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One in Four Restaurants in the U.S. Won't Reopen, Says New Report

Data shows coronavirus has taken a serious toll on the dining industry.

A new survey released by online reservations platform OpenTable reveals a very ominous future for the restaurant industry it serves. According to data recently published, 25 percent of the restaurants that have shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic will never reopen again.

Think about that: Pick your four favorite restaurants, and know that one of them will never be open again.

The shelter at home guidelines designed to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus has in many ways been a success, judged purely by the "flattening of the curve" and declining numbers of COVID-19 cases. But, in other ways, lockdowns have been an outright disaster economically, and no industry may have been hurt as bad as the restaurant business.

Total reservations and walk-ins were down 95% on May 14 from that date the year before, according to the OpenTable survey of the 60,000 restaurants the reservation-making service works with.  They were down 100% throughout the month of April compared to the same time last year.

According to Steve Hafner, the CEO of OpenTable's open company, "Restaurants are complicated beasts. You have to order food and supplies. You have to make sure you've prepped the kitchen and service areas to be easily disinfected." Plus, most restaurants work on razor-thin margins that rely on crowded dining rooms—dining rooms that will be less crowded due to social distancing mandates.

Independent and corporate-owned chains have tried nearly everything to keep revenue coming in—from selling groceries to adapting delivery service and curbside pickup. In the first quarter of the year, only four national restaurant chains posted a profit, while every other chain posted a loss.

The federal government has passed an over two trillion relief bill designed to help those affected by the coronavirus shutdown, and some massive restaurant chains took advantage (then were shamed into returning guaranteed loans). There is talk of more Congressionally-approved relief funding, but for some restaurants, it may be too little, too late. And, if a restaurant does reopen, here are the new things you can expect to see in it in order to keep you and the staff safe.