Chair of the Board Letter to Membership: A New Reality
Needless to say, when I began my term as Chairman of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) in January, I never dreamed that two short months later we’d be dealing with a global pandemic. This situation certainly reminds us how fragile our lives are, and how quickly things can change. I hope each of you, your families, and team members are healthy and safe – as ultimately that is most important.
This unparalleled crisis has upended the hospitality industry and will likely be the biggest challenge most of us will face in our careers. Many restaurants have been forced to close temporarily. Unfortunately, some have closed permanently, and others have adjusted to facilitate a delivery and carry-out model. Hotels and conference centers are shuttered, housing only essential guests. My thoughts are with you, however your business is impacted.
Although our industry is in a dire situation, and many of us are fighting for the survival of our businesses, I am inspired every single day by the generosity coming from the hospitality industry. Daily, there are multiple stories featuring restaurants donating food to health care professionals or people in need, hotels opening up as housing opportunities for those unable to return safely to their homes, and even some large conference centers reimagining their space as temporary hospitals. This is the raw, unfiltered character and heart of our industry at its best.
From the moment we realized this crisis would have a significant impact on our industry, the MRLA began reaching out to legislators in Lansing and Washington DC to ensure our issues and challenges were communicated. We lobbied for stimulus and small business support from the government. The MRLA staff organized webinars and quickly communicated important information to our members, as issues were changing, often by the hour. A relief fund was established for Michigan’s restaurant workers, providing financial grants for essential needs, such as housing. I am so incredibly proud of what our Association has accomplished in a short amount of time.
As our nation begins to recover from this pandemic, the MRLA will not stop fighting for our industry. You can rely on the MRLA to have a seat at the table as new protocols are developed allowing the reopening of restaurants and hotels, and as additional stimulus packages are negotiated. While the future remains unwritten, we will work together to get through this and be stronger and more resilient on the other side.
Take care and stay healthy.