Waffle House began to offer limited dine-in service as some states in U.S. ease coronavirus-related restrictions, urged the government to consider the effect of economic shutdown.
Njeri Boss, Waffle House Director of Public Relations, urged the U.S. government in her recent talked with Business Insider to assess and equally balance the danger of business shutdowns to the economy with the risk of coronavirus pandemic.
The restaurant’s sales fell in what Boss described as “like flipping the light switch” during city lockdowns but is now looking to reopen its shops slowly and welcome more customers.
Economic shutdown is as dangerous as the pandemic
With over 30 million workers applying for unemployment benefits, Njeri Boss emphasized the importance of “balanced and fair” decisions that the government needs to make amid pandemic.
She also explained that “not all can work from home” as what other employers do today and added that some jobs require workers to be at the site to do the job.
“This country, without workers, is going to be insignificant trouble,” she continued.
According to Boss, the company laid off almost 28,000 hourly workers, with the number of workers going down from 40,000 to 12,000 today.
Boss also mentioned that debates about whether the health or the economy should go first must stop.
Rather, urge the government and corporations to find innovative solutions to tackle both the public health and the financial crises as it becomes apparent that coronavirus will not disappear until someone finds a cure and a vaccine.
On a positive note, the Director of PR said that Waffle House is expecting to recover, but slowly. Some of the food company’s restaurants that reopened its dining service saw minimal customers.
However, those that are currently shuttered due to low sales will remain closed.
“It’s a little too early, and too soon to know when we may be able to open those closed stores […] It’s going to take time. The customer controls the timing.”
To gradually reopen with ‘new normal’ measures
Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer talked about the restaurant’s gradual reopening on its interview with CNBC’s The Exchange last Tuesday.
According to the CEO, most of its restaurants will operate with restricted dine-in service for the meantime. 333 restaurants in Georgia and 70 in Tennessee started offering limited dining rooms last Monday, as said states gradually open for business.
The CEO also mentioned that Waffle House is excited to serve its customers and give them the chance to eat without returning to their cars or trucks.
“We have seen a lot of picnics in our parking lots lately,” he said.
Under Waffle House’s new normal, customers can “sit at a distance and eat.” The food company implemented several safety protocols as well like wearing face masks, enhanced sanitation, and removing of menus and condiments.
Ehmer, on the other hand, does not expect to have all its restaurants opened soon and with its normal 24-hour operation as there is no coronavirus vaccine or cure yet.