N.H. restaurants need your trust

As the world faces the current pandemic, we must all focus inward toward our local communities and working together to survive whatever the future will hold. As CEO of Great NH Restaurants, I never dreamed I would face the situation we are now in. If you’re like me, you are filled with more questions than answers, but you then realize that we all must be strong and march forward each day knowing that this crisis will pass.

Restaurants are a driving force in New Hampshire, always generously supporting our communities in time of need with fundraising support. The COVID-19 concern is real, and it’s important that you understand that supporting your local restaurants through this time benefits us all. There are more than 69,500 food service jobs in New Hampshire … 10% of the Granite State workforce! We must work together to ensure that we can hit the ground running when this time of uncertainty is over.

With just 24 hours notice, we’ve had to respond to the mandated closing of our in-house dining. Our leadership team has worked around the clock to figure how we can support our employees as well as the people of New Hampshire that count on us every day. We were happy to learn that our hourly employees would not have to forfeit insurance benefits in spite of not being able to schedule them with hours. They technically are still employed and weren’t laid off. With our guest counts down some 80%, we simply couldn’t keep the hourly employees scheduled. We did issue out $120,000 in bonuses to them this week, to ease the pain a bit until unemployment checks start to arrive next week.

We are now focusing our efforts on making great takeout orders, quick and easy, and urge everyone to order as frequently as you can. This is the only way we can continue to schedule our salaried managers. I’m pleased to report our guests have been incredibly generous with tipping, and we are pooling those to give to our hourly employees over the next few weeks. Every single order will make a huge difference to every restaurant. I’d like to personally thank Gov. Chris Sununu for authorizing restaurants to be able to include beer and wine with takeout orders. This will make some difference in our ability to weather this storm.

It is also important to remember that our team has always adhered to the highest standards in sanitation practices and have always understood how important our “Serve Safe®” procedures are.

Please order takeout from your locally owned restaurants as much as you can. We hope you are not only enjoy your food as a bright spot in your day, but also as a time to know that your order has truly helped sustain the well-being of New Hampshire’s restaurant industry for the future. I think I speak for all the restaurants in New Hampshire that we can’t wait to invite you back into our restaurants and bars!