One forecast that went well for the hospitality industry in 2020 was the abundance of beautiful weather this spring and summer. Warmer weather encouraged outings and increased opportunities to serve guests outside in a socially distant, responsible manner. Unfortunately, the days are getting shorter, and crisp fall air will soon replace the refreshing summer breezes. This change in weather will dictate a pivot to adapt business models to operate under reduced capacities and create an unpredictable future. In order to counteract this as effectively as possible, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) launched a new campaign entitled “Don’t Leave Michigan’s Hospitality Industry Out in the Cold”. The campaign proposals include:
Two of the proposals have already found success with Pure Michigan funding being reinstated at $15 million and Executive Order 2020-183 which allowed for the expansion of indoor banquet and meeting space to twenty people per 1,000 sq. ft. in regions 1-5 and 7, and twenty-five people per 1,000 sq. ft. in regions 6 and 8, not to exceed five hundred.
The response to this campaign has been vigorous from both the media and legislative leaders, who continue to be strong advocates and who understand that the restoration for this industry is only just beginning. Additionally, the governor’s office initiated valuable dialog with the MRLA regarding recovery and, specifically, counteracting the loss of outdoor seating. The MRLA would like to thank Speaker Lee Chatfield, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and the legislature as a whole for their response to this campaign and their assistance thus far. For some businesses, their actions have allowed them to keep their doors open. We would also like to thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her executive team for their continued willingness to hear the stories regarding COVID-19’s impact on the hospitality industry.
These past two seasons have been ‘one for the books’ and will always be remembered. Different regions of the state had different challenges and continue to face them. But one challenge we face as a state is “winter is coming.” Sadly, I don’t mean it metaphorically. Snow, sooner than we want, will fall from the sky and force dining indoors or on winterized patios. The purpose of this campaign is to allow our industry to operate as normally as possible during these winter months and survive until spring. Like all of you, the MRLA is reassessing every week what we can do to make an impact, not just stopping the hemorrhaging of the hospitality industry but help it to grow again.