Wisconsin’s restaurant industry is still feeling the impact of COVID

The Wisconsin Policy Forum released a report in July that shows the state’s restaurant and foodservice industry job recovery is still down 9%. In Milwaukee County, it’s down 11.8%.

After educational services, food services and drinking places have the most employment of any other sector; 6-8% of people work in this industry, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, job losses were 47%.

“Before the pandemic, we were paying $19.99 for a case of gloves. When the pandemic hit, they went up to $99.99 for a case of gloves, and then we could barely get them because of the shortages,” said Jill Ruffing, general manager of 600 East Café. “Now, two years later, we are still paying.”

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The Wisconsin Restaurant Association said 40% of restaurants in Wisconsin that did not receive Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant money will not remain in business without the funding. Statewide, 5,871 restaurants applied, but only 2,095 received money.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association encourages consumers to continue to support local restaurants and be patient with potentially longer wait times.