By Steve Hooper
Special to The Times
Your favorite neighborhood restaurant has been through a lot during the pandemic — and most are nowhere near out of the woods. Remember those on and off and on-again indoor dining bans? They succeeded in keeping customers away from restaurant dining rooms. Unsurprisingly, they also caused restaurants’ revenues to plummet.
For those fortunate enough to make it through the pandemic, the average restaurant now carries $160,000 in debt — the equivalent of more than three years’ profit, according to the Washington Hospitality Association. With restaurants’ net revenue plummeting yet again as we move into the current high inflation, post-pandemic phase, the city of Seattle should make the 15% third-party delivery fee cap temporarily imposed during the pandemic permanent.
Third-party delivery services were an important tool for many local restaurants who made it through the impossibly difficult pandemic, providing a viable connection to customers that might otherwise have been unavailable. Pre-pandemic delivery companies were already charging restaurants 30% or more in some cases, which was already untenable.
Steve Hooper is president of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Washington Hospitality Association Government Affairs Committee co-chair and board president of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance.