ALLIANCE SUPPORTS CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE BAR & RESTAURANT REINTEGRATION PLAN

Businesses deserve more clarity

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance voiced their support for a comprehensive reopening strategy for bars and restaurants. Today, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) released a two-pronged, metric-driven roadmap to eventually restore normal operations within the hospitality industry. The proposed plan authored by the MRLA aspires to provide a clear, metric-driven solution for elected officials that will enable hotel and restaurant operators to remain in business, restore jobs, and “return to a more Pure Michigan.”

“We support the call for a comprehensive reopening strategy for bars and restaurants including metrics such as the COVID percent positive rate,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “If the state sets clear and accountable benchmarks for reopening, our communities and patrons will take an active and accountable role in our continued reopening efforts.”

The Alliance is willing to safely meet with any leader who wants to formulate a plan for reopening so our bars and restaurants can anticipate what happens next,” 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 and metrics to fully reopen.”

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.

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ALLIANCE CELEBRATES RESTAURANT REOPENING

Continues call for a pathway to full reopening

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance continued their call on leaders to provide business owners with clarity by releasing a comprehensive plan to fully reopen bars and restaurants. Today, February 1, 2021, is the first day in 75 days that bars and restaurants are open for indoor dining, which is limited to 25 percent capacity. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from all across northern Michigan. 

“We’ve been waiting for this day, and we’re relieved to be reopening, but we owe clarity to our bars and restaurants on what will happen after February 21 when this current order expires,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our bars and restaurants can’t keep operating three weeks at a time; this isn’t sustainable, and our job providers deserve more certainty.”

Michigan has lost nearly 3,000 restaurants since the onset of the pandemic, and the Alliance fears this trend will continue if a pathway to reopening isn’t outlined soon. The absence of a plan to fully reopen bars and restaurants has also complicated the hospitality industry’s operations.

“The uncertainty of these shutdowns has put pressure on all aspects of our operations. We weren’t able to keep all of our staff offering only takeout and lost good employees to other sectors. Now we will have to work on rebuilding our staff with this continued unpredictability,” said John McGee, co-owner of McGee’s, Harrington’s by the Bay, and Sorellina in the Grand Traverse region.

“We’re not reopening today, in part because we are concerned about restocking our restaurant only to close again,” said Connie Freiberg, chef/owner at Blue Fish Kitchen + Bar in Manistee.

The Alliance continues to offer its partnership to leaders across the state in crafting a comprehensive plan for a full reopening for bars and restaurants. The coalition is willing to safely meet with any leader who wants to formulate a real plan for reopening. The Alliance also urges northern Michigan to support their bars and restaurants in whatever way they feel comfortable.

“The restaurant community wants our customers and community to know that our industry is accustomed to strict health and safety protocol; COVID just adds a layer on top of our already comprehensive measures. We want our diners to know we are committed to their health and safety,” said John McGee.

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.

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ALLIANCE CALLS FOR PATHWAY TO REOPENING

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.

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