By: Max Sullivan, Seacoastonline.com
HAMPTON – It was a $61.07 lunch tab for a couple rum runners and a sandwich with fries. The amount on the tip line read $1,000.
“I cried,” said L Street Tavern server and bartender Justine Barnes, who got the tip Dec. 14 while working her day shift. It came from a regular who confided to Barnes during her lunch that her ex-husband had recently died by suicide. Barnes said she, too, had lost her boyfriend to suicide 12 years ago.
The tip came right when Barnes said she needed it. She said she was struggling to afford Christmas gifts, and two weeks ago she was in a car crash that forced her to pay for expensive repairs.
“It provided Christmas presents for my kids,” said Barnes. Mikey, 17, got the computer monitor he had been hoping for, while 19-year-old Haley got the hair straightener she wanted, along with clothes, shoes and things for their bedroom.
L Street owner Jake Magro said Barnes’ tip was the biggest he has ever seen a customer get. He said he has seen many customers give generous tips this season given the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the restaurant industry. He said the tavern has tried to return that generosity this season by donating to the Seacoast Firefighters Toy Bank.
By: Denise J. Wheeler, Seacoastonline.com
Asking area restaurant owners to look back at their year, from their vibrant pasts to this bleak present, is to have them recount a great and terrifying leap over the crevasse coronavirus bore. The economic devastation of COVID-19 on Seacoast restaurants, like those around the world, was immediate, epic and continues to unfold before our eyes. Their livelihood, at this moment, hangs on a thread.
The crisis economically affects not only restaurateurs and their staff, but also the ecosystem surrounding them, including farmers, food purveyors and commercial landlords.
The stimulus package just passed by Congress includes critical aid for small businesses, including restaurants, but, as Peter Egelston, co-owner of the Portsmouth Brewery, points out, it comes late and is by no means a panacea.
By: Evan Mallett
It is no surprise to most people that restaurants have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic relative to other industries. But what most people don’t know is that, because we restaurant folk are accustomed to handling adversity, we are not going to lay down and surrender to this one just because it is all the horrible things we have been hearing for the last 10 months. Yes, universally we are navigating unprecedented, unforgiving times; but we are still navigating, knowing that the world still needs to eat.
At Black Trumpet, we are acutely aware that we provide nourishment and a memorable dining experience for a small percentage of the population. And, while we have pursued every channel we could think of to keep the lights on and the doors open for our own survival, we have also made a significant effort to use the spare time on our hands, that might have otherwise been directed toward the daily operations of a busy restaurant, to nourish the souls of all people - not just those who can afford to dine at Black Trumpet.
By: Ray Duckler, Concord Monitor
When Corey Fletcher arrived at his Depot Street restaurant Monday to view water damage caused by a ruptured hot-water pipe, he knew immediately that a bad year, drawing to a close, had gotten worse.
“I unlocked the door and everywhere there were streams of water,” Fletcher, the owner of the Revival Kitchen and Bar, said. “Water was pouring in, running toward the low spots, through any spot it could find to head downward.”
That just happens to be where the home of Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano is too. Both establishments suffered extensive damage – tiles, drywall and insulation had plummeted from their ceilings to their floors under the weight of water – and are closed for in-house dining for the foreseeable future.
In the spirit of the holidays, New Hampshire beer distributors team up with the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association to provide groceries to NH hospitality workers in need
CONCORD, N.H. – The Beer Distributors Association of New Hampshire (BDNH), in partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Molson Coors, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), is donating $5,000 in local grocery gift cards to the New Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund (NHHERF).
“Restaurants are not only our partners, but also part of the fabric of our community, and their staff are our friends and neighbors,” said Chris Brown, President and CEO of New Hampshire Distributors (NHD). “Our hearts go out to the unemployed hospitality workers and their families who are struggling this holiday season. We wanted to help in some small way, so we rallied our member companies from across the state and joined forces with a few of our key partners to support workers in need before Christmas.”
The $50 and $100 gift cards will be distributed through the NHHERF. The fund, which was launched in March 2020 and is managed by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation (NHLRAEF), offers $250 grants to hospitality industry employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic has been devastating to hospitality industry employees. Thousands have lost their jobs almost overnight. For those that have been able to go back to work, many face limited hours and significantly less business,” said Mike Somers, President and CEO of the NHLRA. ‘With the assistance of programs and industry partners like BDNH, we have been able to support families in need. Grocery store gift cards will help put food on the table during a very hard time for many in our industry.”
Nationwide, the unemployment rate in the restaurant industry is a staggering 13.8%. Thanks to the generous donations of industry partners like BDNH, as well as community organizations and private individuals, the NNHERF has distributed more than $164,000 in direct aid to hospitality workers this year.
“While there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, we still have a long way to go before we’re out of it and those in our industry need to take care of each other any way we can,” said Suzanne Kasprzak, President and CEO of Bayside Distributing in Brentwood.
Hospitality workers can apply for assistance at NHHERF.org.
By: Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader Correspondent
Nashua aldermen on Tuesday rejected a proposal from the Nashua Board of Health that would have placed a 9:30 p.m. curfew on bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
“I think that we are punishing too many businesses and individuals that have already suffered enough,” said Alderman Richard Dowd. Closing select businesses a few hours early will not make a difference and police and public health officials do not have the time to enforce a curfew, he said.
Despite a recommendation from the Board of Health, the proposed curfew was still rejected with a vote of 4 aldermen in support and 11 aldermen opposed. The proposal was then tabled, meaning the issue could potentially be brought forward again at an upcoming meeting.
By: Jonathan Phelps, New Hampshire Union Leader
Since March, Neal Brown hasn’t much felt the luck of the Irish, but at least he’s still on his feet.
“Not exactly the best year ever, but we’re still here. We’re still open,” said Brown, co-owner of the Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant on Elm Street in Manchester. “We are in a better position than some places might find themselves.”
Some of those other places have shut down for good.
Since the night before St. Patrick’s Day, when Gov. Chris Sununu ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms to curb the spread of COVID-19, restaurant and bar owners have struggled to bring in enough revenue to cover payroll, rent and overhead costs. They’ve faced a year of constant change that included periods of takeout-only business, which gradually gave way to limited indoor seating. Some invested in tables outside and plastic shields inside to increase the number of patrons they could accommodate.
Shaskeen has kept all its employees, but some took on second jobs to make ends meet.
By: Kyle Stucker, Fosters Daily Democrat
DOVER — Like many restaurant employees across the country, 2 Home Cooks server Arianna Gutierrez says 2020 has brought a series of struggles as she’s done her best to provide for her 5-year-old daughter Ryleigh.
So, when a kind group of strangers left her a $953 tip with their breakfast bill Saturday as a Christmas surprise, the 22-year-old single mother says she was shaking because she was so overjoyed and overwhelmed at the “very beautiful” and “generous” gesture.
“I’m so thankful. Nobody has ever ... I didn’t ... there are people out there that care,” Gutierrez said while searching for words to convey the impact of the tip Monday. “There are people out there that understand and want to help, and it’s amazing they’re actually in Dover and around me."
“I will never forget it."
A group of 14 people left the tip around 9:30 a.m. Saturday on a $232 bill. The 40 Chestnut St. breakfast and lunch eatery shared an image of the tip — a large stack of $100, $50 and $20 bills — on its Facebook page later that afternoon.
By: Cherise Leclerc, WMUR News Anchor/Reporter
NASHUA, N.H. -- A 9:30 p.m. curfew in Nashua at certain indoor places like bars and restaurants was still under consideration Monday night. The city Board of Health unanimously approved the recommendation.
Health officials in the city said the focus is on public safety and local hospitals are being pushed to staffing limits. Those in the hospitality industry said they feel like they are being unfairly targeted.
The special meeting of the Board of Aldermen held on Monday was overwhelmed by pleas from those in the restaurant industry for the Aldermen not to pass the proposed curfew.
“We have 171 employees at Boston Billiard Club, if this goes through there’s over 100 people that are going to go out of work tomorrow,” said Kurt Mathias from the Boston Billiard Club and Casino.
Many of Mathias’ employees spoke out, worried about their financial futures.
Owners were worried that this could mean even more harm to their bottom line.
“If we go to a 9:30 p.m. curfew, layoffs will absolutely happen,” President of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association Mike Somers said.
By: David Brooks, Concord Monitor Staff
The pandemic has scrambled the supply chain for almost every industry you can think of, and that holds true even when the supply is something that others want to get rid of.
Consider Amenico, a company that for more than a decade has been sending trucks to regional restaurants to buy their used cooking grease and oil, which they process in their Pittsfield plant and sell to biodiesel plants. There was no shortage of supply in food-loving New England until COVID-19 shut down everything.