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Pandemic Pushes Restaurants To The Brink

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Like other restaurateurs, Matt Hinckley of Hinckley Fancy Meats has switched to takeout and delivery only. And he's offering free PB & J to anyone during the pandemic, no questions asked. Photo credit: Matt Hinckley

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Restaurants are struggling to stay afloat with their dining rooms shuttered and takeout service only. We talk to Orlando Sentinel multimedia food reporter Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Weekly restaurant critic Faiyaz Kara, and chef and owner of Hinckley Fancy Meats, Matt Hinckley, about the food economy in the era of coronavirus.

“I think the predicament that everyone is in is sort of having to reinvent their business to more of a grocery delivery model or a takeout model,” says Hinckley.

“So we’ve all sort of reinvented to meet the demand of people staying at home and figuring out how we can get our products to them so they don’t have to leave the house.”

Amy Drew Thompson has compiled a running list of restaurants open for takeout during the pandemic. She says a lot of restaurants have had to get creative.

“Restaurants are now doing to-go cocktails and they’re doing family meals and things that could maybe get heated up or finished in the oven. I think they’re throwing everything to the wall and seeing what sticks.”

Faiyaz Kara writes in the Orlando Weekly about how to help local restaurants .

“I think a big concern is the fact that winter and spring are heavy months for restaurants and we typically see a dip as the summer rolls around,” says Kara.

“So these are supposed to be the money making months and instead, all these restaurants are taking hits and you know, assuming we’ll be somewhat out of the woods by the summer, again, that’s the low season and the fear is that many restaurants won’t be able to survive.”

Kara says restaurants in the Orlando area are having to lay off or furlough staff, and he says an industry bailout is needed.

“They all need financial help and assistance, not just from all the levels of government, but from insurance companies as well- specifically, business disruption insurance, that, you know, many policies don’t typically cover.”

Hinckley says the people he’s relying on to keep his business afloat are his customers.

“I think that ultimately the people that are going to bail us out are the people that are in line in our shops every day,” he says.

“I have more faith in sending out deliveries to names I recognize every week than I have faith in any other sort of stipend coming from from a federal level or even a state level.”

Drew says people can also dine strategically to support their local restaurants and keep them in business.

“Avoid where you can those third party delivery apps which will take what the restaurant is going to make.  Buy merch, if you’re full and your fridge is full: buy a T shirt, buy a hat. And just stay on top of who’s open and spread it around if you have it to spread around.”





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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »