O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
It’s 4:28 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’ve had many sleepless nights over the past six months as my mind works overtime always strategizing how to ensure our business will survive. This is true of thousands of other small business owners all over this great country. Uncertainty is a business’s worst nightmare; a nightmare we are all currently living and will be living for the unforeseeable future.
Winter is coming Monday, December 21st at 5:02 a.m. EST. This is what keeps me up at night. Even during this beautifully warm summer where we’ve been able to serve guests with outdoor dining, safely-spaced indoor dining, takeout, and curbside, restaurants are barely surviving.
We have adapted, pivoted, and pivoted again and again, to ensure our guests and employees are safe while providing the same high-quality food and service we have for over 35 years. Ironically, 35 is the percentage of our current sales revenue driven by outdoor dining. Yes, 35 percent of our current revenue is outdoor dining. That goes away when winter comes, and winter is coming. What will every restaurant north of Latitude 38.9072° and Longitude 77.0369° do when we all lose 35 percent of our revenue because outdoor dining goes away? Keep in mind, even with that 35 percent in outdoor dining sales, most restaurants are still down in sales between 25-50 percent on any given day.
Those Latitude and Longitude coordinates are precisely the GPS location of Washington, D.C., where our Congress sits (technically they are in recess) and it’s time for them to step up and recognize how grim the situation is for thousands of small businesses.
We need elected officials to take the same risk every small business owner does daily. Take a risk and find a way to achieve a solution that works for not everyone but most everyone. That’s what compromise is and that is what needs to happen.
One of several elected officials, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), understands the incredible challenges that small businesses have and will continue to have over the next six months or more. She worked with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), to get the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) passed and is working harder than ever to get more funding (P4) that every small business in America will desperately need.
Over the last few months, I have publicly supported Senator Shaheen, and have been criticized for voicing my opinion. I am supporting Senator Shaheen because every time I have asked her about the business struggles I am facing, as well as my ideas regarding those issues, she has listened! I am supporting the person regardless of political party and I have that right in our great country. I will also be supporting Governor Chris Sununu for re-election as Governor of NH. He, too, has been a person who listens, leads and has the hardest job in our great state of NH.
Every local, state, federal legislation or regulation impacts our company, our customers, and our employee. I’m fighting every day to protect and provide the best for them all.
I’ll leave you with this. How do your relationships with family, friends and co-workers manage to stay united and aligned? There’s always conflict and differences. You will never agree on every issue. The word that makes it all work is compromise. Thank you, Senator Shaheen, for compromising and doing what’s best for small business and the New Hampshire community. Compromise is how everything gets done. Oh, and empathy … remember that word? That’s for another column.
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Tom Boucher is CEO-Owner of Great NH Restaurants Inc. (T-BONES, CJ’s, Copper Door) Past Chairman, FEEDNH.org, Director Emeritus, National Restaurant Association, Leadership Greater Manchester Class of 2019