There’s been a lot written over the past few months about restaurants that have reorganized their business models to accommodate shelter-in-place rules or that have been forced by the shitty economy to close altogether. But a lot less has been said about restaurant-adjacent businesses that exist to make sure restaurants are pleasant, well-run establishments: the florists, the beer draught cleaners, the linen providers, the grease recyclers, the valet parkers, the accountants, the PR and marketing people, and on and on and on. The restaurant business is an economy unto itself. As The Counter’s Anya Schultz notes, “Specialty accounting firms have one major advantage, which is that they have niche expertise. The disadvantage: If your niche industry crumbles, you’re out of luck.”
The Counter talked to a wide range of restaurant-adjacent business owners about how they’ve been faring since the shutdown. The answer is pretty much what you’d expect. Like restaurant owners, they’ve seen their revenues tumble to less than half of what they were a year ago, and they’ve been forced to lay off employees and go without salaries and are scrambling to stay afloat with PPP loans.
The most fascinating part of this article, though, is its exploration of these restaurant-adjacent businesses and how they function. Although I’ve seen vans from My Beer Guy, a Chicago-based beer draught cleaning businesses featured in the story, I admit it never really occurred to me what a beer draught cleaner does. Now I know. And now we all have many more reasons to hope the restaurant business recovers soon.