SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been a tough year for restaurant owners in Utah, it started with COVID-19 restrictions, then Utah was hit by an earthquake and this week hurricane force wind gusts uprooted trees and knocked down power lines.
“It’s definitely been a struggle. There have been times when it’s been really, really hard,” Sean Miller said while sitting at a table in his closed restaurant. Park Café won’t be able to reopen until the power is restored. Between the loss of customers and food, the restaurant owner is taking a financial hit.
He isn’t worried about the money, however, as he has insurance.
Park Café didn’t have any damage, unlike Liberty Park right across the street, which lost many trees.
“You kind of have to roll with the punches,” Miller said.
Just a few miles away in Downtown Salt Lake City the Green Pig Pub wasn’t as lucky. The windstorm, or "desert hurricane," as owner Bridget Gordon calls it, damaged the rooftop bar.
The owner is estimating a loss of around $25,000 between property damage, food loss and having to be closed. The restaurant was able to re-open Wednesday evening after power was restored.
“It’s been rough. Not just dealing with the damage we’ve accumulated with this, as well as homes and businesses,” Gordon said. She had downed trees and a broken fence at her home, as well during Tuesday’s storm.
It’s been a heartbreaking year and Gordon said they’ve taken a major financial hit. Despite the challenges, she has no plans to give up.
“We are hanging in there. We are getting things done, we are doing the best we can,” she said.
Not all Utah restaurant owners have been able to stay open, Melva Sine, Pres. & CEO Utah Restaurant Association, said. Even some owners who were about to survive the Great Recession (2007-2009) haven’t been able to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and other disasters that have come along with it.
“These impacts are greater and deeper, so the wounds are very difficult to overcome,” Sine said.
Tuesday’s windstorm is just another challenge the restaurant community is now facing.
“They will have to restock which is devastating impact, plus there are supply shortages that we are dealing with,” she said.
Despite the hardships, both Miller and Gordon are staying positive and thank the Salt Lake community for their continued support.
“I still feel like there is enough optimism in this community,” Miller said.
People can support restaurants by buying gift cards, ordering take-out directly through the restaurant not delivery apps, and dining-in, Sine suggested.