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Operations and Washington DC

We are all watching and many are participating as protests continue in DC, across our country, and in cities worldwide over the tragic death of George Floyd and systemic racism and inequity in this country. As some protests continue to result in destruction of property, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that tonight (6/3) curfew will begin at 11pm and remain in place through 6am tomorrow morning (6/4). The Mayor noted that the curfew will be revisited daily as needed with consideration for public safety, so be mindful this may impact weekend operations. The city urges everyone to close down...
March 25, 2020 - The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has had an immediate impact on businesses and more repercussions are to come, particularly for restaurants, hotels, food distributors, retailers, and other vendors that service the hospitality industry. Below are some potential solutions that can assist hospitality owners with cashflow in the coming months. Defer Tax Payments Both the federal and state governments have issued guidance regarding extended due dates for paying certain taxes, which could help business owners temporarily preserve some of their cashflow. Below is summary of the...
March 19, 2020 - As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread, restaurants are being restricted to carryout and delivery service, while many others are closing their businesses entirely during this period. As a result, much of restaurants’ food inventory may spoil and end up getting trashed. Restaurant owners should strongly consider donating their food inventory to a charitable organization, as this will not only help many people in a time of need, but will result in a special and advantageous treatment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to Internal Revenue...
Hearts are heavy this morning. We know so many of you as an industry and as individuals are speaking up and taking action against injustice in your own ways and are working hard to be leaders for what is right.  We are here standing in solidarity with all of you who stand for much needed systemic change. All of us who live and work in this region celebrate the fact that DC is a place where people gather, sometimes by the hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to stand up for what they believe in, march, peacefully demonstrate, and work hard to have their voices heard time and...
Sunday night in the District protests continued and several business areas were vandalized.  The City urges that businesses and individuals should be prepared to take precautionary measures today and tomorrow, and potentially as the week stretches on.  The protests have taken on many forms, and although over 90% has been peaceful protesting, there are additional layers creating unrest in the evening hours.  We encourage you to stay safe and take the necessary precautions to protect your businesses and employees.  Today, June 1st, Mayor Bowser announced that DC will be...
Today, Friday, May 29th, marks the first stage of reopening across the region.  We want to make sure you are armed with all the information you need so we can safely enter this next phase together.  As promised, below is more information about how you can register for the use of public and private space for outdoor dining.  In DC, you can register for public and private space outdoor patios by clicking here. In Virginia, you can register for a temporary permit for the use of private space, or learn more about use of public and private outdoor spaces in these jurisdictions...
As you consider reopening and are making plans to get your restaurant ready, it is important to ensure you know the proper protocol if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Our local Mayor and Governors have all warned that as the region begins to reopen, cases will rise, so you need to know the immediate steps to take.  Steps to Take if an Employee Tests Positive:  Step One: Call your local Department of Health and report the case. They can also provide specific guidance for your restaurant on how to handle operations and disinfecting. DC DOH, VDH, MDH. Step Two:...
As Friday’s planned reopening in Northern Virginia and the District is upon us, we are sharing quick updates, reminders, and resources as you make your plans.  DC - Stage 1 Reopening - Friday May 29 Today, Mayor Bowser released the official order permitting reopening of the District under Stage 1 guidelines on Friday, May 29th. Click here for the Order.  Click here for the NEW Stage 1 Restaurant Guidance. As we expected, the Stage 1 Order includes that taverns, nightclubs and mixed-use facilities that serve food, and that are already approved to provide such outdoor service...
Dear Operator,  Heading into this week I know you all have your heads in reopening as most of the Metro Area moves into phase/stage one at the end of the week or early next week.  That transition is equal parts a welcome relief and a new and difficult challenge for those who are choosing to utilize available outdoor space.  On Friday, we tackled many of your issues on DC’s reopening and shared resources and tools (see here) as you plan for these upcoming transitions.  Today, Mayor Bowser gave a situational update and indicated that reopening in Stage 1 is still...
Dear Operator,  We all know that there was no handbook for Coronavirus, no roadmap for dealing with the wreckage it has caused, and we have all been reinventing the wheel every week for 10 weeks now to innovate, create, manage, and provide support for one another.  Reopening is and will be just as challenging as closing or modifying was in March.  I know many of you are concerned about areas of the restaurant portion of DC’s reopening plan, as was expected. It’s important to stress here that the guidance that was shared by Mayor Bowser on Thursday is merely that,...
Dear Operator,  On Thursday 5/21 in DC, Mayor Bowser shared the official reopening recommendations from the ReOpen DC Committee that outlines what the stages/phases of reopening will look like, and stated that barring any spikes DC could begin a phased reopening on Friday, May 29th. We continue to meet outlined markers and are 11-days into a 14-day decline that is required before entering Stage One.  Stage One will look similar to how you are currently operating with outdoor on-premise dining permitted with physical distancing and safeguards. Safeguards are defined as: physical...
Good Afternoon Operator,  We have received some additional PPP guidance from the SBA which released its first public version of the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. Click here for the application and instructions. REMINDER: Today is the deadline for you to return PPP funds, if you decided PPP is not right for you. The application provides us with much clearer guidance on what supporting documents to gather as well as draft calculation forms to show the forgiveness calculations.   The PPP Loan Forgiveness Application was not expected to codify major changes to the PPP...
Dear DC Operator,  As we head into the weekend, I wanted to remind you of specific relief that was passed and signed into law by Mayor Bowser earlier this week.  This is relief that your restaurant or operation can take advantage of RIGHT NOW.  Below is a breakdown of what is in effect with applicable amendments made by ABRA.   Cap on Third-Party Delivery Fees: Commissions payable to third-party delivery companies are limited to 15% during Mayor’s Public Health Emergency, which is currently set to expire on June 8th. We are working to extend this beyond the...
Dear Operator,  Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Sixty-Two, ordering specific localities in Northern Virginia to delay entering Phase One of reopening until May 28th. Executive Order Sixty-Two requires the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) to remain in Phase Zero, as requested by officials in those localities, which mean businesses must continue with current status of...
FDA is providing a food safety re-opening checklist for previously closed retail food establishments or those that have been open with limited service related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This checklist addresses key food safety practices for retail food establishments to consider when re-opening and restarting operations. This is not a comprehensive list. We encourage retail food establishments to partner with local regulatory/health authorities to discuss the specific requirements for their retail food establishment prior to re-opening. Facility Operations Are signs posted on how to stop...
Dear Operator,  I hope you had a nice Mother’s Day weekend and were able to take time to pause and recognize the important people in your life. Reopening discussions are going strong across the region, and today we have more clarity about what is happening in Northern Virginia and updates for DC.  In Virginia, Governor Northam said in a press conference today that while reopening plans are moving forward for most of the state to enter Phase 1 this Friday, May 15th, Northern Virginia will likely delay reopening.  This is based on conversations the Governor had directly...
Dear Operator,  I hope you made it through the week feeling positive as progress on reopening is on the horizon and we gain more clarity each day on next steps. Many of you have asked for more information on protocol regarding employee and customer exposure to COVID-19. We are in touch daily with the DC Department of Health and are awaiting and expecting industry-specific guidance that they are developing this weekend to provide operators with critical information as we enter reopening in the future.  We are hoping to send the step-by-step guidance no later than close of business...
Dear Operator,  We want to touch base and share some quick updates and clarifications with you based on regional news and questions we have received from you.  Follow up on DC Emergency Legislation  As you know, the Council passed Emergency Legislation on Tuesday to provide additional protections for the small business community. The legislation has not yet been signed into law, however we expect it will be signed very soon. Once the law is signed it goes into effect with the expectation that third party delivery companies are complying with the mandated cap.  Once it...
Dear Operator,  On May 5th, the DC Council passed emergency legislation that provides additional relief for our industry. We have been working closely with the Council to help ensure the continued support of the unique needs of our industry happen. Yesterday, I shared a breakdown of what we thought would be included in the bill, and below is a breakdown of what passed today.  What was passed is similar to what we previously shared with a big exception on Business Interruption Insurance. Unfortunately, the Council did not include extending Business Interruption Insurance to cover...
Dear Operator,  I hope you found a few moments of sunshine this weekend as we are entering yet another busy week, as Governor Northam is likely to address Virginia’s reopening plan as early as today.  We are hard at work on DC’s Reopening plan, and hosted an industry specific call yesterday where we were joined by more than 100 DC operators. We hope to submit a draft plan to Mayor Bowser on May 11th that will be based on recommendations from you, our local industry, regional leaders, and health and safety experts.  Today, I am pleased to start the day off with...
We have heard from many of you who are seeking suppliers for PPE items such as masks and gloves, as well as cleaning supplies like disinfectant and hand sanitizer.  In response, we collected information from local purveyors in our community to provide you with information and contacts to assist you in purchasing these items.  Acme Paper and Supply Co.: Face Masks: Stocking face masks, both 3 ply FDA approved facemasks and FDA approved KN95 masks. They encourage restaurants within close proximity to consider splitting a case, if possible, to lower cost. RAMW can assist in this...
Dear Operator,  I hope you are all staying steady as we round the next corners of this rollercoaster.   As you continue to try to put your arms around PPP, our friends at CPA Eats are working through planning scenarios that may be helpful for all of you as you try to make insightful decisions. Matt Hetrick will be hosting daily Zoom meetings next week on how to best protect your business, whether or not you’ve secured a PPP Loan, as well as thoughts on how to spend the money more efficiently.  These sessions will happen all of next week, beginning Monday, May 4....
As we all work to stop the spread of COVID-19, OpenTable has teamed up with participating grocery stores and markets to help limit the number of people who enter at a time and reduce crowds and wait times for shoppers. Just as people can make a restaurant reservation or join a waitlist, they will now be able to reserve shopping times or join a virtual line in the OpenTable app. It works in two ways: Reserved shopping times: Just like reserving a table at a restaurant, you can reserve a time to enter a store. Online waitlists: If you haven’t pre-reserved,...
Everyone is talking about the who, what, where, when, and how of reopening. This is a positive shift as it means we are headed back to some semblance of normalcy, albeit with restrictions we must all abide by in order to do business in this region.  As we approach the end of April, and seven weeks since you all had to drastically change your operations, we want to give you some insight on the regional approach, process, and next steps.  As you know, the region’s leaders in DC, VA, and MD are coordinating efforts to ensure they are all moving forward on the same page.  We...
OpenTable’s In it Together with Chief Operating Officer Andrea Johnston is a weekly webinar series where she discusses the state of the industry with leaders in hospitality. It’s a place to create community and seek advice during these uncertain times. Email us at inittogether@opentable.com if you have questions or discussion topics that you’d like to see in future webinars. Register here for future webinars in the series! - - - Previous On-Demand Webinars Available: April 29, 2020: Andrea spoke with Dan Simons, co-owner of Founding Farmers Restaurant Group, and...

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