the sukk there where with lamb it's the same you order

The meshui and they pull a little bit from different parts of the animal and they put it on a piece of newspaper and they spill a little bit of cumin chili and salt mixture on the plate for you to season your own lamb

With and you eat it with your fingers if you want bread they send a kid around the corner to the bread place and he comes back with that and some hot or cold mint tea i'd rather eat in a

Place like that almost if if you said andrew lets you and i go to one place for dinner tonight anywhere in the world it might be to some of the markets that i've been to

In small villages jungle markets in the vietnamese countryside where spring rolls and grilled fish and shrimp salads and just just the food that you just you want to just keep eating for the rest of your life

You pinch yourself it's so good as being made fresh i remember being in uh isaan thailand up in the north on the uh laotian border just about 30 miles from vientiane but about five

Eight miles in from the laotian border and i was on a farm and they told me that they were gonna make uh a shrimp salad a drunken shrimp salad for dinner and i knew that you know you take the

Small shrimp and they're live and you drown them in rice wine and then you mix it with toasted rice powder and chili and ginger and garlic and fish sauce and sugar and mint and cilantro and crushed peanuts

And tomatoes uh and you have this just fantastic shrimp salad it's one of my favorite dishes uh in the vietnamese vietnamese culinary cannon and grandma went down to the river with

Her net and started taking these freshwater shrimp out of the out of the river i don't think i'd eaten anything that good you know i would put that dish up against anything that i've eaten

Anywhere on planet earth right um food is not just about the expense you know that's why the caviar conversation used to make me uncomfortable um and i have it freely with people

Where i have the opportunity to explain it because the fact of the matter is is that the food that i find is the most precious is the stuff that's only available on what i call the last

Stop on the subway the further away you have to go to get it the more valuable it is a year ago if you and i want to have a great meal in new york right i mean between the two of us we can call

Up friends we can get into any restaurant we want as a deuce right we'll eat at the bar we'll have an amazing meal the chef will throw all kinds of free stuff at it the bartender will keep us happy

And we're gonna have a good time you and i any restaurant but what we can't do is be out in a village in botswana with a big fat yellow african moon

Rising up over the aha hills while a goat is slowly roasting over the fire while people are playing the same music that their ancestors played for 40 000 years we can't how do we we can't buy that

That's the precious experience that i got to have for 14 years on the road making bizarre foods and other shows um that i miss that was an amazing era in my life to be able to have all those experiences and know what that feels

Like and by the way have that same meal but have it be moose with the athabascan tribe while it's 30 degrees below zero in front of a bonfire while they're white they're spearing

White fish on the very last night of the season before the river freezes for good i mean that's that's the that's where i'd want to take you and my friends

Is to eat that because the look on your face at the fancy restaurant in paris would be holy crap this is amazing i take you up to at the baskin country and you're

Like you're in so much clothing you can't move and someone puts boiled white fish right out of the river in your face by the way that you speared and risked your life because if you fall in the water you're dead

It's so cold they can't get you to the fire fast enough they lose a couple of people every season usually elderly folks who've been drinking too much you

Really will enjoy that white fish because the environment in which we're consuming it together is conducive to a real human connection that i don't think you necessarily get

In a fancy restaurant let me tell you uh uh you know i wonder how you talk dirty to the ladies because your last seven minutes of whatever you do with food i am so hungry right now

I can't wait to go eat at any of those places but it's crazy you're saying this because it took me back to uh a time i went to guatemala back in 2005 and we were driving in guatemala guatemala is not known as a

Rich place and then you go to this place and it's called it's amazing and they say well this is a place where european people live i'm like european people live in guatemala we have puerto varios

And we went to this place hole in a while you ate but they brought the lobster they brought the food from the best dish i ever had look i've really enjoyed the conversation with you and it's interesting to hear a story of

Somebody who had 14 years old gets inspired by oysters and a man who's born on 4th of july who likes capitalism because improves the restaurant business what would your final thoughts be to

Small business owners who own restaurants and folks who are in restaurant business right now who are little ward if you have final words final thoughts for them what would you say to them

Um food people despite the gloom and doom that i talked about before i do believe there's going to be a stabilization act passed but more importantly the most creative the most

Free thinking the most giving sharing coolest people in the world are food people uh with apologies for everyone else out there i've been around food people my whole

Life they have the biggest hearts they're the they they have pivoted three or four times already since february i think i think the the the higher power that i believe in puts the large burdens on the shoulders of

People that can handle it and while this has been a horrific moment for restaurants it's also been a very freeing one our industry was very brittle and fragile and it was also had a lot of inequity in

It uh i mean people forget three years ago the the metoo movement that you know rampaged through our industry um the the fact that we've mistreated you know

People of color working in our kitchens and depressed prices and not paid a fair wage and not been able to offer benefits to these workers

And and dignified the back of the house side of the profession from the dishwasher to the porter to the prep cook right we've we've deified the chef right we've professionalized the server

And the mixologist we don't even call them bartenders anymore but we have an opportunity now i would have liked to have take our house apart brick by brick before we rebuilt it instead someone

Burnt it to the ground covered 19 burnt it to the ground we would be stupid to rebuild it in the same format that we did before i think there are people restaurateurs

Food people all over this country figuring out a better smarter way i think we will come out of this we will look back 20 years from now on a 10-year period post coveted 19 that we will call the

Golden age of restaurants because we will have figured out a way both to honor the food the farmer the planter the picker the cook we will be able to honor every single person

Equitably along that whole food chain and i think we're going to be better off for it as a society and i think food people will drive that decision-making i mean one creative idea that you've

Seen in the last few months in the restaurant business that other restaurant businesses can implement one creative idea uh gather your best purveyors and package their goods

In a food box that goes to families now some people have done it based around uh there's a local restaurant here called grand cafe which sold you four meals for four people for x number of dollars with everything

Labeled and all the rest of that uh for folks that wanted to cook a little more adventurous adventurously at home other people like dan barber up at blue hill at stone barns has just accumulated

Cheese from his cheese people meat from his meat people seafood from a seafood people charcuterie from his charcuterie people you know tomatoes from his tomato people and put them in a big box and said every

Week here and get this box for x number of hundreds of dollars you don't have to go to the supermarket we're putting in a little bit of everything for you i think that's an area beyond takeout

And delivery that is really really really important a lot of people in america not all but a lot would like to be eating cleaner healthier food less of it higher quality and i think

Restaurants can provide that for their uh neighbors and communities andrew thank you so much for being a guest folks we're going to put the link below of uh what he's spearheading right now to go

Visit and if you support it he can support it as well appreciate you for being a guest on valley team and i really enjoyed the time with you i loved having a real conversation with somebody who

Asked really provocative questions and loves my subject matter as much as i do and for anyone interested we have a lot of information at andrew zimmern.com not only uh issues of the day and resources

But incredible uh charities to support as well as thousands and thousands of videos and recipes and all that kind of stuff it's a fun award-winning website i'm really proud of the people

Here in my group that put it together so please go visit andrew zimmern.com we'll put both the links below andrew again thank you so much for your time i enjoyed it i appreciate it thank you my friend i

Got to tell you i went into this interview thinking we're going to go into the restaurant direction he went purely politics right off the bat and was incredible i mean i learned a lot and i enjoyed this interview

To know what the restaurant industry is really experiencing the 50 million people that are somehow someway directly connected to the restaurant business was mind-boggling and if you enjoyed this interview i think you would also enjoy

Sit down and i had with chad solomon who's a cattle rancher and he broke down the effects of what's happening to the meat industry from it from a perspective that you and if we're not in that industry we don't

Understand it got one and a half million views in the first week because people really wanted to know where is the meat made out of and is it important should we know where the

Meat is made out of so if you've not watched it go ahead and click over here to watch that interview a very very interesting interview and if you've not subscribed to the channel please do so thanks for watching

Everybody take care bye

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