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Friends of Eater Miami Share Where The Restaurant Industry Should Go Next As It Rebuilds

Smaller restaurants, livable wages, and community focused

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As we (finally!) put a cap on 2020, Eater surveyed a group of friends, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them ten questions: from top standbys to top newcomers, from best meals to restaurants they’ve broken up with. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the 2020. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Responses do not necessarily reflect the views of Eater and Eater Miami.

Laine Doss (Miami New Times): I think there’s been a real eye opening experience that noone really needs a million restaurants that cost over $100 for brunch. And you do NOT need a DJ to have good food. Also day drinking is a thing.

Amber Love Bond (Eater Miami contributor): I think the restaurant industry is full of strong individuals who are going to find a way to bounce back, but they are definitely going to need not only the help of us as diners, but of our government officials.

Giovanny Gutierrez (Chat Chow TV/Eater Miami photographer): Would love to see landlords find solace in their hearts giving chefs fair value on rent to start building our restaurant community again.

Matthew Meltzer (Thrillist Miami): Restaurants need to figure out how to offer delivery and take out without using the delivery apps. It really boggles my mind the UberEats and Postmates of the world have the gall to charge restaurants what they do, and in a time where small businesses need every break they can get it’s almost offensive. But obviously, they’re not gonna change so it’s on the restaurants to figure out a way around this. Crust has done a great job with that, and if you look at that model it’s probably the best way to operate in the delivery-crazed world.

David Rosendorf (Food For Thought): This pandemic has been incredibly challenging for the restaurant industry, but in many ways it’s really just exposed the fault lines rather than created them. Most restaurants already operated on very thin margins with little room for error; and most restaurant employees already lived paycheck to paycheck with no safety net. I wish I had some bright ideas for how to fix that. But I do think part of it may involve a shift to an “equity” model where long-term employees can earn a share of ownership and literally have a stake in the financial successes and challenges of the restaurant’s business.

Stacy Moya (Eater Miami Contributor): I think that rent and lease payments need to be highly considered. Perhaps contemplate moving to a different neighborhood where the rent or lease is a fraction of the price of the trendier areas.

Virginia Gil (Time Out Miami): I think it needs to stay nimble and skew small. I think big ventures and chefs biting off more than they could chew was not a sustainable business model.

Alona Martinez (Eater Miami Contributor): Moving forward, I think the restaurant industry will keep building on the what has served it well: supporting local goods/community, working together, and incorporating some of the adjustments made during this tumultuous year, namely a seamless takeout/curbside system that will provide added revenue.

Sara Liss (Author of Miami Cooks): I think focusing on the local community is key - these are the people who will support and patronize your business when tourism wanes. So - focusing on highly personalized service (keeping data on frequent diners, hiring and retaining talented and trained service professionals), better social media engagement and good relationships with everyone in the industry will go a long way.

Jennifer Agress (Freelance restaurant writer): I think the restaurant experience will be incredibly important. Takeout gave us the ability to keep eating our favorite restaurant dishes during quarantine, but we didn’t get the social interaction and plate presentations that come with actually being there. How people feel in a restaurant is going to be more important now than ever before.

Kelly Blanco (NBC 6): To the moon.. we should all move there.

Olee Fowler (Eater Miami): I think gone are the days of these massive restaurants that seat 200+ people and charge $20 for a cocktail. I feel restaurants should go back to basics: good food, comforting atmosphere, supporting locals as much as they can (and not just saying they are and then buying their food off a Sysco truck), and giving their employees a livable wage so they aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. While this has been an absolutely devastating time for the industry, I think it’s also a great opportunity to rebuild it in a way that is much more sustainable and profitable for everyone involved.