Founding Partner and President, Morph Hospitality Group
One of the most painful decisions I’ve had to make during my career as a restaurateur was to lay off 250 people when the pandemic started in spring 2020. It was a huge blow personally but a necessary action because of the sudden closure of dining rooms. Still, I understood the need to build relationships and help others in the industry, so I founded Hospitality Strong, a nonprofit organization benefiting hospitality workers displaced by the pandemic.
Hospitality Strong ended up being an example of how our industry does not stand alone. The pandemic has only reinforced the notion that to thrive we must work together. The industry may be bouncing back, but many challenges remain that foodservice equipment and supplies dealers can help us solve. Even as dining rooms have reopened, it’s proven tough to lure back staff and restaurants now employ nearly 1 million people fewer than before the pandemic. On the other end, supply chain problems make it difficult to plan and secure items when they are needed. Everything from aluminum cans for our brewery to plates for our dining rooms is on constant backorder. Lead times were never a problem a year-and-a-half ago but now they are part of our daily reality.
These persistent problems impact our recovery but the one good thing the pandemic taught us is to be open to any solution and willing to pivot at a moment’s notice. Dealers that come to me with equipment and technologies that alleviate stress in the back of the house receive a warm welcome. I constantly struggle with not knowing much about the new equipment out there, so I’m relying on the experts I work with to disseminate those solutions. I want to have that information at my fingertips and I want to hear about options like lease-to-own that can make the investment easier by spreading it out over time.
I love this industry because no two days are the same. It’s perpetually changing and every shift is an opportunity to discover something new to learn. That’s what’s happening now. We’re forced to look outside our learned thought processes to see the possibilities ahead.
Resisting that shift will not get us where we need to go. When everything started shutting down in 2020, I realized being frustrated about the things I could not control would not help my business overcome them. With a Zen-like outlook, I learned not to sweat the unavoidable and find a way to change. Running a restaurant became a constant conversation about how we can make ourselves stronger and better. And we are strongest when we are together.