Northern Michigan businesses call for metrics and a timeline
NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance called for a comprehensive plan to reopen bars and restaurants after Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a February 1, 2021, reopening at 25 percent capacity. The organization represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from all across northern Michigan.
Leaders within the organization are relieved to see restrictions on bars and restaurants loosening but say there is a need for a reopening pathway. “We’re thankful to see we are moving towards reopening our bars and restaurants, and now we need a plan with clear metrics for a phased reopening,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our bars and restaurants cannot continue to operate with this uncertainty, and we need to know what reopening looks like after the next order expires on February 21.”
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association released research conducted in November, which indicated that 5,600 – or 33 percent – of Michigan restaurant operators say it is unlikely they will still be in business in six months. Business owners say a 25 percent capacity limit starting February 1 doesn’t allow them to cover the cost of being in business. “Twenty-five percent capacity does not give us an opportunity to cover our operating costs. We have had months of experience in maintaining COVID-19 safety measures at half capacity,” said Todd Chinnock, General Manager & Sommelier at Pour Kitchen & Bar and General Manager at Tap 30 in Petoskey.
“Our northern Michigan bars and restaurants have proven time and time again that they know how to keep employees and patrons safe,” said Sarah Hagen, the vice-chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time to provide this industry with a timeline to fully reopen.”
“We safely operated at half capacity for four months during our busy times this past summer. We worked safely, set up protocols, followed CDC guidelines, and invested significant funds into sanitation equipment. Our entire team was on board with keeping themselves and our guests safe,” said Owner/Chef Darren Romano of Charlevoix’s Grey Gables Inn Restaurant & Catering.
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance continues to support chambers, economic development organizations, and their member businesses by providing timely information and advocating for rural business needs primarily at the state level. The Alliance is engaged in delivering industry-specific information, access to funding opportunities, and ensuring the northern Michigan voice is represented in reopening discussions. More information on the Alliance’s latest work can be found at nmichiganbusiness.com.
About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.