Stories / Impact

Restaurants Need Help to Survive the Winter

Our latest survey looked at the potential impact of winter weather

Ashley Kosiak

December 09, 2021


Image of person taking an order through a walk up window; both individuals are masked
Photo: Clay Williams

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Beard Foundation has been polling chefs and restaurant owners about the impacts on the food and beverage industry. For two weeks in November and December of 2021, the James Beard Foundation polled its network of chefs and restaurant owners on the health of their business, and if they thought their business would be able to survive the winter. Many of those who reported higher operational costs and lower revenue cited supply chain disruptions as a major contributor to their business challenges. Respondents to this survey represented businesses from 42 of 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Note: This survey was largely conducted before the announcement of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.)

The findings show that while many restaurants are more confident in their business’s survivability than they were in 2020, independent restaurants across the country are still at risk of closing. Of respondents, 50-percent reported no confidence to moderate confidence that their business would survive the winter. The top three challenges restaurants reported facing are: 

  1. Staffing (78 percent)
  2. Higher operational cost (77 percent) 
  3. Lower revenue (58 percent) 

Sixty percent of respondents cited state and federal grants, loans, and other relief programs—such as a replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Program, the Paycheck Protection Program, and EIDL grants and loans—would help them meet these challenges. 

As a diner, what can you do to help? 

  • Continue to support independent restaurants through dining, takeout, delivery, and gift cards. 
  • If you make a reservation, honor your reservation, or call if you absolutely must cancel. Reservation no-shows can significantly impact a restaurant’s bottom line. 
  • Be patient and tip appropriately—many restaurants are suffering from temporary service issues due to nationwide staffing shortages.  
  • Looking to gift from an independent restaurant this holiday season? Check out the James Beard Foundation’s Holiday Gift Guide. 

Learn more about the James Beard Foundation's efforts to help keep restaurants Open for Good.