Guest Editorial: Chandler Gets Creative to Help Restaurants

By Recker McDowell —

Restaurants are fighting for survival amidst COVID-19. They need all the help they can get to avoid closing permanently and adding to the more than 39 million jobs already lost to the pandemic.

The city of Chandler is doing its part by transforming a downtown park into a beer garden and picnic area where diners picking up food to go at nearby restaurants can enjoy food, wine or beer.

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said the ‘Dine in the Park’ provides more capacity and options for diners as local restaurants reopen but abide by social distancing.

This is just one example of what other cities across Arizona and other states should be doing to help restaurants survive.

Social distancing and some of the reopening rules imposed by governments make it tough for restaurants and bars to generate enough customers and business to survive, especially after being closed during COVID-19 shutdowns.

More space and seating options can help with capacity challenges. It can also offer more options and comfort to diners who might feel more confident in going out to eat if they can enjoy some fresh air and social distance. We need all the confidence boosts we can muster these days.

Other cities across the country including Kansas City, Tampa, Cincinnati and Norfolk, Virginia are fast tracking permits and are allowing restaurants to use parking and other exterior areas to help expand social distancing capacity.

Cities and towns who have not embarked on this path should be doing this immediately. Communities who are slow, resistant to change or have a ‘deer in the headlights’ reaction to COVID-19’s impact are going to see even more permanent closures of restaurants and other businesses.

Jobs losses from COVID are approaching 40 million workers nationwide. Restaurants, bars, hotels and retail and their employees have been hit especially hard.

There will more restaurants, bars and small business who will not survive the economic impacts of the pandemic.

We need to see efforts like what is being tried in Chandler replicated quickly in other cities to help save restaurants and jobs.